“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.” (Psalm 98:4).
This type of shouting sometimes refers to celebratory shouts at a king’s coronation (e.g., “Long live King Solomon” in I Kings 1:39-40 or “Long live the king” in II Kings 11:12-14 or “Hosanna” in Matthew 21:4-9); it could also be that type of shouting that is like a war cry. In this context, it would be celebrating the coming of a King.
To “break forth in song” refers to an exuberant outburst that someone cannot repress. It is an eruption of praise. It is the same word Isaiah uses in Isaiah 55:12 – “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall BREAK FORTH into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” It is as if the praise is constant and unstoppable. It is too great to be contained.
You cannot be too hearty when it comes to singing. You can’t sing too loud or be too passionate when you open your lips to sing about God.
The noise in the Temple was legendary. It was borderline rambunctious. Let me give you an example of this from Ezra. Following the captivity in Babylon, the Temple was restored, and the walls were rebuilt. In Ezra 3, we see the formal, communal worship being restored and this is no light moment. We read,
“10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off” (Ezra 3:10-13).
This was worship with gusto. Reformed theologian and late pastor James Boice gives us this exhortation:
“Should the worship of God’s people be any less exuberant today? Should we be quiet when we have come to know him who is the great King above all kings and the great Lord above all lords? Shame on us for all lackluster worship and all halfhearted praise.”
Don’t waste your singing. If you need to close your eyes, close your eyes. If you need to sit up close during the service, sit on the front row. If you need to learn the songs, spend some time learning them. Do whatever is necessary but don’t waste your singing.