Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
The Hebrew expression translated here as “play skillfully” literally means “to do well in playing music.” The verb “to be skillful” comes from the Hebrew root that means “good,” and is elsewhere translated as “to do well.” But when it’s combined with the verb for playing instruments, the “to do well” suggests musical expertise.
Psalm 33:3 reminds us that we’re to use well the gifts God has given us. If we have musical talent, then we should learn to “play skillfully” for the Lord. In reality, this takes years of diligent practice. Though it might be tempting for people with lots of natural musical ability to coast on their laurels, Psalm 33 encourages them to work hard on developing their skills. Yet their commitment to excellence must not keep them from singing “with joy” (v. 3).
By analogy, all of us should “play skillfully” in the areas in which we have been given talents from God. If you have a precise mind and a facility with numbers, excel as an accountant . . . to the glory of God. If you are a creative communicator with a passion for young people, be the best teacher you can be . . . to the glory of God. If you are a visionary who can move people to purposeful action . . . be a fine leader, to the glory of God.
But as you seek to serve the Lord with excellence, don’t forget about joy. As you offer yourself and your talents to God, delight in being able to use what he has given you for his pleasure and glory.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In what areas of life do you “play skillfully”? How might you offer all that you do to the Lord? When do you experience the combination of excellence and joy?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, first of all, I want to thank you for the gift of music, for those who have worked hard to play skillfully for you, and for the ability to hear and delight in music.
I also want to thank you, Lord, for the talents you have given me. Help me to develop them intentionally, to use them faithfully for your glory. Though I won’t be playing skillfully for you on a harp, may I “play skillfully” the instruments you have given me.
May this be true, dear Lord, for all of your people. Help us to be faithful stewards of the talents and gifts you have given. May we “play skillfully” at work, in our communities, as we serve at church, in our families, and in every other facet of life. Amen.
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This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.