Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Sometimes the best thing we can do when seeing things a bit gloomy is to sing a song of praise or put on a favorite piece of God-centered music. Twice the apostle Paul encourages those to whom he is writing to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

Ephesians 5:18-20 “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”

Colossians 3:15-17 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Songs are interesting things in that they remain hidden in our hearts until prompted, and then amazingly we remember them whether for good or otherwise. I remember far more songs than I do lectures, and I’m sure it is because of their musicality but maybe even more because of how I entered into them during the times that I sang them in the past. And when I sing them in the present, the emotions of the past come along in support. Oftentimes, however, it is not the whole song that I remember best but the chorus, for it is the choruses that often bring out the greatest emotion. Yet it is in the rest of the song that we often find the solid content that leads to our emotional response.

In Deuteronomy 31 the Lord spoke to Moses and told him that his time to die is near (verses 14 and following), and he was to commission Joshua to follow after him. The Lord also told Moses that the people would turn and follow after other gods, and spurn God and break His covenants. In preparation for this the Lord told Moses to write a song. We read this in Deuteronomy 31:19-22,

“Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant. Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.” So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel.

God knows the power of song and the ability of a song to hang in the closet of our hearts while other things are discarded. And God knows that in times of trouble just what a song can do to draw us back to Him and restore or refresh our hearts. As we move into the period of the Judges and the continued rebellion of the people, we find chapter 5 beginning with Deborah and Barak singing a song. In verse 12 we even read, “Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song!...” Throughout the Old Testament we see that singing a song was something that was both instructed and exampled, and most commonly when they sang it was a song of praise.

Psalm 33:1-5 Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy. For the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Even Jesus, our Lord, just before leaving the room on the night He was betrayed, Scripture records that He with His disciples sang a hymn (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).

I imagine that each of us has a song or two of praise that speak loudly to us about God’s glory, majesty and faithfulness. Sarah encourages us today to begin our days singing these songs to our God.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (6/25)

Open your hands and your heart to receive this day as a precious gift from Me. I begin each day with a sunrise, announcing My radiant Presence. By the time you rise from your bed, I have already prepared the way before you. I eagerly await your first conscious thought. I rejoice when you glance My way.

Bring Me the gift of thanksgiving, which opens your heart to rich communion with Me. Because I am God, from whom all blessings flow, thankfulness is the best way to draw near Me. Sing praise songs to Me; tell of My wondrous works. Remember that I take great delight in you; I rejoice over you with singing.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:2

“the Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

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