Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face. (Ps 89:15)
I'm back from a great week away at the Without Borders Bible Week. Although this verse wasn't mentioned, it highlights for me one of the main themes of the week.
One of the first prophetic words that came was that we are a people who enjoy the privilege of the light of the Lord's face upon us. Even Moses when he beheld the Lord's glory was not permitted to see his face.
Several times in the evening meetings there was a great shout of praise that went up to the Lord. Not forced, not manufactured, though on occasion encouraged, they were an entirely fitting and appropriate response to the presence of God in the midst of his people. A festal shout from a people celebrating the light of the Lord's face upon them.
The word translated here as "festal shout" is the Hebrew word "teruwah" - it represents a powerful tumultuous noise. It was used for a loud shout or cheer of joy, the blast of the trumpets, a war cry, and the sound of a tempest.
It was in response to the people of God's mighty shout [teruwah] that God brought down the walls of Jericho. It was with a joyful shout [teruwah] that the people of God responded when the ark of the Lord was brought into their midst (1Sa 4:5) and when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid (Ezr 3:12).
I like the way the ESV translates this word as "festal shout" in Ps 89. The NASB uses "joyful sound" and the NIV just uses "acclaim" which doesn't really capture the means (or volume) of this acclimation of joy! You can't really imagine the walls of Jericho falling to a polite hand-clap and a muttering of "well done" or "good show!"
Perhaps this highlights a problem that exists in many of the expressions of the church today, where to shout in a church meeting seems strange, foreign, out of place, inappropriate or maybe even sacrilegious. Many believers today have lost the blessing of the festal shout.
Is it because we (in this country) are too British? I don't think so. Up and down the length of this nation you will hear roars of festal shouts rising from stadia every time a leather ball hits the back of a net. I've never yet had to hear a commentator address a home crowd and say. "Now we are going to watch the replay, and this time, when the ball goes in I want you to stand up and make some noise." It's a natural expression. It's almost unnatural not to raise a festal shout in such situations. Yet in the church, it seems so often such instruction is required. Those who have so much more to celebrate. Do we not realise the significance of what God has done, or do we not know how to respond?
I believe the problem is not too much Britishness (or insert other nationality here) but too much religion! Shouting is an affront to the high-minded religious prude that can lurk beneath the surface of our spirituality. While our inner child wants to shout with joy to the king, our inner Pharisee will try its best to reign it in.
But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant (Mt 21:15)
Perhaps this is part of the blessing of the festal shout. It binds the spirit of religion and releases the true spirit of worship. It is an appropriate response from earth to heaven that provokes a response of blessing from heaven to earth.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them,
and the shout[teruwah] of a king is among them. (Nu 23:21)