One of the greatest influences in the world is found in the power of music. Hans Christian Anderson once said: “Where words fail, music speaks.” Music can change the world because it can change people. Bible lovers recall Paul and Silas in prison, singing at midnight, to an audience of prisoners, authorities, and God. A mighty earthquake shook the place as though the Lord was adding His approval. We read of Jesus singing a hymn at supper in the upper room with His disciples before the agony of Calvary (Matt. 26:30 NLT). Persecuted Christians who died for their faith often accompanied their martyrdom with singing.
Sometimes it is difficult to sing, as was the case when God’s people, prisoners in Babylon for seventy years, sobbed: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Ps. 147:4 NLT).” We cannot forget the days of slavery and the underground railroad in our own country when homesick African Americans moaned spiritual songs of survival and freedom. This Psalm reveals occasions when singing should continue or stop.
1. When Singing is Prevalent
It was a tough time for Israel to sing. Jerusalem was destroyed, Solomon’s temple lay in ruins, the people of God were slaves, and now they were being taunted to sing. Beloved, I believe we ought to sing in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. These Jews should have sung in Babylon. It would have been a clear testimony to their enemy, and a source of encouragement to themselves. Both Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 NLT urge us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs not only among ourselves, but especially to God! Singing, like prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance, should be a faithful practice. Whenever any of these activities are abandoned, we begin to slide downhill spiritually. I remember the spirit of singing that pervaded our country during World War II. Times were challenging, but a wave of patriotic singing filled the air as faithful servicemembers fought the battle of freedom for us. Who can forget the nine-eleven tragedy in New York City when a new spirit of hope and optimism produced music? Even members of Congress were seen singing hymns on the steps of the Capital in Washington, DC. No matter what the conditions are, let us sing on; let us get into the habit of singing.
2. When Singing is Postponed:
The Israelites believed it was not a time to sing because of:
- Sinful climate that prevailed. In my devotions I read about Australia’s honeyeater bird’s danger of extinction because the males had forgotten their mating song. Conservationists played recordings of other honeyeaters singing, hoping the males would learn the tune, attract females, and build a larger family. The prophet Zephaniah warned the people of Jerusalem concerning God’s impending judgment. When judgment occurred, the people lost their song, but God brought joy and restoration back to Zion. Zephaniah 3:17 NCV reports God saying, “The Lordyour God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.” Notice that God also sings over us songs of His love and grace.
- Successful Conditions. Prosperity is a far greater silencer of song than trials are. When people are inflated with pride, conceit, and self-sufficiency, they forget God. Prosperity increases our obligation as God’s stewards to continue singing the Lord’s song because “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required (Luke 12:48 ASV).”
- Sad Consequences. H. H. Spafford, a devoted Christian musician, put his wife and four daughters on a ship for England, hoping to join them later. But the vessel crashed into another ship and sank in twelve minutes. His wife survived, but his daughters drowned. Later he sailed to the location of the accident and composed this hymn:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billow roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”
3. When We Are to Keep On Singing, Whatever the Conditions:
Singing is Promoted. Singing is glorious in all phases of life. I remember as a boy in summer camp singing some of those old camp songs around a campfire or high atop a vesper hill somewhere. I still get chill bumps when I hear the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or the National Anthem performed. So, sing like Paul and Silas. Sing in times of sickness. Sing in times of bereavement. Sing when your plans fail. As Col. 3:16 MSG explains: “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
The Gaithers created a beautiful testimony of the importance of singing God’s song:
GOD GAVE THE SONG
“You ask me why my heart keeps singing Why I can sing when things go wrong.
But since I’ve found the source of music, I just can’t help it. God gave the song…
Come on and join, It’s the song of Jesus Day after day that song goes on
For once you know the source of music, You’ll always hear it. God gave the song.
For since I’ve found the source of music, I just can’t help it. God gave the song.”
Are you singing God’s Song?