The Festal Shout!

A shout of joy 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)


SLW said...

Truly fresh, Chris! Let me express my appreciation with a lesson learned: BLESS THE LORD!

You know, I think that did beat down my inner Pharisee (at least a bit). ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was also at the recent Bible Week and did feel a consistent theme was the “shout of the people”, I have always been conscious that as part of a praise and worship team any response should be natural and not forced, it can be easy to generate an emotion, there is an a gift in flowing with the spirit and allowing the spirit to prompt response rather than allowing technical skills to generate emotional responses to the environment. And at no time did feel a shout was forced but flowed from the spirit in that meeting and the “phrase festival shout” is ideal.

During one of these occasions I wanted to scream my throat dry for the Lord, I remembered a sporting match this year when the team I was sporting was losing and need one more score to win, the action was right in front of my seat and I was screaming encouragement to the players to extent that I lost my voice (not that this stopped me attempting to scream my support), however at the Bible Week I never lost my voice despite attempting to shout to the Lord as loud as I could! This left me wondering what more I could do! At the point I have concluded that it wasn’t “British” reserve that was the issue rather it was passion! At the sporting match did I really believe that shouting encouragement at the people in front would make a difference? Yes. And I need to translate to shout to the Lord

Charlotte said...

Oh yes, you've obviously experienced the festal shout! We had a festal shout in church last week, and it shook the walls. It was the most divine sound I've heard in church. We need more and more festal shouts!

Thank you so much for this excellent article.

whamprod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whamprod said...

Hello Chris,

This is also Chris, from Grapevine, Texas. I was doing my morning devotional just now from a book by the title of "Jesus Calling," and Psalm 89:15 was part of it. I recently switched to using the ESV rather than the NIV or NASB as my primary study Bible. Like you, I was intrigued by the expression "festal shout," and being kind of a geek, the first thing I did was google it. Your blog post came up at the very top of page 1.

What an excellent thing to have stumbled across! I am humbled when God leads me to a revelation because I showed even the slightest interest in exploring one of His rabbit holes. You made a reference to Nu 23:21, so I went and looked it up. (It's been at least a couple of years since I spent any time at all in Numbers.) In the accompanying commentary, it says: "The king in view here is God himself, whose festivals are marked by shouts and trumpet blasts."

I attend a very much alive church in Grapevine, Texas called 1:21 Community Church. The "1:21" is from Philippians 1:21—"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." I will say this about your comments regarding the reluctance of people to raise a festal shout in church....we don't seem to have that problem in a lot of churches down here in Texas. I don't know if it is simply the Southern Baptist way; or if it is the influence of rural African-American churches on the southern culture; or if it is simply that we have finally arrived at an evangelical expression of joy in our King and don't feel the need to repress it.

I have been in other churches, including the one I attended when I found faith at age 41, where that expression of unrestrained joy was often lacking; so I do know what you mean. I saw in your bio that you preach His Word. At my church, I am part of the worship team. It's kind of funny now, really, because I'm an old, fat, semi-crippled guy with snow white hair and bifocals, and I am easily old enough to be the father of every single other member of the worship team, including our worship pastor; but I have been playing guitar for 48 years, and so there is a place for me at the table. I am eternally grateful for this. But when I am playing for Him, I am young again, and my back does not hurt and my eyes are sharper, because indeed "[t]he king in view here is God himself, whose festivals are marked by shouts and trumpet blasts."

Thank you for being God's servant and willingly leaving that little nugget for me down at the bottom of this particular rabbit hole.

God's blessings on you, your family, and your ministry.

Chris HH said...

Hello Chris,

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It's a real encouragement to know that what I have written has been a blessing.

There are so many nuggets waiting for us in God's word; may we both keep finding them.

Every blessing

Nancy said...

Like Chris, I came upon the "festal shout" reference in my reading this morning and looked it up on the web finding your blog in the process. Your comments were right on the mark. I have experienced that bubbling up of the Spirit which bursts forth in a joyful shout but only a few times. My inner Pharisee is SO stodgy! Once was in a wonderful little church in Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. What a joyful congregation they were. I am forever grateful to them for sharing that Sunday with us.

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

Hi, Nancy.

I've not blogged in a good while, but it's great to know that my posts are still "out there" and being read.

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave some feedback. Very encouraging and much appreciated! :)

Judyv said...

Ten years later! Thank you for your comments! They have been very eye-opening to me as I am just learning about the “festal shout.”