– Life is hard.Israel had endured centuries and generations of hardship. Mostly this was due to their own sinful choices and rejecting the Lord’s way. But with each return came singing and worship of God. This is often seen in the “Wisdom Literature” of the Bible (specifically Psalms).
– Song and music are frequent in our life. We seldom get into a car without turning on the radio, or go out for a walk, bike or some exercise without putting on headphones from our ipod.
– Someone in history said, “Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” Quoted in D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There, p.85.
EXAMINE The God Who Gives Song (Job – SoS)
So far in this series:
God who commands worship: In the books of Genesis – Deuteronomy, God creates and commands people to know and worship Him. He gives specific instructions for the nation in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) and also the priests (Exodus; Leviticus). God expects to be heard and obeyed (Deuteronomy 6:3).
God who leads: In the books of Joshua – Esther, God leads people together to be His special possession, distinct for His purpose as the nation ofIsrael. They experience times of significance, as under King David (2Samuel 7); as well as times of suffering from rejection of God’s commands and becoming a divided nation under various kings (Judges; 1-2 Kings).
The Wisdom Literature (Job – SoS) covers a period of over 1500 years, largely underIsraelas a divided kingdom. In fact, the book of Job was likely the first book of the Bible written and centuries later the various Psalms & Proverbs along with Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.
God who gives song: The Bible is full of singing and music. When Eve was created, Adam sung to her (Genesis 2:23). When God’s people were delivered from Egyptian slavery, they sang to the Lord (Exodus 15). The Israelites sang at both national heights (1Chronicles 16 – 20) and times of national despair (Nehemiah 8 – 9). The New Testament opens with great singing from the Angels and Mary the virgin mother at the first coming of Jesus (Luke 1-2). The early church likewise sang in community (Acts 2:47) and in challenges (Acts 16) and of course at the new creation there is repeated praise before the throne of King Jesus (Revelation 19). And more, there is one book that could be classified as the hymnbook of believers, in the Psalms, which were more often than not written to music and to be sung as a praise or declaration to God.
In all, this message will explore the Wisdom Literature for reasons why God’s people sing.
GOD GIVES SONG TO THE HURTING (Job 1:21; 2:9-10; 6:10; 13:15; 35:10)
As commonly known, Job is a historical book about God’s allowance of human suffering. Job was a follower & fearer of God and yet, God allowed Satan to test Job and his faith. Job experienced the misfortunes of
– Theft of livestock and servants (1:13-15)
– Fire destroyed property (1:16)
– Attack on servants (1:17)
– Wind storms destroy property and 10 children (1:18-19)
– Job’s body struck with painful sores (2:4-8)
Job 1:20-21 “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 2:9-10 “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Job 6:10 “This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”
Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.”
Human tendency in suffering is to turn to God and others and claim they do not understand; therefore turning away from them. The idea is that person is the only one who has experienced such hurt and pain to their level.
However, in light of the NT, such accusation is without merit based on the cross which Jesus died. The gospel is God’s way of reminding us He knows; He cares. He can help.
Job 35:10 “God [is] my maker who gives songs in the night”
Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me”
G.K. Chesterton said, “When belief in God becomes difficult, the tendency is to turn away from Him, but in Heaven’s name to what?”
ð Faith in God does not remove our problems but it does revise our perspective.
- Singing elevates our Godward perspective
- Singing encounters us with God’s presence
- Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come?
When Jesus is my portion, My constant friend is He.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” – Civilla D. Martin
GOD GIVES SONG TO THE SAINTS (Psalm 5:11; 30:4; 47:1-2; 51:14-15; 96:1-2)
The next book in the Wisdom Literature is the Psalms. Psalm means “praise, boast, glory or singing accompanied with musical accompaniment”. It is the title of a large section in the middle of the Bible. The Psalms are Israel’s hymnbook to praise God throughout their history. They are meant to be sung! It is a collection of material over the course of 1200 years written by different authors: 73 by David; Asaph (50, 73-83); Solomon (72, 127); Heman (88); Ethan (89); Moses (90); and Sons of Korah (42, 44-49, 84-85, 87). Psalms is divided into 5 Books with each concluding with a doxology: 1: 1-41; 2: 42-72; 3: 73-89; 4: 90-106; 5: 107-150
Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
Psalm 30:4 “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.”
Psalm 47:1-2 “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.”
Psalm 51:14-15 “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise.”
Psalm 63:1, 3 “O God you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water…Because your steadfast love is better than life my lips will praise you.”
Psalm 119:54, 62, 162, 171-172 “Your statutes have been my songs… At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules…I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil…My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word for all your commandments are right.”
Psalm 119:74 “Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word”
Do others sing to God because of your life’s Godward focus and priorities?
Psalm 96:1-2 “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.”
Psalm 150 Praise with multiple instruments… “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
ð Worship and singing are marks of saints (believers righteous because of Christ).
Today, we worship and shout at sporting events, we cheer the skills of a musical artist or at inspiring words of a speaker. Likewise, those who know the Word of God and the God of the Word, we should be people who sing loudly to and about the God who has redeemed us from sin, satan, and death.
- SPBC LOVING GOD: View worship more than stylistic entertainment and show; LIFE IS WARFARE AGAINST SATAN AND WORSHIP/SONG IS OUR WEAPON
2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”
- Encourage and PRAY for Kera and worship team as they lead us to sing to and about God
ð NOTE: The Psalms were literally the early church’s hymnbook. After about 1500 years of the same songs, some reforming Christians broke from singing only the psalms to creating new hymns that spoke of their current day’s context. The new hymn writers often stole tunes from the bars and taverns or created similar rich harmonies with distinct meter and set them to new godly lyrics that were sung in the church (How dare they!?!).
GOD GIVES SONG TO REMIND US OF ETERNITY (Ecclesiastes 3:12; 12:13-14)
PROVERBS: This books is included in the Wisdom literature and is self-explanatory. They are simple statements of truth meant to teach and exhort wise living. Ultimately, they teach us to fear God and keep His commandments (Proverbs 1:1-6; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
The book of Ecclesiastes is similar to Proverbs but more in narrative form. It is believed the same author of many proverbs is the same here, in King Solomon. It is a book quite relevant for the post-modern 21st Century that leaves the tensions of this world unresolved. God’s ways are not always understandable nor individual issues in cookie-cutter fashion.
The writer of Ecclesiastes views life and God in terms of eternity. Life in the temporal world is vain and utterly meaningless if eternity did not exist. Solomon’s pursuit of pleasure in this world failed in every way:
– Your life has no song if pleasure is found in yourself (2:1-3). Enjoyment, laughter, physical/emotional high
– Your life has no song if pleasure is found in possessions (2:4-7). Houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, ponds, forest…
– Your life has no song if pleasure is found in entertainment (2:8). Silver, gold, treasures of kings, singers, concubines
– Your life has no song if pleasure is found in success (2:9-11). Became great (fame), wisdom, indulged every desire
Money will buy:
A bed but not sleep
Books but not brains
Food but not appetite
Art but not beauty
House but not a home
Medicine but not health
Amusements but not happiness
Good life but not eternal life
Passport to everywhere but not heaven
Religion but not Relationship with God
ð Your life sings if pleasure is found in an eternal God (3:11-12; 12:13).
- 3:11-12 “God has put eternity into man’s heart…I perceived that whatever God does endures forever, nothing can be added to it, not taken from it. God has done it so that people fear before him.”
- 12:13-14 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
- C.S. Lewis, “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.
- Paul Tripp, “we often suffer often from an eternity amnesia that causes us to ask this present world to be what it simply will never be. We want our here-and-now [life]to behave as if it’s our final destination, when actually what we are experiencing right here, right now is preparation for the destination to come… Unless we live with the daily knowledge that God’s promises only reach their complete fulfillment in the world to come, we will feel as if we’ve been hit with a cosmic bait and switch. The taste we get of God’s good gifts in the here and now are meant to keep us hungering for the full meal that is waiting for us in eternity… Eternity confronts any thoughts of impossibility and futility by reminding me that what I am experiencing is not permanent.
This week October 2011, Steve Jobs passed away. He was an incredible innovator and visionary, creating products that have impacted life in this world. In 2005 he delivered a commencement speech at StanfordUniversitywith a line in recognition of his health condition but also overarching his life: “Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent…”
Indeed, death is a reality we face but if we face it without hope of an eternal life in heaven with God then we fail to understand life’s purpose of joy and ability to sing.
Jobs lived to improve life for the now, Jesus died to save life forever