Psalm 106:48 (NKJV) 

48Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord! 

For several weeks now we have been exploring why our elders incorporate various traditions in our corporate worship. Today we consider our practice of shouting, “Amen!”, after singing psalms and hymns. Why do we do this?

The declaration, “Amen!”, is a means of affirming what has been said. It is shorthand for, “So be it! That’s right! That’s true! I agree with that!” or even, “May that come to pass!” So, in our text today, the people are to say, “Amen!” upon hearing the declaration, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!” Similarly, the Apostle John closed Revelation by responding, “Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” to Jesus’ declaration, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:20).

Last week we saw this same dynamic at work in the curses of Deuteronomy 27. After Israel entered the Promised Land, the Levites were to speak with a “loud voice and say to all the men of Israel:”

15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ 

“And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’ 

16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’ 

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ 

17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ 

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ 

18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’ 

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ 

19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ 

“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ 

Each time the people shouted, “Amen!” they were affirming their agreement with what was said. So when we pray or sing and close by saying, “Amen!”, or when we shout, “Amen!” during the sermon, we are saying, “So be it! I agree with that! May these things truly come to pass!” 

So how ought we to speak this “Amen!”? First, make sure you agree with what has been said or sung. And this of course means that we must pay attention to the words we are singing and make sure we do agree. Don’t say, “Amen!” if you don’t mean it. Part of our elders’ rationale for singing the psalms and other substantive hymns is to protect us from saying, “Amen!”, to things that we ought not affirm. If the lyrics affirm, “Good is evil, and evil is good!” the last thing that you should say is, “Amen!” Say, “God forbid!” or “Certainly not!” but don’t say, “Amen!” Why not? Because to say, “Amen!” is to declare that you agree with what was said or that you truly want it to happen.

Second, issue your, “Amen!” heartily. Either you agree with what has been said or you don’t. If you do, then do it. Don’t mumble or halt between two opinions. You’ll note that the “Amens!” in your Bible are typically printed with an exclamation mark. That’s because they are exclamations. And the word “exclamation” comes from two Latin words: ex, which means “out,” and clamare, which means “to shout.” So you’re supposed to “shout it out”! Say it like you mean it. “Amen!”

Reminded that we often approve of things that we should condemn and that we are often tepid rather than hearty in our approval of what God has said, let us confess our error and complacency to the Lord. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins.