"Why are we here?" We had just finished a weekly choir rehearsal that had gone very well that night. Before dismissing the choir, however, it was the practice of the director to take a few minutes at the end of rehearsals to discuss things like worship, praise, hymns, and other types of music and their function in the church and its ministry. We spend hours every week involved in all of these things, praise, worship, etc. So he naturally wanted to make sure we understood what they're all about, and our role in relation to them. Tonight, he turned our attention to the choir itself and its role. Hence, the question, "Why are we here?"
Silly question, some of us thought. We're the choir. We're here to lead the congregation in the worship and praise of God --- right? Not exactly. King David gave us a hint when he laid plans for the temple. Although God would not allow David to build the temple, the king could design it, organize its services, and finance the building of it. First, he took a census of the Levites, the God-appointed ministers of God's worship. Then he assigned them specific tasks with regard to the temple. Some were keepers of the gates. Some were assigned to the actual service of the temple itself. Others the king organized into a choir, who were "singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy" to the Lord (1 Chronicles 15.16). Altogether he had appointed to that choir 4,000 Levites who were just "praising the Lord with the instruments which David made for giving praise." (1 Chronicles 23.5) It didn't matter if anyone else were present in the temple to share in the praise. This choir just praised the Lord continually. They spoke His wonders. They praised His name. They told of His glory. They sang of His works. They honored His name. They ascribed greatness to Him. They sang to the Lord (cp. 1 Chronicles 16.7-36). And that's why we're here --- not just our choir, but everyone who is called by His name. We're here to praise the Lord!
Take a look with me at Psalm 113. Its opening words, Praise the Lord!, continue to echo through my heart. We've already seen that it means to be boastful of the Lord, but it means so much more. It comes from a family of words that expand and elevate its meaning. For example, its Arabic relative means to "appear on the horizon," kinda like the glow that precedes a sunrise. I remember my first camping trip to Worth Ranch with Scout Troop 83. We camped on a cliff on the side of a hill overlooking the Brazos River Valley spread out below us. Early the first morning, I crawled out of my tent to the aroma of fresh coffee and the slender glow of light outlining the mountaintops to the east. And the glow grew and grew until it blossomed into a full sunrise. Hallel, praise, is like that glow and the sunshine, because one of its relatives also means to make shine. When you focus your attention, your words, your heart, your songs on the greatness and the condescending goodness of God, you make Him shine! That is praise!
And that is why we're here. To make Him shine. The command in Psalm 113.1 is to praise the Lord! He is the focus of our praise. He is the subject of our praise. He is the object of our praise. He is everything, our all in all. And the command is Hallelu-Jah! Praise ye the Lord!