On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
[P]raise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe.
Today is the twelfth and last day of Christmas. For many of us, the notion of Christmas as a twelve-day season is quite foreign…except for the song. Almost all of us are familiar with "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and its collection of unusual gifts, including maids-a-milking, swans-a-swimming, gold rings, French Hens, Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a pear tree. According to the song, on the twelfth and final day of Christmas, the singers "true love" gave "twelve drummers drumming."
You won't find any drummers in Scripture, at least not in most English translations. But you will find people dancing while playing timbrels (for example, Exodus 15:20). In fact, Psalm 150:4 calls God's people to praise him "with timbrel and dancing," or, as some translations prefer, "with tambourine and dance" (ESV). The Hebrew term behind "timbrel, tambourine" is tof, which was a small percussion instrument held and struck by one's hand. It was, in effect, a small drum.
Psalm 150 exhorts us to praise the Lord with all sorts of musical instruments: trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel (tof), strings, pipe, and loud cymbals. The sense of the text is that we are to praise God with everything we have at our disposal. Thus, this is a fitting conclusion for our celebration of Christmas, which began with a great company of angels praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:13-14).
Praise is something we do, not only with our lips and our instruments, but also with our whole lives. You may recall that a few months ago we examined Ephesians 1:12, which says that we exist "for the praise of God's glory" (see 9/28/2012 and following). We are alive for the purpose of praising God. But this does not mean we ought to put down our work and hurry to a worship service. On the contrary, we can and should praise God in all we do, including our work. So, if you happen to be a drummer, then by all means drum for God's glory. And if you happen to be a lawyer, then practice law for God's glory. And if you're a teacher, then teach for God's glory. And if you're a contractor, or a mother, or a banker, or a window washer, or…do it all for God's glory.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways do you live for God's praise? How might you praise God in your work? Your community? Your family? Your friendships? Your political activity? Your volunteer work?
PRAYER: Lord, as we come to the end of the Christmas season, we end where we started…with praise. Today, we join the twelve drummers by praising you with all that you have given us. We offer our lives to you, so that we might exist for the praise of your glory. Amen.