THINK ABOUT IT. Jesus was a Jew—and when He and His first-century Hebrew peers engaged in vocal worship (cf. Mat. 26:26-30), they used a songbook of sorts. Of course, there were obviously no spiralbound or hardbound songbooks to read from, and there were no electronic Paperless Hymnals to display on a screen like we use in the 21st century.
So what specific hymnal did the Jews employ? Was it some form of OT Christian Hymns III, or Praise for the LORD, or Great Songs of the OT Church, or OT Church Gospel Songs and Hymns? All kidding aside, the songbook of the Jews was—the Psalms (cf. 1 Chron. 16:8-36), written and collected from Moses to Ezra over a period of a thousand years, which were then committed to memory. The English title “Psalms” comes from the Greek word meaning “a sacred song or hymn—a Psalter,” while the Hebrew title, Tehillim, means “praises,” and every Psalm except the 88th contains some form of that fervent action. So when the Jews offered up the sacrifice of praise (cf. Psa. 27:6; Heb. 13:15), they didn’t simply quote the Psalms, they joyfully sang and shouted them, and THAT was the songbook our Lord used when He sang as well.
But this then begs yet another question. Since the Psalms served as the songbook of the Jews, who wrote and authored all of these psalters? Peter says, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21b), and yet the Holy Spirit received His words from Jesus (cf. John 14:14-17; 16:13-15)!
Here’s ONE lesson I’m learning: Jesus sang from the songbook which He wrote Himself—and one of His favorite subjects was—are you ready for this(?), THANKSGIVING to His Father! Watch the repetitive refrain in the following Psalms:
“Therefore I will GIVE THANKS to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name” (Psa. 18:49).
“Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, and GIVE THANKS at the remembrance of His holy name” (Psa. 30:4).
“To the end that my glory my sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will GIVE THANKS to You forever” (Psa. 30:12).
“I will GIVE YOU THANKS in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people” (Psa. 35:18).
“Offer to God THANKSGIVING, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Psa. 50:14).
“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with THANKSGIVING” (Psa. 69:30).
“We GIVE THANKS to You, O God, we GIVE THANKS! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near” (Psa. 75:1).
“So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will GIVE YOU THANKS forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations” (Psa. 79:13).
“It is a good thing to GIVE THANKS unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High” (Psa. 92:1).
“Let us come before His presence with THANKSGIVING; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (Psa. 95:2).
“Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, and GIVE THANKS at the remembrance of His holy name” (Psa. 97:12).
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be THANKFUL to Him, and bless His name” (Psa. 100:4).
“Oh, GIVE THANKS to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psa. 106:1).
“Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to GIVE THANKS to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise” (Psa. 106:47).
“Oh, that men would GIVE THANKS TO THE lord FOR His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Psa. 107:8, 15, 31)!
“Oh, GIVE THANKS to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psa. 118:1, 29).
“At midnight I will rise to GIVE THANKS to You, because of Your righteous judgments” (Psa. 119:62).
- Jesus sang.
- Jesus sang from the psalmbook which He had written.
- Jesus offered the praise of thanksgiving to His Father.
In a world where we are tempted to complain and fuss about the current state of affairs, I’m learning from Jesus that I need be more thankful, and one of the best ways to do that is by singing with a heart of zealous gratitude as He did (Heb. 2:12): “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, GIVING THANKS always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:19-20).