Friday, November 21, 2014

Season of Praise: Zamar

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

11/21/14 - Zamar - Strong's 2167

I recollect from our pastor's previous sermon series on these words that zamar was interpreted 'to play skillfully upon a musical instrument'

The Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary in the back of Zodhiates  defines it as a prim. root; prop. to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music; -- give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.  There is a mention of an association with another word that involves the connotation of 'striking with the fingers', although I am not really able to figure out quite what that association is.

The linked reference mentions 'to pluck or to prune, especially a vine'.  But, out of the 47 times the word is used in the Old Testament, the KJV translates it as  Praise  26 times, Sing 16 times, Sing Psalms twice and Sing Forth once.  All but 4 of those references are in the Psalms.

No mention of musical instruments in that list, but, looking at the Hebrew meanings of the word, it's clear that musical instruments are implied.

Over and over in the Psalms, the idea that one should just grab anything that makes a sound and use it to proclaim God's praise is presented.  Cymbals, flutes, trumpets...anything.  David's harp playing could calm Saul's torment (1 Samuel 16); Elisha asked for a harp player to help dispel an atmosphere of unbelief so he could discern the voice of God (2 Kings 3:15).

I marvel at folks who can sit down and pick up an instrument and worship.  I played the clarinet in school band for years...even a bit in college...but it is not something that came particularly easy.  I had to work at it to just be a fair musician.  But some of my best playing was done years later, in our little 'we're all family here' church, along side  the church pianist.  Who, fortunately for me, always transposed anything with more than two sharps into the corresponding flats key...down half a step, which meant that the B flat clarinet didn't have to play in foreign keys that had a bodacious number of sharps.  I even did a little arranging of songs to play.

Don't get me wrong.  I was still just fair at it.  But I loved doing it.  Praising Him with an instrument blessed me.  Maybe at the cost of the folks who listened...but I was encouraged to do it, so I am taking that as an indication that it wasn't terribly offensive to the human audience.

So...what can you do?  Play a tambourine, like Miriam?  Play the piano...which is really just a harp turned sideways?  Play an accordion to the glory of God?  A harmonica?  The guitar, which is the descendant of the biblical lyre? Or just listen and rejoice in the gifts that God gave others to enter into worship with their skillful playing upon instruments?  Put in that cd...or pull up that song on the mp3  player...and let the worship minister to you in trouble, like it did for Saul, or help you focus and discern the voice of God, as it did for Elisha.

A smattering of verses that use Zamar - from the Amplified:

Ps. 21:13 - Be exalted, Lord, in Your strength; we will sing and praise [Zamar] Your power.

Ps. 57:7 - My heart is fixed, O God; my heart is steadfast and confident!  I will sing and make melody [Zamar].

Ps. 71:22 - I will also praise [Zamar] You with the harp, even Your truth and faithfulness, O my God; unto you will I sing praises.

Ps. 95:8 -  Sing  praises [Zamar] to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody.

Ps 144:9 - I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp, an instrument of ten strings, will I offer praises [Zamar] to You. 

Ps. 147:7  -  Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises [Zamar] with the harp or the lyre to our God!

Ps. 149:3 - Let them praise His name in chorus and choir and with the (single or group) dance, let them sing praises [Zamar] to Him with they tambourine and lyre!

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