Isaiah 40:9 Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
May the Lord grant to us the medicine of melody and singing.
Filling up the edges
If we want to be a people with a heart after God – we should look to the man whose heart was after God is whole life. David was a warrior. But in Yahweh’s kingdom things are done differently than they are in the world. Before we see David as a soldier or general or king, we see him as a musician subduing evil spirits. Because, as we read in Ephesians 6:12 “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
How? With music. And in this he is like his Lord. Isaiah 30:29–32 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. And the LORD will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the LORD, when he strikes with his rod. And every stroke of the appointed staff that the LORD lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them.
Through Spiritual power chords, we are set free from evil spirits, we tear down strongholds, we ambush the enemy, and we delight our God. The weapons of our warfare must include Psalters, Hymnals and instruments. The enemy trembles when we sing and make melody. But are largely blind to the purpose of music and the power of music. We must come to understand and delight in this weapon if we are to reform the church and our country.
1 Samuel 16:23 And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the liar and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.
Puritan Increase Mather observed, “that music is of great efficacy against melancholy,” and “the sweetness and delightfulness of music has a natural power to overcome melancholy passions.” The secular world is increasingly aware of this common grace. A meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines the results of multiple scientific studies. The results of 35 studies from 1995 to October 1, 2012 were compiled into a meta-analysis of the medical efficacy of music. This comprehensive summary of SRs demonstrated that MT treatment improved the following: global and social functioning in schizophrenia and/or serious mental disorders, gait and related activities in Parkinson’s disease, depressive symptoms, and sleep quality. Those who practice music therapy are finding a benefit in using music to help cancer patients… hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, in speech therapy, to calm patients during and after operation, to ease muscle tension…” We are discovering that listening to music activates every portion of our brains, from emotion to memory to motor function.
Though David’s musical efforts were effective in providing relief for Saul, the writer understood that David’s success was due to the fact that the Spirit of the Lord was with him in power. David played Spirit-empowered chords, not just chords. The Power of music over the mind and emptions, as well as over the spiritual realm is why music and song were at the heart of temple worship.
1 Chronicles 15:15–16 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. 2 Chronicles 29:25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets.
The spiritual power of chords over the spiritual enemies of Israel, was also why every facet of Israel’s life and every stage of its history were marked by music. Music was present when people greeted each other and said farewell, Laban scolded Jacob in Genesis 31:27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? In Israel, when they married they played music. Jeremiah 7:34 And I will silence in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land shall become a waste.
Major events in the life of the people, such as the Exodus from Egypt, conquering the Canaanites, recapturing the ark, dedicating the temple crowning the king and returning from exile were celebrated in music and song. This role of music and song was continued in the early church both in everyday life and worship – because worship is warfare. It is believed that quite a few sections of the NT are in fact, hymns; Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20, and John 1:1-17 are only a few examples. Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Eph 5:15–21 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ
The joy expressed in music and thanksgiving and the benefits of mutual submission, then, are results of the filling of the Spirit—but also what we need to experience in our life together. The singing is a kind of conversation among believers. Verse 19 begins with the word “speaking,” which implies that the content of the songs is a communication “among yourselves.” Singing arises from the heart, implying both that it is sincere and that it is not merely superficially. It is to the Lord, which fortifies the truly spiritual nature of the song—in contrast to the unholy conversation and coarse joking in the Ephesians’ former state. Singers are no longer idolatrous grumblers, as in Romans 1, but are giving thanks to God the Father. The words always and for everything are comprehensive and indicate a way of life, not just the experience of a moment. This amplifies the meaning of being filled with the Spirit. Their thanksgiving is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, showing that they are now in the kingdom of Christ and of God and that Christ has shone upon them.
Calvin believed that Corporate singing subdued the fallen heart and restrained wayward affections in the way of piety. Like preaching and the sacraments, singing disciplines the heart’s affections in the school of faith, lifting the believer to God. It also amplifies the effect of the word on the heart, multiplying the church’s spiritual energy.
Calvin wrote, “The Psalms can stimulate us to raise our hearts to God and arouse us to an ardor in invoking as well as in exalting with praises the glory of His name.” St. Augustine, “When we sing these psalms…we are certain that God puts the words into our mouths as if he were singing in us to exalt his glory.” As Douglas Wilson wrote, “The psalter is a battle hymnal. If we are serious about conquering the world with the gospel through biblical worship, we will soon discover that it cannot be done without the psalms. What is a good thing to sing while swinging a battering ram at the gates of the enemy? There are many to choose from, why not psalm 68,” God shall arise and by his might, put all his enemies to flight.”
That is why, on the night Jesus was betrayed and instituted a new Covenant is his own blood is one of the few occasions when it records singing in Mark 14:26 – and they sang the Hallel Psalms – Psalms 113-118 – of Passover. Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. When the Lord hung dying on the cross, he quoted Psalms 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The whole Psalm is a plot point outline about the events of Calvary, written by David, but how could David have understood the depths of what he said? Jesus, in his final struggle against his enemies, has his hands raised singing and living out Psalm 22.
The church militant needs to restore music to its proper place in our armory, if we are to fight properly and build properly. The reformation of the church is always accompanied by the restoration of music.
2 Chronicles 23:18 And Jehoiada posted watchmen for the house of the LORD under the direction of the Levitical priests and the Levites whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the LORD, to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David. 2 Chronicles 29:30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped. 2 Chronicles 35:15 The singers, the sons of Asaph, were in their place according to the command of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers were at each gate. They did not need to depart from their service, for their brothers the Levites prepared for them. Ezra 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. Nehemiah 12:45–46 And they performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon. For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.
The principalities and powers of the air are running amuck. To subdue them, we need to restore music to its place. We see enemies all around. There are giants and dragons in the land. So as we take up the sword of the spirit, let us drive the evil spirits out of our hearts and minds, out of our homes and communities and the public square by singing and making a joyful noise. They fear it. We have forgotten it. Let us remember. Let us repent. Let us cry out to the great Physician for this medicine.
Around the Web
An Apple app for learning to sing:
The following list was compiled by Joel Eby:
KEY PSALMS TO LEARN FROM CANTUS:
Psalm 2 – Why do the Heathen Nations Vainly Rage (note – this is the one I add a quarter note to, which may throw some people off, but it’s better)
Bonus: Metal version
Psalm 22 – Be Not Far Off For Grief Is Near (Redeemer)
Psalm 22 – To All My Brothers I’ll Declare (Redeemer)
Psalm 40 – I Waited For the Lord (Redeemer)
Psalm 42 – As the Hart, About to Falter (Christ Church)
Psalm 47 – All Peoples, Clap Your Hands for Joy (Can’t locate yet; we don’t do it often)
Psalm 98 – O Sing A New Song to the Lord (Christ Church)
Psalm 128 – Blessed the Man that Fears Jehovah (Christ Church)
Psalm 148 – From Heaven O Praise the Lord (Can’t locate yet… we don’t do this one anymore, but other CREC’s know it well)
KEY NON-PSALMS FROM CANTUS:
The Son of God Goes Forth To War (Random guy – this is folky and kinda cool)
At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing
God Moves in a Mysterious Way (can’t find this one yet… will do it soon and you’ll have a recording)
Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above
KEY EASTER HYMNS FROM CANTUS:
Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended (Cantus) (Chris Thile and Sufjan Stevens)
Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted (Fernando Ortega)
A Song of Ascents.
 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
 The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.