When was the last time you shouted for joy in church--or even sang at the top of your lungs? Well, my answer would be "Never." Though I have been in services where an enthusiastic song leader and lively piano player have gotten the congregation to sing out with joy and verve.
The reason I am thinking about this is because this morning I read Psalm 146 in the Contemporary English Version. I like to read the Bible in various translations, because the varying word choices, while not changing the overall meaning, can illuminate a passage in a way that catches my attention. In the CEV, Psalm 146 begins, "Shout praises to the LORD! With all that I am, I will shout his praises."
Well, that got me to thinking along several different lines. First, I pulled out a half dozen other versions. None of them used the word "shout," but they said "Praise the LORD!" Margin notes and footnotes showed that the Hebrew words used are those that we put into English as "Hallelujah" or "Alleluia." I gather that this expression is one of enthusiastic praise, hence the exclamation points. The CEV translators evidently see it as so very great an enthusiastic expression of praise that its true meaning is best expressed as shouting praise to the LORD.
So, am I going to joyfully shout in church next Sunday? The truth is, I could never be that uninhibited! I would shrivel with embarrassment as people turned to see who was carrying on in such a manner. It would simply be unacceptable in our culture. There are cultures in our world where such joyful and loud expressions of praise are perfectly acceptable, even expected. In them, I believe, we can glimpse what worship may have been like in David's time. He was a man who wept loudly when he mourned, who danced joyfully before the Ark of the Covenant when it was being moved to Jerusalem, and who organized musicians and singers for the worship at the temple. Although the author of Psalm 146 is unknown, the sentiment would certainly be one embraced by David!
So, I won't shout in church, but I'll try to shout within my own heart and mind!