By the addition of only one letter to the word “heave” we get the entirely different “heaven”. What a tremendous difference in meaning there is between those two words! And by adding the three short words, “unto the Lord,” to our theme of the last installment in this department we get an entirely different concept also.
To say, “I will sing”, is to give expression to an activity which is very common among men. To add the three words above and say, “I will sing unto the Lord,” does not merely express to whom it is that we are directing our song, it also limits very severely the contents and the manner of our singing.
If we are talented and gifted with a pleasing voice, it may safely be said that our singing is and has been chiefly unto men. If our training has been negligible, our talent a bare minimum and the tonal quality of our singing very distasteful to others, it is safe to say even then that our singing has been and is chiefly unto man. Whether we sing merely for the entertainment of men, or whether we sing merely for our own personal enjoyment, we have missed the point, we have missed the mark (which is literally the meaning of one of Scripture’s words for sin) and are as the man in the parable of the talents who went and hid his talent in the ground rather than to put it in use for his master.
Indeed, we may sing before men. If the Almighty has given you talents above other men, He has given them to you for these others. He has given them to you that you may lead them in the enjoyment of what wonderful things the Almighty has made for His own glory. And He has given them to you that thru and with you they may then praise God for all that which He has done both in the realm of the natural and in the realm of the spiritual.
Psalm 19 is beautiful in this respect. Even a rather superficial examination of the Psalm will show you that the psalmist speaks of God’s praises in both the realm of the natural and of the spiritual. Beginning with the glory of God displayed in the works of His hands, in the extent of creation as man from his position on the earth can see it, he then turns our attention to the spiritual in God’s word and law. There is no spot in this wide creation where the sun, moon and stars are not visible. Yea, therefore, the psalmist says, there is no spot where they do not speak of the praise of God. And upon this earth, where the law and word of God has been spoken by God Himself, His glory shines forth in the spiritual works of His hands. Therefore the psalmist being awed and humbled by the Spirit, cries out that the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart may be acceptable to that great God Who is his strength and redeemer.
Can you pray that before you sing? Singing, surely has to do with the words of your mouth. Singing must come forth as the expression of that murmuring, that meditation of your heart. And when you have finished your song, you are confident that both the words and the motive were acceptable to God? You rejoiced not in the praise of men but in that you praised God and led others in the contemplation of His wonderful praises?
I will sing unto the Lord! That is a lofty resolve! It is the only proper resolve! It is the resolve of a regenerated heart. The world sings purely for entertainment. And it sings of all the evil and filth that resides in its heart. It sings its atheism. It sings its rebellion against the living God. It sings its unbelief, its superstition, its godless philosophies, its adultery and immorality, the latter both by words and rhythm!
And a regenerated child of God can revel in it?? It becomes increasingly difficult to get away from it! With that miserable juke box in every restaurant, with every radio and television dealer demonstrating his wares it is well-nigh impossible to get away from the songs of the world. But you do not bring them home or let your children do so, do you? WHAT?? You let the unbeliever, the immoral world, the atheist, the antichristian elements of the human race befoul your home? Still more you let them spill their garbage and filth into your mind and soul? Go stand with the psalmist and pray that the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart may be acceptable to God! If it is a narrow minded view to take such a stand against the world and its songs of unbelief and godless levity, then let it be narrow-minded. It IS Scriptural. And let us not be broader minded than God! Remember that His judgment is narrow, and His judgment is final and determinative!
It is, perhaps, a little too obvious to be mentioned, but it certainly is true that much of that which passes today for singing by the world is only by the greatest stretch of imagination even to be classed as music. The coarser a woman’s voice is, the rougher and more boldly she may sing her suggestive songs, the higher her praise and honor among the ungodly. Indeed, we said a moment ago that one can hardly get away from such trash! You hear enough, even though you seek to avoid it, to turn your stomach. And the sad’, thing is that we all too soon become hardened even to it.
Hence these articles awaken us out of our sleep and drifting in the world and with the world. And if the psalmist said, as he did, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable, then certainly he means also by his prayer that his ears may be open only to that which is to the praise of God. For the meditation of his heart will surely be influenced by what he hears. Remember Eve! Her whole heart and life were put in reverse when she received thru her ears and into her heart that which was not praise to God but the lie upon which all this present unbelief, atheism, philosophy, evil thinking and corruption rests.
And how many of the songs of Zion do you and your children know? The songs of the world are ringing in your ears all day long. You hum and sing them at work. Perhaps you sing them along with the ungodly man at the bench next to you or at the next counter. But do you and your children ever sing the songs of Zion outside of divine services? Have you ever caught yourself humming or whistling the tune of a hymn only to check yourself when you realized that it would give you away as a believer? Shame on you! But if this never was your experience, can you and do you sing the songs of Zion at your work? Do you find such delight and joy in their truth, does your heart so murmur with these spiritual truths that you enjoy singing them even before the unbeliever?
Another thing, are you tired of singing the same spiritual songs over and over again? Are you, perhaps, clamoring for a manual of praise with more than versification of the Psalms? Is it, perhaps, so with you that you desire some new tunes? Room for that there surely is not only because tunes themselves become tiring after repeated use but also because tunes are not always appropriate for the sentiment expressed in words of the song. But let us be on our guard, lest it be the words which tire us. Let us be sure that the truth which is expressed in the song does not become so wearisome to us that it is for that reason that we clamor for a change. It is impossible that a child of God who desires to sing to the Lord would become weary of the truth expressed in the Psalms. And if we are always avoiding the Psalms to sing hymns, which are not the versification of the Scriptures but the versifications of man’s opinions of the word of God and of his spiritual (?) experiences, we may well ask ourselves whether our singing is to the Lord or to men.
Many of our modern hymns are chosen and sung exactly for their tune, harmony and rhythm and for NO other reason. Take such an unspiritual Negro spiritual as “On the Jericho Road.” Who will deny that it has a lilting rhythm and “catchy” tune? But where is there anything spiritual in it? Where does Scripture attach any spiritual significance to the Jericho road? What praise to God does the whole song utter? The same may be said of, “Roll, Jordan, Roll!” And what Arminianism is there not expressed in such a hymn (shall we call it a hymn?) as “There’s a New Name Written Down in Glory.” The Scriptures declare that our names were written down in the Lamb’s book of life from before the foundation of the world. The Scriptures teach sovereign and eternal ELECTION and firmly deny that in time new names are written down. And yet many Reformed circles, which profess to believe in the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions, enjoy such a song that militates against the Word of God. You cannot sing that song unto the Lord! You can sing it unto man, and man will love it because it ascribes something to him that rightfully belongs only to God. And then you also have such superficial, sacrilegious expressions in what passes today for hymns as the statement that we will “shake Jesus’ hand” and say, “Hello” to Him, or that in heaven we want to “See my Savior first.” What will we want to see afterward? . . . We could continue and continue, but put yourself before the question, do I sing unto the Lord or unto men?