Singing: The Response of the Redeemed
If I’m awake, I have a song in my head. Sometimes it stays in there and other times it comes out. There have been a few times when I’m singing and I don't even know it. Just ask my wife! Singing and music in general have always been a part of my life because of my father. His love for singing and music had an influence on me even at a young age. His passion for worship music became my passion as I got older and I’m extremely thankful for that.
But, maybe you would say singing isn’t your forte. Maybe you would even say singing during a worship service makes you feel uncomfortable. For the men out there, maybe you think congregational singing isn’t very masculine. Or you may simply be indifferent towards singing on Sunday morning. Whatever your idea of worship through singing might be, know this: responding to God through singing for who He is and what He has done is not reserved only for the talented; it’s granted to the redeemed. If you have been set free from the bondage of sin through the gospel, then singing in worship to God should abound!
“I can’t sing!” I’ve heard this countless times. If you’ve caught yourself saying or thinking this, you probably mean, compared to your favorite singer or the woman who sings harmony behind you at church, your voice doesn’t quite match up. If you can physically speak, you can sing. Not only can you sing, but God created you to sing! Of course, some sing better than others. However, if we perceive singing aloud on Sunday morning as reserved only for the “gifted,” then we misunderstand the purpose of worship through singing. God is more interested in the posture of your heart than He is with your ability to match a certain pitch.
Now, we say often at Restoration Church that there are many ways that we respond to God in worship. We respond to God in worship through the reading of His Word. We worship God by aligning ourselves with Him in prayer. We can even worship God by keeping children in the nursery. There’s a host of ways we can worship on Sunday morning.We don’t want to limit worship to only singing. However, I want to point you to 3 reasons why I believe we should be compelled to sing as the redeemed body of Christ.
1. We should sing because God Himself sings.
The more I think about this, the more it gives me chills! The Master of the universe, the only holy God, Yahweh sings! How incredible is that? I often wonder what His singing must sound like. It must be the most powerful and beautiful sound we will ever hear. Not only does He sing, but He sings over those he redeems! Zephaniah 3:17 says, “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.” All throughout the Old Testament, Israel consistently disobeyed the Lord. Because they rejected the Lord, judgment was headed for them by way of enemy nations (Zephaniah 1-2). How can the holy God exult over a disobedient and obstinate people with singing? God made a covenant with them—one that would not be broken. God, in His infinite mercy, chose to rescue the Israelites from their enemies. Not only did He turn away His wrath, but He was in the midst of them easing their every fear. This is a foreshadow of what God would do and did do for us through Jesus on the cross. Because we rejected God in our sin, we were the objects of His wrath. Judgement was coming for us. But God mercifully and graciously provided salvation through Jesus so that we could be restored! There was once wrath stored towards us. Now, God sings melodies of grace over us. He sees us. He’s with us. And He sings over us. Gifted singer or not, this should motivate you to sing with every once of your being!
2. We should sing because our soul needs it.
We are a forgetful people. As we walk through life, there are hardships, temptations, and trials that shift our attentions and affections away from this gospel. God knew this to be true of Israel as well. In Deuteronomy 31, God commanded Moses to write a song to teach the people that would remind them of His goodness and faithfulness. “They will turn to other gods and serve them and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring).” Singing the truth of God’s Word helps us remember the character of God and the goodness of the gospel when confronted with sin. Not only does our soul need to sing when confronted with sin, but also when we’re in the depths of suffering. Jesus promised us that we will face trouble (John 16:33). Therefore, where there was once indescribable joy, sorrow seeps in. Where there was calming peace, anxiety will abound. These are the times when singing the truth of God’s Word feels impossible or even pointless. However, when our vocal cords are constricted by suffocating circumstances, we must sing. King David went through plenty of hardship. In Psalm 42, David is driven to such distress that he writes, “My tears have been my food day and night.” It is in this same passage that he writes and sings, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” He continues by saying, “My soul is cast down within me, therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon and from Mount Mizar.” When our souls are panting for satisfaction, our hearts reeling with pain, or we are simply indifferent, we must remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. Reading the Word and communing with God in prayer are disciplines that remind us of the character of God. I believe singing is a discipline that does the same. Gospel truth coupled with a melody leaves a lasting imprint on our hearts. May we not only think of singing as what we do to proclaim how we feel about God. May we also sing loudly about who God is and what he has done for us in Christ. It is the latter that guides us when our feelings are fickle.
3. We should sing because our neighbor needs it.
If I’m honest, there are some Sundays when it is hard to sing. There have been some Sundays when I come without reminding myself who I am in Christ. I allow my feelings to lead me instead of the truth of the gospel. There are some Sundays when I have come out of mere obligation instead of a deep joy and holy anticipation to encounter the greatness of God. I know I’m not alone. We all struggle at times to aim our worship towards Jesus because our worship is entangled in countless other gods. It is in these times when we need to hear each other sing. One of my favorite times during our Sunday morning gathering is being able to back away from the mic, stop playing my guitar and hear the church sing! Ephesians 5:19 says we should “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.” We sing not only to praise God but to encourage each other. Our singing should point each other to Christ. We need to hear each other sing.
- Stephen Krumalis