Saturday, June 5, 2010

Random Thoughts on Music

“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” (Psl.47:6-7)

I offer here for your consideration a few thoughts on something very dear to my heart: music. In particular, singing, since that has been my personal pleasure, and, I have been told, a personal gift. My thoughts are only original to me, for they are taken from the Word of God, the Creator of music, who alone can bring harmony to a discordant life.

Martin Luther said, “Music is a fair and lovely gift of God, which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching…Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor.” There is an interesting verse in 2 Kings, where Elisha, when called upon to give a word from God to the kings of Israel and Judah, requests first for a minstrel to be brought in. And in verse fifteen we read, “And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him" (2 Kings 3:14). And I must tell you that through the years, I have heard many ministers of the gospel say what amounted to the same thing.

Making a quick run through the Bible, I find many examples of the place of music, and especially singing, in the tapestry of life. Here are but a few:

God told Job that in eternity past, before He ever laid the foundations of the earth, “the morning stars (angels?) sang together for joy” (Job 38:7). You will find the children of Israel singing, and on one occasion, with Moses and Miriam taking solo parts (Exodus 15). For a duet, one need only listen in as Deborah and Barack, in Judges five, sing a duet of victory over their enemies. David promised there would be songs in the night (Psl. 42:8); and Paul and Silas proved it when they sang at midnight—in a prison, of all places (Acts 16:25). Jesus and His disciples sang a song of benediction after partaking of their last supper together in the upper room (Matt.26:30), a practice I like to see repeated when we celebrate the Lord’s Table. Finally, there will be singing in eternity future—a “new song” (Rev.14:3) that only a few (relatively speaking) will be able to learn (I know what that’s like!); and then an old song composed by Moses is revived in Rev.15:3. Wouldn’t you songwriters love to write a song worthy to be sung in Heaven?

From the Apostle Paul we learn that singing should take one of three forms (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3: 16): 1) Psalms by God; 2) hymns to God; and 3) spiritual songs about God. Whether audible or in our hearts, this kind of singing is an evidence of the Spirit’s filling. He tells us our singing should be Scripture based as well as Spirit-breathed. Its purpose should not be for entertainment, but for admonition and edification. When I sing, I either want God to know I'm singing to Him, or I want my audience to know I am singing about Him to them. One way or the other, it's personal with me.

I read a story once about a dear old saint who had preached the gospel for many years. For some reason known only to God, he developed cancer in his mouth and tongue. Finally, the time came when the only hope of prolonging his life was to cut out his tongue. Before administering the anesthesia, they asked him if he wanted to say one last thing. The old man thought for a minute then began singing the strains of the great hymn, “There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.” It was said that there was not a dry eye in the operating room, especially when he loudly sang,

Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing thy power to save.

When this poor, trembling, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Singing has always been one of my greatest joys and comforts. It has given me a means to communicate feelings and emotions I desperately long to express. Truths I might be hesitant to share verbally, because of "the fear of man," I strangely find the courage to express in song, even in the most daunting company!

By God’s grace, I pledge with the Psalmist:“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being”

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