“When you feel down and out, sing a song (it’ll make your day). Here’s a time to shout, sing a song (it’ll make a way). Sometimes it’s hard to care, sing a song (it’ll make your day). A smile so hard to bear, sing a song (it’ll make a way) . . . .” Those are the words in the first verse of “Sing A Song” by Earth, Wind and Fire (YouTube Video below).
There’s just something about happy music that puts a smile on my face, a spring in my step, and makes the worst of days so much better, and I bet it does the same for you, too, providing you like music–well, happy music. And who doesn’t? Music is the universal language of the world, and while it can bring us happy feelings, it can also instill sadness and fear (source here). However, one of it’s greatest attributes is that it can bring us great comfort in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances.
Three thousand years ago King David was known for his song writing abilities, and we have the words to many of His songs (psalms) in the Book of Psalms (over half of the psalms are attributed to him), as well as other writers known and unknown. Music and praise took him from the deepest pits of despair to the very throne of God in the midst of very trying and sometimes terrifying circumstances that didn’t immediately change, either. But he knew that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah” (Selah means “pause and think about that”). Those words are from Psalm 46:1-3 composed by the Sons of Korah, yet they were also etched on the heart of David.
I must confess that one of the constants in my life during this very long ordeal with unemployment has been the power of music to lift me out of the doldrums and despair when the full force of almost four years of searching for that job that never seems to materialize gets the better of me. And, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, especially those with YouTube videos attached at the end of the post, you’ll know that my love of music extents way beyond Christian music to include the music from the era I grew up in (60’s & 70’s) and other contemporary secular music, too.
Christian music has a specific role, for the most part, of leading us to the worship of God and Jesus Christ, yet I have found many times in secular music there are profound truths in the words that the artists have composed regarding not only the nature of God (indirectly, of course) but a yearning for something more but written within the realm of human understanding as most of those composers do not acknowledge Christianity as a guiding force in their lives. Yet, as King Solomon (David’s son by Bathsheba and also considered to be the wisest man who ever lived) stated, “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Eternity is set in the heart of every human being who has ever walked this earth right up to today whether or not we (or those who have gone before us) choose to acknowledge God (some do, many do not).
There is a great divide in the Church today regarding the secular and the sacred, especially when it comes to music. To get you thinking about this divide, you can read an article published in Relevant Magazine titled, “When the Secular is Sacred.” While everything in this world can be used for either good or for evil and that includes music, when we listen to music that inspires us or makes us think about choices we have made or can make in a positive manner, or that inspires hope, the separation between secular and sacred diminishes somewhat. Yes, there is specific music (sacred music) that is specific to a church or Christian setting, particularly during worship times in church or religious settings, yet “out in the world” where we live and breathe for the rest of our week there is a whole variety of music that inspires us, too. After all, as Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, God has set eternity in the hearts of each and every one of us whether we acknowledge it (and Him) or not.
God gives His gifts to everyone, not just those who choose to believe in Him. And He doesn’t take that gift away from people just because they don’t use it to glorify Him in the way that many Christians think about music. The incredible variety of music we have in our world today is a testament to that very fact. The vast creativity of God is found, for example, in the wide variety of music in the many cultures that circle our globe, and that great variety is absolutely breath-taking. Music is, indeed, a universal language.
God cannot be pigeon-holed. We cannot put God in a box (see article here). And I’m not referring to plurialism, either. After all, Jesus Christ clearly states, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through me” (John 14:6). However, many Christians today do put God in a box of their own making, and anything that doesn’t fit in that box is suspect. Music is a great example of that. Yet God is sovereign over everything that happens on this earth and in the universe. His creative abilities are not limited in any way by our own prejudices. He is God! He does as He wishes and uses folks all the time to accomplish His will, even when they don’t recognize it or Him.
Having said all of that, there is still an element of music that is very specific to the worship of God, and that music lifts us to the very throne of God in the midst of all kinds of trials we face here in earth. The devotion for today in Our Daily Bread expresses this idea clearly:
A Song To Remember
I was delighted when I received a free gift in the mail—a CD of Scripture set to music. After listening to it several times, some of the melodies took root in my mind. Before long, I could sing the words to a couple of verses in the book of Psalms without the help of the recording.
Music can help us recall words and ideas we might otherwise forget. God knew that the Israelites would forget Him when they entered the Promised Land (Deut. 31:20). They would forsake Him, turn to idols, and trouble would follow (vv.16-18). Because of this, He asked Moses to compose a song and teach it to the Israelites so they could remember their past closeness with Him and the sin that hurt their relationship (31:19-22). Perhaps most important, God wanted His nation to recall His character: “[God] is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (32:4).
Consider what God might want you to remember about Him today. Is it His power, His holiness, His love, or His faithfulness? Can you think of a song that celebrates God’s character? Sing it in your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19). ~Jennifer Benson Schuldt
Give me a spirit of praise, dear Lord,
That I may adore Your name,
Sing praises from the depths of a grateful heart
To the One who is always the same. ~Dawe
Remembering God’s goodness puts a song in your heart.
I started out this post with the words to the first verse in “Sing A Song” by Earth, Wind and Fire, and I’ll end it with the last verse: “Bring your heart to believing, sing a song (it’ll make your day). Life ain’t about retrieving, sing a song (it’ll make a way). Give yourself what you need, sing a song (it’ll make your day). Smile, smile, smile and believe, sing a song (it’ll make a way).”
What (or rather Who) we need is Jesus Christ. So “smile, smile, smile and believe, sing a song (it’ll make a way)”–the only Way there is through Jesus Christ.
And that’s a song that will take you right on through this life to eternity!
YouTube Video: “Sing A Song” (1975) by Earth, Wind, and Fire: