What Are You Singing Today?
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage (Psa. 119:54).
If you have ever sung songs on long road trips, you know the value of singing while journeying. It helps time pass more quickly. It helps the mood stay positive. It helps recall home. It binds travellers together.
It isn’t surprising, then, that the author of Psalm 119 sang a lot on life’s journey. After all, he penned the longest song of the Bible! It’s what he sings that is more remarkable. He sings God’s “statutes.” He sang God’s words back to him.
Helps for Singing
Singing does not always come easy. There are times when the Christian feels weary or discouraged, and we can’t find the words or the tune or both to begin singing. The people in exile asked this exact question: ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?'(Psa. 137:4). Yet God helps his children.
He helps them through his Word. The Word has such a range of heights and depths and God can use them to give voice to our feelings, which otherwise would remain bottled up. Moreover, his Word has promises for every situation and circumstance. There is a promise for when we pass through water and fire (Isa. 43:2). There is a promise for when we need water and can’t find any (Isa. 41:17). There is a promise for when we don’t know which way to go (Isa. 42:16). God helps us through the very words he gives us to sing.
He points them to his Son. Think of Jesus, who, on the night of his betrayal, went out and sang a hymn (Mark 14:26). According to Jewish custom, it was probably Psalms 113-118. By looking to him, believers can sing the song of redemption after him, even in their dark times.
He sends his Spirit. What a help the Spirit is! He takes God’s Word and applies it to hearts that otherwise would know nothing of true singing. He enlivens souls to receive the engrafted Word and echo it back in melody to the God who gave it in the first place.
Benefits of Singing
Singing God’s Word is beneficial to believers at different levels.
It invigorates. Just as physical exercise helps our lungs, so regular singing helps our spiritual capacities. Moreover, singing God’s Word reminds us of God’s truth. It encourages us with God’s promises. It guides us with God’s precepts.
It reaches others. Corporations and politicians understand that you can reach people at a very emotional and intuitive level if you turn something into a song. Training our children to sing God’s truth helps them memorize it in a way that stays with them far more easily. Singing can be a very helpful part of evangelism. God can use it to call and disciple new converts, or help older ones.
It exalts the Lord. David tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people (Psa. 22:3). Literally, that means that God is enthroned on the songs of believers. God doesn’t need a physical throne. Wherever people sing his praise, he is content to come and make his abode. Is it any wonder then that heaven rings with song (Rev. 4:11)? May the Lord tune our hearts today to echo his Word in to his glory.
Dr. Gerald M. Bilkes is Professor of Old and New Testament at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the Free Reformed churches of North America. Taken with permission from The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, September 2010.
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