There is, young people, a very interesting and extremely important question that must be answered by all of us. By all means in the days when we are young men and women, but also when we were children, and all through our lives as adult confessing members of God’s church, we are confronted with a very awesome and very important question.
That question is this: How many times from Monday through Saturday do you, if not with your lips, but by all means with your heart, sing the words which we find in our Psalter – songs based very strictly on the Psalms, wherein truth is presented to us by our God?
Do you instead, and because of your flesh, prefer listening to the junk noise the world calls music? Do you enjoy the jazzy songs which the world composed and sings? Or do you with the Psalter number presentation of Psalm 96 “Sing a new song to Jehovah For the wonders He has wrought?” And what about Psalter number 259, which is also based on Psalm 96? There we sing:
“Sing to the Lord, sing His praise, all ye peoples,
New be your song as new honors ye pay;
sing of His majesty, bless Him forever,
Show His salvation from day to day.”
The sad thing is that in many churches today, and by those who call themselves Gospel Singers, they go with the world in its rock and roll, banging and slamming noise that they call music. Surely our God did not enjoy such noise, but it is Satan who brought into this world that which leads men farther and farther from God’s praise. He causes men to appeal to the flesh of other men, rather than to lead them in the way of sanctification of their souls. There really is no reverence and awe before our God, and His Son, our Savior, in that singing, even when the words are the truth of God’s word.
Take note of what we read in Ephesians 5:17-20, where Paul wrote, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is, 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; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, indeed, you may prefer the melody of one Psalter number, rather than of another that expresses the same truth. Thus, in Psalter numbers 262 and 263 we have the same words based on Psalm 98, and found in both Psalter numbers 262 and 263. The same is true of that which we sing from Psalm 80 in the first three stanzas of number 220 and the three complete stanzas of number 221.
Look up Psalm 126:1, 2 where we read “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen; The Lord hath done great things for them.”
What then about your Sundays? Do you sing with your heart, and with enthusiasm and joy, or merely out of custom and habit? Music is a beautiful and wonderful creation of our God, and you may prefer one melody more than the other. Thus, also God created us with preference for one color above another, and the taste of this food above that of another kind of food. But the absolute requirement is that we sing God’s praises; singing also of your needs and desire for spiritual things. Be sure, regardless of what melody you prefer, that you sing the truth, and sing it with your soul.
Do you, young people, sing the truth with enthusiasm? Sad to say I often see lips that barely open, and often that there are those who do not sing one word of the song, ordered because it touches so richly the truth in the sermon that is coming, or has been preached. And I do not merely mean you young people. Sometimes children will be singing enthusiastically – maybe because they like the music. But they do reveal what our calling is. And even if your voices are not always what men call pleasing, and not considered to be what flesh calls beautiful music, be sure that it is your heart that is singing, and is pleasing in our God’s ears. Never mind what people think of your singing. The question is whether you are singing that which pleases our God, and whether the truth is willingly coming out of your heart. What God thinks of the words which we sing in our hearts is what counts.
What we sing, as pointed out a moment ago, is whether we sing a new song to Jehovah. Take hold, young people, of that truth that God’s sanctified children sing a new song. We sing, by God’s grace, that which Adam and Eve did not yet sing before they fell into sin. And we sing, through the wonder of God’s grace, what we could not sing after Adam’s fall into sin. We sing of what God did for us in Christ and His cross and Spirit. We sing a new song for the wonders God has wrought through His Son. And we sing requesting what by nature we cannot sing and do not want to sing. We do not sing what the old man of sin sings for and about. We sing what by God’s grace is new in our lives, causing us to be thankful for our salvation, and because we desire blessings that by nature we do not and cannot want. We sing of the wonders God has wrought, and because He wrought this for us and in us.
Now music, as pointed out, is a wonderful invention and gift of our God. But it is not, in the children of God’s lives, as important as the words and truth in the spiritual songs. Thus also we read in Ephesians 5:19, 20, “Speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And if we enjoy the singing of soloists, those singing in duets, quartets and by all means in choirs, the words must be more enjoyable and interesting to us than the music. Our flesh can enjoy the music, but what counts is whether our souls enjoy the truth that is being sung. Are we praying with our souls, when we sing the truth in Psalter number 140, namely,
“God be merciful to me,
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.”
In connection with this call to sing a new song to Jehovah, I would like to present to you young people that which you probably do not know. There is sad evidence that now and then our churches do not walk in the spiritual life which was ours in the past. In the past our churches took the proper and spiritually awesome stand that we must not clap our hands to show appreciation for the music – not the words – which soloists, quartets or choirs sing of the truth in Scripture. The main, awesome and spiritually correct point is that we must enjoy the truth which was sung, not the music. We must praise God after hearing His truth sung to us, praise Him from Whom all blessings flow, not the person or persons who sang it.
Yes, I know, and want to call attention to the fact that we do read in Psalm 47:1 of the clapping of our hands. There we read: “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” But note that fact that we are called to clap our hands because of what God did; and we are to clap our hands before HIM, not before those who sang words of His praises. UNTO GOD we must clap our hands, not to those who did the singing. We must praise God, and not tell men that they presented some music that our flesh enjoyed. It is the triumph of God, not the beautiful music which men presented to us, that calls us to clap our hands before God, and not for the praise of those who sang.
We begin our church services, always singing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” That means that we do not praise men for what they did musically but not spiritually. If we merely enjoy the music, we ought to weep after clapping our hands, because we experienced delight about the music rather than the truth sung. We have revealed our enjoyment of music, not of our God’s wonderful works and grace in Christ.
It is, as the psalmist presents it; the triumph of what God did, not man. It is before our God that we clap, because we enjoy the truth of His work of grace. Clapping then must not be telling people that we enjoyed what they did, and leaving our blessed, gracious God pushed into the background. Imagine that! Placing men before God, upon Whom they depend for every breath of life and talent in singing!
We must always sing a new song to Jehovah, and praise Him for the wonderful salvation of which men sang. Our chief joy must not be because of what man did, but what our God does through His Son and Spirit.
That also means that when we sing a solo, or in a choir, we present CLEARLY and DISTINCTLY that which is sung, so that the truth which we sing can be heard and understood, and our audience can be moved to praise God and clap their hands before Him, not before the audience or singers.
In Psalter number 85 we find this wonderful truth:
“Ye righteous in the Lord rejoice;
Tis comely that with joyful voice
God’s saints His name should praise.
With harp and hymn of gladness sing
Your gift of sweetest music bring,
To Him a new song raise.”
Here in Psalm 33 the psalmist tells us to rejoice in the Lord, when men sing about His works. It is comely, that is, pleasing and beautiful to praise God, and to clap our hands BEFORE HIM, not before men and for what men did.
Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow.