Day 155

Sounds of Heaven

Wisdom Psalm 69:29-36
New Testament Acts 1:23-2:21
Old Testament 2 Samuel 5:6-6:23


Have you ever noticed that the Bible is a very noisy book? Wisdom cries out (Proverbs 8); loud singing is encouraged (Psalm 66:8); cymbals clash in praise (Psalm 150); God shouts aloud (Isaiah 42); his voice is like the sound of many waters (Ezekiel 43); Jesus prays with loud cries and tears (Hebrews 5) and even creation groans (Romans 8).

On the day of Pentecost they heard ‘a sound like the blowing of a violent wind’ that ‘came from heaven’ (Acts 2:2). In today’s passages we hear other sounds going to and from heaven.


Psalm 69:29-36

29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
   may your salvation, God, protect me.

30 I will praise God’s name in song
   and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
   more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad —
   you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy
   and does not despise his captive people.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
   the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
   and rebuild the cities of Judah.
   Then people will settle there and possess it;
36 the children of his servants will inherit it,
   and those who love his name will dwell there.


Sounds of worship

The Bible is realistic. There are times when we are ‘in pain and distress’ (v.29). David doesn’t try to ignore the problems he faces. Yet, he still chooses to worship God in spite of his circumstances. Even in the depths, you can still be sure of who God is and worship him.

This psalm ends with the sound of worship: ‘I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving… Let heaven and earth praise him’ (vv.30,34). Worship goes on not only on earth, but also in heaven. When you worship, you are joining in the sounds of heaven. Here, we see three aspects of worship:

1. Worship involves the will

David says, ‘I will praise God’s name’ (v.30). You may not always feel like worshipping God but it is a decision you make; it is an act of the will.

2. Worship pleases God

‘This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs’ (v.31).

3. Worship affects others

‘The poor will see and be glad – you who seek God, may your hearts live!’ (v.32). I have noticed how those ‘who seek God’ on Alpha are often moved by the worship, and as a result their ‘hearts live’.


Lord, whatever my circumstances, help me to praise your name in song and glorify you with thanksgiving.
New Testament

Acts 1:23-2:21

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Peter Addresses the Crowd

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

  17 “‘In the last days, God says,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
  Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your young men will see visions,
   your old men will dream dreams.
  18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
  and they will prophesy.
  19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
   and signs on the earth below,
  blood and fire and billows of smoke.
  20 The sun will be turned to darkness
   and the moon to blood
  before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
  21 And everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.’


Sounds of the Holy Spirit

This is for you and me. The experience of Pentecost is not just a historic event; it can become a present reality for you (2:29). As Joel prophesied: ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all’ – men and women, old and young, rich and poor (vv.17–21). That definitely includes you and me!

  1. Seek the experience

    The experience of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost involved three things:

    First, it involved power from God. They heard a gale. This was not an actual gale. It was ‘a sound like the blowing of a violent wind’ (v.2). It sounds as if it may have resembled a heavy tropical rainstorm. This is the mighty invisible power of God. It was the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality.

    The Hebrew word ‘Ruach’ literally means ‘breath’ or ‘wind’. Ruach is used in the Old Testament for the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God. The day of Pentecost was the fulfilment of when Jesus had breathed on the disciples and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22).

    Supremely, the experience of the Holy Spirit is an experience of God’s love for you (Romans 5:5). It is the way in which you feel God’s love for you, so that you can say with the apostle Paul, ‘the Son of God… loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). As Rick Warren says, ‘to feel loved by God… is the starting point for every ministry, every revival, every renewal, every great awakening.’

    The Holy Spirit is the one who provides the power for all revivals, and he does it supremely by enabling the people of God to feel, experience and know in their hearts the love of God. It is the kind of knowledge that travels from your head to your heart.

    Second, it involved fire from God. They saw fire. Again, this was not an actual fire: ‘There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which were settled on each one of them’ (Acts 2:3, AMP). This again was an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality. The fire of God’s love represents the power, purity and passion of God.

    Wherever there is an experience of the Holy Spirit, he brings a new fire and passion to your life.

    Third, it involved languages from God: ‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them’ (v.4). These were heavenly languages they had not learnt. The apostle Paul speaks about ‘heavenly tongues’ as well as ‘human’ tongues (1 Corinthians 13:1). The languages were recognised, and the whole known world was represented (vv.5–11). This was a reversal of the chaos and disunity of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9).

    The experience of God’s love through the Holy Spirit brings unity to the church. As we recognise that the same Holy Spirit is at work in Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Pentecostals of whatever church or denomination, there is a healing of division and a visible experience of unity.

    On the day of Pentecost there were three reactions (all of which we see today to the ministry of the Holy Spirit). The first reaction was amazement. Some were ‘utterly amazed’ (Acts 2:7). The second reaction was perplexity. ‘Perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”’ (v.12). The third reaction was ridicule. ‘Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine”’ (v.13).

  2. Study the explanation

    Peter explained what was happening (v.14f).

    First, he countered a false explanation (v.15). Some were offering a natural explanation for something supernatural. It may have looked as if they were drunk because they were so exuberant and had lost their inhibitions. However, this was not intoxication with wine but the sober intoxication of the Spirit – the only kind of intoxication that leaves you without a hangover!

    Then, he offered the true explanation (v.16f). Peter began his speech by pointing out that this is biblical (we will see the rest of the explanation tomorrow). Some people draw a false dichotomy between the word and the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is the author of the word of God. The Old Testament – that is, the word of God – points towards this outpouring of the Holy Spirit (vv.16–20). Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, goes back to the Bible. The Holy Spirit brings a hunger for the word of God.


Lord, I pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May the fire of God descend upon me and on the church again with power, passion and purity.
Old Testament

2 Samuel 5:6-6:23

David Conquers Jerusalem

6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion —which is the City of David.

8 On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.

11 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. 12 Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

David Defeats the Philistines

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.

The Ark Brought to Jerusalem

6 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.”

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.


Sounds of celebration

Before we look at the sounds of celebration, it is worth noting that there is another mention of sound in this passage. When David enquired of the Lord whether he should go on the attack, the Lord first answered, ‘Go’ (5:19). Then, the second time he enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but… As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly’ (vv.23–24).

It is not clear exactly what this means. However, it is an evocative expression. Perhaps, it means that as soon as we hear that God is on the move, we should act quickly.

God gave David victory, and this led to a great celebration. ‘David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals’ (6:5). It must have been extremely noisy!

David danced and worshipped God in a very demonstrative way: ‘David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might…’ (v.14). David’s wife, Michal, was embarrassed and ‘despised him in her heart’ (v.16) for his display of passion.

David replies that he will continue to worship even more passionately and boldly than before: ‘David said to Michal… “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this”’ (vv.21–22). Here, we see a biblical example of loud and uninhibited celebration. There is a warning in this passage against looking down or despising the way others express their worship to God (v.23). Of course, we must avoid exhibitionism. But David’s exuberance came from the heart and was a genuine act of celebration.

We need to be sensitive to those around us – especially, for example, in the early weeks of Alpha when there are lots of people around who are not used to exuberant worship. However, generally you should feel free to express your worship to God as passionately as you want, not worrying about what other people might think of you.


Lord, may the churches again be filled with the sound of worship and celebration. May every [Alpha]( Weekend be filled with the sound of the pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly sounds of worship and celebration to the glory of your name.

Pippa adds

In 2 Samuel 6:14-16 it says:

‘David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might… Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.’

I have some sympathy with Michal; I have been tempted to despise liturgical dance in the past. Maybe I need to get rid of some inhibitions. I’m not sure about the ephod but watch out on Sunday!

Verse of the Day

Acts 2:21

‘… everyone who calls
  on the name of the Lord will be saved’.



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