a Poem by Bob Blankenship
I will sanctify your lips through praise
Shofars at the ready
Lift your voices, a holy anthem raise
Beat the drums steady
A cry of war shall proceed from your lips
As jars break and smash
Torches blazing the night sky in your grip
See what I shall bring to pass
The foundations of earth will begin to shift
As idols of men start crumbling
The fury of my judgment will be swift
As mountain praise starts rumbling
The high places you shall redeem with shouts
The valleys shall bend the knee
Those who have been silent will no longer doubt
As the sound of worship breaks free
The poem “Praise” by Bob Blankenship invites a deep and thoughtful critique from a worship and theological perspective. This piece utilizes vivid imagery and biblical allusions to convey the transformative and powerful nature of praise in the context of faith.
The opening stanza, “I will sanctify your lips through praise / Shofars at the ready,” immediately sets a tone of consecration and readiness for divine action, reminiscent of ancient Israelite practices where the shofar, a ram’s horn, was blown to signal the presence of God, call to worship, or herald significant events. This connection to historical acts of worship imbues the poem with a sense of continuity and tradition within the faith community.
As we move to “Lift your voices, a holy anthem raise / Beat the drums steady,” there is an emphasis on communal worship, invoking the collective action of raising voices in unison and the rhythmic beating of drums to maintain the cadence of the praise. This stanza captures the essence of worship as both a personal and communal act, where individuals come together to express their devotion and adoration for the divine.
The imagery of warfare and divine intervention in the lines “A cry of war shall proceed from your lips / As jars break and smash” is reminiscent of biblical narratives such as the battle of Jericho, where the Israelites circled the city and the walls fell after the priests blew the shofars and the people shouted. This metaphorical depiction of praise as a cry of war suggests that worship is not passive but an active engagement in spiritual battle, where the faithful are called to be participants in the unfolding of God’s will.
The subsequent verses, “The foundations of earth will begin to shift / As idols of men start crumbling,” speak to the transformative power of genuine worship. Here, the poem touches on the theme of idolatry and the idea that true praise has the power to dismantle the false idols and values that society often holds dear. This shift in foundations is both literal and metaphorical, indicating a profound change in the individual and collective life of the faithful.
In the final stanzas, “The high places you shall redeem with shouts / The valleys shall bend the knee,” there is a victorious tone that captures the essence of worship as an act of reclaiming and sanctification. The mention of high places, often associated with pagan worship in the Bible, and their redemption through shouts of praise, underscores the belief in the supremacy of God’s power over all other entities and the role of worship in affirming that power.
“The sound of worship breaks free” encapsulates the liberating and unifying effect of praise, suggesting that true worship transcends human limitations and barriers, allowing the faithful to connect with the divine in a profound and transformative manner.
In critiquing “Praise” by Bob Blankenship, it is evident that the poem is a rich tapestry of biblical allusions, vivid imagery, and deep theological insights. It challenges the reader to reflect on the nature and power of praise, not just as a form of worship, but as an act of spiritual warfare, transformation, and liberation. The poem serves as a reminder of the historical and contemporary significance of praise in the life of the faithful, inviting us to explore the depths of our own worship practices and their impact on our lives and the world around us.
Certainly, the poem “Praise” by Bob Blankenship draws on themes and images that resonate deeply with various passages from the Bible. Here is a curated selection of verses that relate to the poem’s content and themes:
Sanctification Through Praise:
Psalm 51:15: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
Hebrews 13:15: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Shofars and Worship:
Numbers 10:10: “Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”
Psalm 98:6: “With trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.”
Worship as Warfare:
2 Chronicles 20:21-22: “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Divine Intervention and Judgment:
Isaiah 2:12, 17-18: “The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)… The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.”
Jeremiah 51:20: “You are my war club, my weapon for battle— with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms.”
Transformation Through Worship:
Psalm 40:3: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
Acts 16:25-26: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
Victory and Redemption:
Psalm 47:1: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
Isaiah 55:12: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
These verses collectively underscore the power of praise and worship in the believer’s life, echoing the themes of sanctification, divine presence, spiritual warfare, transformation, and victory found in Blankenship’s poem.