In the Bible it is written: “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” (Ja 5:13)
Sing Psalms. New Testament believers are encouraged to sing from the song book of the Old Testament saints when they are happy. What does this imply about our thinking and disposition in life? What does it imply about the place of the Law of God in our walk and worship? What does it mean for us in our topics of meditation and communion with God?
There are other places where our Father directs us to turn to the Psalms. In the midst of our daily walk and life we are to be “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph 5:19) We are to speak with ourselves and with others in the church as we live and walk together throughout the days. We are to know the Psalms well enough … have them well memorized … such that they are in our hearts, continually springing forth from our lips in praise, instruction, encouragement, and admonition. Similarly, each one of us are commanded to “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.” (Col 3:16) In our song, in our instruction, in our normal conversation, and in our daily communion with the saints, the Psalms of God are to be central in our hearts and lives.
Have you ever noticed what we sing about today in the meetings of the saints? In noticing this myself, I find that there is little more to our song than dwelling on the love of God, the mercy of God, and the blessing of God. Is this all that we should be singing about?
When is the last time that you heard a song in church about the wrath of God? A verse such as, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Ps 2:12) Perhaps it has been a while since you heard a refrain that called forth the vengeance of God upon His enemies, such as “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud. LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.” (Ps 94:1-5)
Where is the song in our hymnal, in our camp song book, or flashed across the dazzling splendor of our ecumenical temples… that evokes in us a sense of love and awe at the Law of God? Could we sing the majestic 119th Psalm today without raising the brazen cry of “Legalism!”, or perhaps a yawn?
Have we ever sung of the hatred of God? Have we ever even heard of it? Could you sing of the fact that God hates sinners? Can you worship Him Who hates all that do iniquity? “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” (Ps 5:5) Could you join with Him in this hatred in holy reverential ire, as you are encouraged to do? “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” (Ps 139:21-2)
In a day of unbridled lawlessness in the churches, a day of rank materialism, an hour of unashamed feminism, a day of coldness and self-absorbed emotionalism … is it a time to eliminate all from our song and worship but the love, grace, patience, and tenderness of God? Is there no more to our God than that … left in our theology, in our conversation, in our meditation?
Cannot someone cry aloud at this? Cannot anyone scream in violent disarray at the decimation of our public worship? Cannot anyone see that we have strayed so very far from God in our teaching, in our daily conversation … so far that we should scarcely bear the name of Christ at all? Who will draw near to God … as He really is … instead of what we spiritual adulterers feign Him to be? Who will cleanse their sinful, wicked hands and purify their OWN double-minded heart? Who will be afflicted and mourn and weep for God today? Who will let their laughter be turned to mourning and their joy to heaviness? Who will humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, until He lifts them up? (Jas 4:8-10)
What rich treasure awaits those who will! those who will sing to God from His own hymnal in spirit and in truth! If we would sing in truth to our God, what better truth to sing than that which comes of His own lips? If we would sing in the Spirit, His words are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63) If we would join the angels’ worship, we should leverage eternal words in seeking His presence in praise.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord, but those that have meditated much on His ways … in song, in thought, in communion with the saints?