"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."(Ephesians 5: 18, 19KJV)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3: 16KJV)
Christians are encouraged to be regular singers of spiritual songs, to express their joy and devotion to the Lord in making music. It is a part of worship and service to the Lord to sing to him with the soul, spirit, heart, and mind.
Singing that isacceptable andpleasing to theLordis such that is done "with the Spirit" and "with theheart" and "with theunderstanding"and "with grace."
"What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I willsing with the spirit, and I willsing with the understanding also." (I Corinthians 14: 15KJV)
Tosingwith the accompaniment of musical instruments, such as a harp or organ, is one thing, but tosingspiritual songs to the Lord with the accompaniment of the heartis another.
"My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing andmake music with all my soul." (Psalm 108: 1NIV)
Not only is singing andmaking music ("melody') to the Lord a means of communicating the message of God, and of worshiping andserving him, but is also a part of the life of those who are "filled with the Spirit" and who have the "word of Christdwelling in them richly."
When Christians sing together they are not only giving adoration and praisetogether to the Lord, but are doing service to themselves and to each other, using this means to both "teach" and "admonish" (or'exhort' and 'encourage')themselves and one another.
Christians are called to sing the word of God, or the gospel, it being a way of communicating ('preaching' or 'proclaiming') the gospel message and also, as we shall see, a means for an individual's memorizing or "laying up in heart" the words of God.
"I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations." (Psalm 89: 1 NIV)
"Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world." (Isaiah 12: 5NIV)
"May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous." (Psalm 110: 172NIV)
Notice how David connects singing with making known the word of God to others. Singing the word and truth of God is a way of revealing andcommunicating information about the character and works of God.
"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise." (James 5: 13NIV)
"Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one whosings songs to a heavy heart." (Proverbs 25: 20NIV)
As a general rule, singing songs of praise, or happy and joyful songs, is not the remedy or prescription for one who is sad, depressed, or in great sorrow of spirit. Such an one does not "feel like" singing, but rather like crying, or praying (petitioning or begging) God for help and mercy.
Yes, there is such a thing as "singingthe blues," and of singing in a"minor key," of singing about our sufferings, but of this type of singing the scriptures do notencourage or command. Many of the Psalms were written, in part, in a "minor key," wherein the singer andplayer of instruments put forth mournful music. But, even in these Psalms, the songs in minor key are within the context of the major, either beginning or ending in the major. No, the remedy or prescription for the grieved and burdened is for them to "pray" rather than to "sing."
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart maysing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever." (Psalm 30: 11, 12NIV)
Those who sing spiritually and pleasingly to the Lord sing out of joy and not out of grief. To sing is evidence of joy experienced. Notice too how not only is godly and spiritual singing done from joyous heart but from a grateful heart, being offered not only with grace and with the Spirit and understanding, but also "with thanksgiving."
Singing is thus a way ofexpressing joy and of uplifting the spirit and encouraging and exciting hope and expectation in the heart, while prayer is a way of dealing with grief.
"And when they (Jesus and his disciples) hadsung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." (Matthew 26: 30; Mark 14: 26KJV)
"So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (Hebrews 2: 11, 12NIV)
This was a prophecy of Christ. (Psalm 22: 22) It has been literally fulfilled. Christ demonstrated that it was both his duty and privilege to fulfill this service. Surely Christ sang to his Father and of the truth of scripturewith grace, with heartandspirit, and with grace, and with understanding!
"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." (Zechariah 3: 17NIV)
Again, this demonstrates that the Lord himself enjoys singing his own praises. The Lord Jesus will yet again sing with the saints in the coming day of celebration upon the return of Christ and his session on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
"And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD. David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals." (I Chronicles 15: 15, 16NIV)
"The LORD will save me, and we will singwith stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the LORD. " (Isaiah 38: 20 NIV)
"Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him...Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy." (Psalm 33: 1, 3NIV)
"Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;make music to our God on the harp." (Psalm 147: 7NIV)
These verses give authority for singing praises to God with musical instruments of all kinds and for special groups of the Lord's people to make it a ministry, being gifted of the Lord for such service. Even the saints in heaven and the angels play on harps and musical instrument as part of their exalted devotions.
"Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one whosings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practise." (Ezekiel 33: 32NIV)
Here the Lord refers to worldly or carnal music, which has as its primary purpose, not theworship of God or theteaching of his truth, but of the gratifying and pleasing of the sinful flesh, for mere entertainment value to the sensual nature of man. This music is enjoyed mostly because it "feels good," or delights the ear, but not the heart devoted to God. These worldly songsentertain the flesh but they do not improve the morals or heart of the individuals who sing or play them.
"I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me." (Psalm 13: 6 NIV)
"Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might." (Psalm 21: 13NIV)
"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." (Psalm 59: 16NIV)
"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90: 14NIV)
"For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands." (Psalm 92: 4NIV)
"Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness." (Psalm 51: 14NIV)
The subject matter of the songs of the Lord's people is the goodness, and righteousness, and unfailing love, and almighty power, and glorious works of the Lord. These topics are also the impetus for singing and rejoicing the heart. There is nothing better than "good news" to cheer the heart! "God has been good to me" should be enough reason to induceevery man to at once break out in joyous singing to God!
"Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day." (Psalm 96: 2NIV)
"I willsing to the LORD all my life; I willsing praise to my God as long as I live." (Psalm 104: 33NIV)
Singing is "praising" and is therefore an act ofworship to God. It is a way of "giving back" to God, of giving his his "due." It is also something that the Lord's people do regularly, yea, "all their lives." It is that which characterizes their lives. They are a singing people, a people who "show forth the praises of him who has called them from darkness to light."
"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." (Psalm 145: 7NIV)
Singing praises and making spiritual music to the Lord is an act of"celebration." It is something they do steadily and regularly, day by day, and is jubilant, an uncommon joy, one that is "indescribable" or"unspeakable," and "full of glory." (I Peter 1: 8) Notice also how it is a view and recognition of the goodness and righteousness of God that spurs the soul to sing to the Lord, as way of giving him thanks andpraise.
"Praise the LORD. Howgood it is tosing praises to our God, how pleasant andfitting to praise him!" (Psalm 147: 1 NIV)
"Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise." (Psalm 47: 6, 7NIV)
Further reasons are given for why men ought to sing joyfully to the Lord. Besides being good and righteous, and omnipotent and glorious in his works and ways, but he is "King" or Sovereign of all things and all creatures. It is what men owe to God.Singing praise to God is also a thing good in itself,pleasing to God and beneficialto creatures, being"good" for them, that which is "fitting" and appropriate, what one would expect. It is also that which is "pleasant," both to God and to the singer of praise.
"Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their forefathers, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant." (Deuteronomy 31: 19, 20 NIV)
Notice how singing is here stated to be a means of recalling, and remembering, or committing to memory the teachings of God. Those who are expert in memory skills tell us that singing is one of the best ways of rememberingverse or words of texts. Often students are taught foreign languages by learning to sing the language. If we would have more of God's word memorized then we should commit ourselves to singing it regularly.
"Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD : "I will singto the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea." (Exodus 15: 1 KJV)
"On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: "When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the LORD! "Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I will sing to the LORD, I will sing; I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel..."You who ride on white donkeys, sitting on your saddle blankets, and you who walk along the road, consider the voice of the singers at the watering places. They recite the righteous acts of the LORD, the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel. "Then the people of the LORD went down to the city gates. 'Wake up, wake up, Deborah!Wake up, wake up, break out in song!" (Judges 5: 1-3, 10-12NIV)
Notice how singing praise to God was connected with celebration and with joy. Also, notice how Deborah sang the words of scripture and truth so that they might thereby be better known by the people.
"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. " (Psalm 40: 1-3 KJV)
"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5: 13NIV)
Friend, will youjoin in the praise? You are invited and called to join this heavenly chorus. If you but "call upon the name of the Lord" and ask him to deliver you from the "miry clay" or "quicksand" of your sins and sorrows, then he will surely deliver you, and take away your grief and give you a new song in your heart, and a skip in your step.