His Mercy is Our Song

Music by Mary!

Music by Mary!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.  Psalm 100 KJV

As do millions of other humans planet-wide, I love music.  We used to sing the above Psalm at Bible camp and therefore the words are still firmly wedged in my mind.  Music can get a hold of you in a way that no other medium can.  Why else would radio stations still exist in this world of high-flying technology and digital video players?  We like to crank our favourite songs and A).  dance wildly, B).  cry our eyes out, or C).  write a blog…

BUT is music of God? Should we be so involved in it as Christians?

OF COURSE (see the above Psalm).  How do I know this…

Music, as mentioned in the Bible, goes quite a ways back in history.  Many of the Psalms written by David starts out with a note “for the director of music” which logically suggests that he anticipated that his writings would be put to music and sung.

By David’s time there was even a designated group of Levites who were set aside for the praise and worship team.  31 These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. 32 They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. 1 Chronicles 6: 31, 32 NIV

We find this worship team mentioned many times throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;    
his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud,14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.
2 Chronicles 5:12 – 14 NIV

“…for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God”…and aren’t we God’s temple?

We find mention of music and singing continuing on into New Testament times as well.  After Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples they sang a hymn.  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  Matthew 26:30 NIV

OK, time for the big debate–AS CHRISTIANS, WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC SHOULD WE SING or PLAY?

What does God say?

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:18b – 20 NIV

Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another wth all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your in your heart to God. Colossians 3:16 NIV 84

We are to sing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (songs from the Spirit)” which kind of covers it all, from the Bible’s Psalm 100, to the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness, to the chorus Blessed Be the Name, to Manafest’s Human.  Do you notice, though, that it is not the type of song we sing that seems to be the most important thing, but rather that we sing with the right attitude–thanksgiving and gratitude to God.

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
how profound your thoughts!
But you, Lord, are forever exalted.  Psalm 92:1 – 5, 8 NIV

So, there is a reason why music touches our souls–God designed us this way!  Our souls long to sing praises to our God, to share His incredible love for us, as Group1Crew writes in their song His Kind of Love:

There are no words, no phrase I could create
There is no melody that I could make
How do you sing about the love so deep
Without feeling like you missed something
I could try but I could not explain

His kind of love 
Is reckless for us
His kind of love it will never give up
‘Til the whole world knows how far He went to show
His kind of love

This is our God
He is strong and His mercy is our song
He won’t stop chasing us
That’s just His kind of love

God sings to us through bird song, whispering winds, the voices of our loved ones, through music.  He has given us so much and loves us with a depth that we can’t even imagine.  We learn in Luke 19:37 – 40 from Jesus that if His disciples didn’t cry out in song, the rocks would!

Do we want to leave the rocks to cry out the blessings of the Lord?  No, this is our job.

Therefore, sing and make music to the Lord!  Lift up your voice in song!  Sing of our God in a mighty voice as a fragrant offering to our God!  Try to explain in words how amazing is the grace of our God!  May He feel our thanks and our gratitude and may others feel His mercy and grace!

The Flower Duet

One of my favourite pieces of music to listen to is a famous aria from Lakme, the Flower Duet.  Lakmé is an opera by Léo Delibes to a French libretto (written in 1881–1882).  Yes, I speak a little French but I have NO idea what these two ladies are singing about…and I like it this way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JzrqVkyRbM (please persist–the first bit is just part of the libretto).

Quite frankly, I’m afraid to find out what they’re singing.

Why am I afraid?  Part of me is afraid because Lakme is an opera and so who knows what what kind of things they may be saying to eachother!  I would just rather not know!  The other part of me is afraid because sometimes the beauty I see is in not knowing, but in hearing the haunting melody, making up my own idea of what they are saying.

Now, this may be OK with an aria (especially when what they’re saying is as inane as this one [yes, I did look into it–curiosity, a family trait!]), but this is not a good way to be with God.  We singles may be used to thinking our own thoughts, kind of being in our own heads most of the time and we might like it this way.  We might like to hear the words being sung and spoken at church, we might like reading the Bible and thinking of it’s beautiful poetry, but when you get right down to it (if we are honest with ourselves…) there are times when we don’t really want to know what God is saying to us.

What if He wants me to be a missionary and I have to move to Africa?  What if He wants me to quit my job and go into the ministry?  What if he wants me to join a Baptist convent and move to Siberia (or Canada!) and sew baby caps until my eyes grow dim?

What if He wants me to talk to that fellow sitting next to me?  What if He wants me to talk to my co-worker about Him?

Hmmmm….I’d just rather not know what He wants for me sometimes.  I can handle what’s on my plate right now.  Cheers to inertia!

Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.
— James Belasco and Ralph Stayer Flight of the Buffalo (1994)

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
–C. S. Lewis

We would rather play in a mud puddle than journey to the ocean side with God.  Funny, isn’t it?  Even though we know that God wants the best for us.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11  NIV

If  only I could get my silly human head to understand this, my silly human heart to believe it!

Prayer:  Father, please give my the courage to face up to what it is you want to say to me, the faith to trust that what You want is the best (and the ability to have these two things for more than the next five minutes!) and the patience to wait on You.

Amen!