The Transforming Power of Biblical Worship, pt. 4"
“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.” “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our sal-vation!” “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD.”
“About mid-night Paul and Silas were praying and sing-ing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankful-ness in your hearts to God.” “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’”
The testimony of Scripture is that God’s peo-ple are a singing people. The above verses are but a small sampling that illustrate that point. But have you ever asked “why?” Why should we sing? In their little book “Sing! How Wor-ship Transforms Your Life, Family, & Church,” Keith and Kristyn Getty offer three primary reasons: we were created to sing, we are commanded to sing, and we are compelled to sing. First, we were created to sing. God created our bodies and minds with the ability to make music; to produce notes through the vibration of vocal chords in our throat, to rec-ognize pitch and to understand tone. We have an incredible capacity to memorize lyrics when they are set to music. We also experi-ence deep emotional connections with the songs that we learn to sing. This is why it is important that we learn to sing biblically based, theologically rich psalms and hymns.
The second reason why we should sing is be-cause God’s Word commands us to sing…it’s as simple as that. We cannot simply dismiss this command and say it doesn’t apply to us. If we do not sing we are disobeying God’s Word. “Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!” (Psalm 149:1) As a worship leader I have a unique perspective each Sunday morning. I get to look out at the entire congregation and see your faces when we sing. I see how certain songs “strike a chord” with some of you and are especially meaningful to you. I have also seen, not here thankfully, but in other church-es, that some people refuse to sing. They (it’s usually the men) cross their arms, have a sour look on their face, and “tolerate” the singing, hoping it will end as quickly as possible. When I see that kind of attitude to the singing of God’s praise, it breaks my heart. I know that some people will say that they can’t sing or they can’t stay on pitch. But that is no val-id excuse for not singing! I have a friend in another church who I honestly believe is tone deaf. He cannot sing the right note to save his life, but he sings with such joy and bravado that my spirits are lifted when I hear him praising God (even if my ears tremble a bit at the sound).
Let me give an extra word of encouragement to the men. You must sing for the sake of the children in the church. Young boys (and girls, but especially the boys) will look up to their fathers to see if they are singing. If you don’t, you’re communicating to your children that this part of worship is not important or is somehow “un-manly.” Men, you need to be the leaders in singing, both in your homes and in the church. Being the leader doesn’t mean you need to be the loudest voice in the room. It simply means you must lead by example and show to your children and the rest that the singing of God’s praise is our great delight.
The final reason the Gettys articulate is that we are com-pelled to sing. As we contemplate the marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that took rebel sinners like us and brought us from darkness into God’s marvelous light, we cannot help but sing. You were once an enemy of God but now you are his child. You were dead in sin, but God has made you alive in Christ Jesus. As you think of the self-humbling, sacrificial life and death of your Savior, how can you not burst forth in praise, thanksgiving, and adoration of his name in song? Such rich theology naturally produces vibrant doxology (praise). We sing because we must! We sing because we’ve been set free!
Read the Word, Preach the Word, Sing the Word, Pray the Word, and See the Word. These elements form the structure of our worship. Next month we’ll come back to this subject of singing the word and ask the question, “What should we sing in worship?” It is my hope and prayer that these few thoughts on singing will stir your hearts to sing and rejoice in the Lord!
1 Psalm 96:1-2
2 Psalm 95:1
3 Zechariah 2:10
4 Acts 16:25
5 Colossians 3:16
6 James 5:13
7 Revelation 5:9-10