by Niki Turner
While we might be convinced God prefers hymns over contemporary praise, or instruments vs. a cappella worship, the truth is we need music the most when the worship band isn't around, the hymnal is still in the back of the pew at church, the CD player stops working, and the batteries in the MP3 player are dead.
Music is appropriate (and necessary) when you're caught between a rock and a hard place, when all the lights have gone out and it just keeps getting darker, when the pressure is so great you think you're going to be squashed like a rotten blueberry. That's when you need to tune your ears to hear the songs of the Spirit.
“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7 NIV
God is the originator of surround sound! Wireless, even! We just need to turn it on and tune in. What kind of songs does he surround us with? Songs that deliver. The word for deliverance is also translated “escape,” or “to cause to escape.”
The enemy of our souls would like to convince us that sitting around singing songs in the midst of a crisis is foolish and irresponsible. Shouldn't we be doing something? Calling a prayer chain, organizing a rally, or circulating a petition? The frantic need to take action when we're under attack is the same instinct that drives trapped animals to chew off their own legs. And often, our knee-jerk actions leave us crippled.
I'm sure the residents of Judah wanted to do something when they heard the news a huge army was on its way to destroy them, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 20.
Fortunately, Judah's King Jehoshaphat was a God-fearing man. He proclaimed a fast throughout Judah and called upon God for help, for a way of escape from the destruction marching their way.
What do you suppose God told them to do?
Raise an army, institute a draft, send in the Marines?
Construct new and more lethal weapons?
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" 2 Chron 20:14-17 NIV
So the next day Jehoshaphat steps out in faith, believing God will do as He said (that's what faith is, after all). He doesn't prep the troops for battle, he organizes a marching band.
Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and called them to attention. "Listen to me, O people of Judah and Jerusalem," he said. "Believe in the Lord your God and you shall have success! Believe his prophets and everything will be all right!" After consultation with the leaders of the people, he determined that there should be a choir leading the march, clothed in sanctified garments and singing the song "His Loving-kindness Is Forever" as they walked along praising and thanking the Lord! And at the moment they began to sing and to praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to begin fighting among themselves, and they destroyed each other! 2 Chron 20:20-22 TLB
Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Put the praise and worship team out in front of the army? But their act of faith to sing and praise when everything in the natural said fight or flee brought about a supernatural deliverance for them.
“Okay,” you're thinking, “But that's Old Testament.”
Try this one.
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. Acts 16:25-26 NKJV
Somehow singing seems like the last thing I would feel like doing after I'd been beaten severely and thrown in prison. Crying, whining, pouting, yeah, probably. Singing songs? Probably not. But Paul and Silas were listening to those songs on the inside, songs inspired by the Spirit of God within them, and when they lifted up their voices and sang those songs, God moved. And He didn't just deliver Paul and Silas, all the prison doors were opened, and everyone's chains were loosed. Their songs of deliverance in the night were powerful enough to set the people around them free, too! They literally sang their way out of jail! Don't you want to know what songs they sang?
The next time your back is against the wall, and you're tempted to grumble or complain, or you feel so discouraged you can't even turn your frown upside down, tune in to PSLM-327 and sing along with the Spirit. He might surprise you with His broad repertoire of songs. That chorus that keeps running through your head might just be your song of deliverance! In my own life, God has used everything from old hymns I didn't even know I knew to Hillsong ballads, Veggie Tales lyrics, and Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" to minister to my spirit and bring me through dark places into victory.
Have specific songs ever created a way of escape for you? Tell us about it!
I usually have a sort of movie soundtrack playing in my head. And I've occasionally started singing worship songs at the store, sadly without realizing it until I noticed the funny looks on people's faces.ReplyDelete
I love your analogy of sitting still in the storm and just singing. Makes me think of the orchestra that continued to play while the Titanic sank. They showed such courage despite the fact that they weren't going to get one of the seats on the lifeboats. With the last of their lives they helped others. And they are remembered for their gallantry.
What a clever and oh-so-true story of the power of song in our lives. I love how the holy spirit brings a song to us. I sometimes thing a song is always playing in my head. Sometimes it's a silly nothing ("Why is this stupid song in my head?") but often it is edifying, building up, bringing peace and I know it's a gift to me right at that moment.ReplyDelete
Thank God for all the ways we can enjoy music today for almost round-the-clock reinforcement!
Thanks Niki! have a great week everyone!
I attend an East Indian (Indo-Canadian) Bible study group -- I'm brown on the inside, they tell me! At that group, we sing in English and then sing hymns in Hindi and other E. Indian languages. I sing along as they've written the words out phonetically for people like me but I usually have no idea what I'm singing.ReplyDelete
A number of years ago, when I was going through a difficult time, it was a couple of those Hindi hymns that started going through my mind. I didn't know the interpretation but sang those songs in my head over and over. When I shared that with the group a few weeks later, they told me those songs were all about joy. They're still my favourite Hindi hymns and I even had one sung by the group for me at my wedding reception!
Lisa & Deb - It's interesting how almost everyone is aware of a sort of soundtrack in their brains. It's like we are preprogrammed with tunes!ReplyDelete
Elaine - Your experience with the Hindi hymns is exactly what I was trying to explain in this post. Thank you so much for sharing!
Love this, Niki! I agree that music is so important in our relationship with God. In fact, I often take my spiritual "temperature" by what songs are running through my head when I wake up in the morning. And several songs, when I hear them, remind me of difficult times in my life, times when I listened to and sang particular songs until the Lord changed me or my circumstances. Every time I hear or sing them now, there are a monument and a reminder of the deliverance of the Lord!ReplyDelete
This is so true, Niki. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyDelete
I have a song about healing that I like to sing over the kids when they're sick.
Great post, Niki. Coming fresh off of VBS, I have all the songs from our High Seas Adventure in my head, and it's amazing how powerfully those songs of praise can influence my mood for the better! (I confess now that you mentioned it, I have Hit Me With Your Best Shot in my head, LOL.)ReplyDelete
I loved the reminder. Thanks for the post!
D'Ann - I've noticed when I go through difficulties the Lord will bring to my remembrance songs that brought me through earlier situations, even when I haven't heard them in years and years. He's SO GOOD that way!ReplyDelete
Dina - We had a CD of healing songs that our kids would ask for again and again. They went to sleep to those songs for years, and I credit the power in those God-inspired lyrics to the health they have today!
Susie - Whoever the folks are that write VBS program music are gifted that way, aren't they? I wish all our Christian music was so faith-inspiring!
Is it ok if I share my experience?
A very wise woman once told me that if I feel under attack from the enemy, I should crank up the praise music. On a normal day I don't listen (or didn't used to listen) to praise music very often. But there was a season in my marriage - the enemy tried to take our marriage - I cranked up the praise music 24/7 - I slept with my head phones on. Music played a major part in our victory during that time.
Amongst other things, God gave us music so we can saturate our lives with Him.