How many times have we heard it? Sadly, how many times might we ourselves have actually thought or even voiced it? It’s the once monthly Sunday or Wednesday evening service that the leadership of our local congregation has decided is going to be a night of singing God’s praises together, and the attendance and interest is way down, because inevitably somebody is either going to be thinking or speaking of staying home from the assembly of the saints because, “After all, it’s only singing.” Really?
God’s people had painfully endured 400 years of bitter slavery at the hand of the merciless Egyptians who afflicted them without measure – even going so far as to order the brutal murder of their newborn male children (Exodus 1). God heard their cry and sent Moses to lead them to freedom. Ten plagues and countless Egyptian deaths later at both the hand of the Lord at midnight (Exodus 12:29-30) and at the hand of the Lord by Whose power the Egyptian armies lay dead at the bottom of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21-31), God’s stunned and suddenly surprised and redeemed children stood free and clear on the opposite shore… and as they did, what did they do? They sang about their incredible, incomparable, and unbelievable God and His divinely empowered deliverance! They sang to God and one another as they celebrated their sweetest of victories over a very formidable four-hundred year old foe! Go back and read that song they sang in Exodus 15:1-22. Dare any Israelite not join in praising God for that freedom, saying “Well, it’s only singing!?”
When the children of Israel were later “harshly oppressed” once again, this time by Jabin, king of Canaan and his army commander Sisera, and God gave His children resounding victory through Deborah and Barak, what did they do (See Judges 4 & 5)? Was that “only singing?”
First Chronicles chapter sixteen catalogues what occurred on that momentous occasion when King David finally managed to maneuver the precious and holy Ark of the Covenant – which signified the presence of God – into the tabernacle he had constructed for it in the holy city of Jerusalem. And lo and behold, what resonated and reverberated from the rafters and rooftops of Jerusalem’s residences that day? Music sweet music! Music to minister, commemorate, thank and praise the Lord God of Israel (vs. 4); the singing of Psalms to “talk of all His wondrous works” (vs. 9); singing “to the Lord” and to “proclaim the good news of His salvation” (Vs. 23)! As you read that chapter – and read it you must – ask yourself this question: “Does that sound like it wasn’t as worthwhile as sitting home and either falling asleep or watching the Jerusalem nightly news because after all, it was ‘only a song service?’”
King David, the man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) and the sweet Psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1), a man whose turbulent and tumultuous life was fraught and filled with life and death outward danger as well as inward turmoil, along with a few of his Psalm-authoring contemporaries, included the inspirational instruction to “sing” some 69 times in the Psalms alone! Why? Let’s let them tell us, with just a few “sacred selections” from their Psalms!
- And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord (27:6).
- Sing praise to the Lord, You saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name (30:4).
- My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise (57:7).
- But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy (59:16-17).
- Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious (66:2).
- Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation (95:1).
- Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day (96:1-2).
- Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name (100:1-4).
- I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being (104:33).
- Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful (147:1).
Does that sound like it wasn’t worth their time; like it was “only singing?” They sang because of their God-given victory and the unbelievable joy in their hearts because of it (27:6). They sang at the remembrance of His holy name and because their hearts were steadfast with Him (30:4; 57:7). They sang of His incredible power, infinite strength, and all-encompassing mercy; and how He was therefore their defense and refuge (59:16-17). They sang in honor of His name and made His name glorious, singing out loudly and joyfully to Him Who was the Rock of their salvation (66:2; 95:1). They sang to bless His name and proclaim the good news of the salvation He had provided (96:1-2). For His many blessings they even came into His presence with glad, joyful, and thankful singing of His praises (100:1-4). They sang constantly and never missed the opportunity to sing to Him (104:33). They sang because it brought goodness, peace, harmony and beauty into their lives when they did (147:1). And this is just a very few of the plenteous examples found in the Psalms… “Only just singing?” I think not!
Second Chronicles, chapter 20:1-30 contains the story of a simply phenomenal and almost unbelievable victory God’s overwhelmed children enjoyed from His hand. When He promised redemption through His prophet Jahaziel, the people responded with singing His praises. The next morning as the people went forth to see and experience God’s deliverance firsthand, Jehoshaphat “…appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.” Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another” (vss. 21-23).
In second Chronicles, chapter 29, it is recorded how good King Hezekiah repaired the Lord’s house that had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin, and then restored temple worship that had long been neglected by God’s people. Verses 29-30 report that, “And when they had finished offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed and worshiped. Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped.
“Only singing?” You’ve got to be kidding! Folks, there is power in the praising and proclaiming of the name of the Lord in reverent and heartfelt worship in song! Whether patriarchs, prophets, priests or kings, many of the Old Testament faithful – and subsequently victorious against all odds – knew the full-forged power of singing God’s praises! And even the great and godly prophet Isaiah would be quick to join their victorious chorus:
- Sing to the Lord, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth (12:5).
- And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away (35:10).
- Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted (49:13).
And what about the New Testament? What about Jesus’ last, incredible, and all-important pre-crucifixion evening on earth? Let us now turn our attention to the events of that evening. The Lord Jesus had just instructed and illustrated for His hand-picked apostles the true meaning of godly love in action; He had celebrated the Passover, named His betrayer, instituted the “Lord’s Supper,” and was now headed out to deal with the ordeal and agony of Gethsemane, Golgotha, and then finally to be delivered to the glory beyond. So what did He do in between? What was so vitally important to Him on that final, fatal evening, that on His way to His arrest and crucifixion for the sins of the entire world, He felt was so essential to make sure to take the time to do? I think it is of no small or arbitrary importance that Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 of the divinely inspired record record, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Why would He, the Lord and Savior and Son of the living God, under those circumstances make sure to stop and sing? And why would God see fit to ensure that this tiny tidbit was included in the divine record? Was that really “only just singing” and therefore worth missing? Apparently not to Jesus – or to God the Father. Nor did God the Father believe we ought to miss the fact that Jesus stopped to sing at that point either seeing as how He included it here. Why?
Although that text does not tell us why Jesus stopped and took the time to sing a Psalm, it tells us that He did. And this writer believes the answer as to exactly why is not all that difficult to figure out, especially in light of all we’ve discussed in this article so far: There is victory and power to endure even the worst of trials, in the reminder given us as we vocally express and faithfully extol God’s praises, singing them out both to Him and to one another while focusing fully on Him in song, period. (Remember the story of Paul and Silas punished and shackled and singing in prison in Acts 16:16-34?)
This is why Romans 15:1-14 (which see) connects such essential items for our assistance/assurance as edification, patience, comfort, hope, confirmation of God’s promises, glorifying God, and rejoicing and praising with our singing; concluding in verse 13 with: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God knows and needs for us to experience and unleash the awesome privilege and unlimited power of praising and sharing Him and His deliverance in faithful and joyful song at each and every opportunity! Just listen to His pleadings in these providentially power packed New Testament passages:
- See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:15-20).
- And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col 3:15-17).
- Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Heb 13:15).
- Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms (James 5:13).
The absolute and God-given privilege of getting together with the family of God to share the unmitigated and unrestricted power of singing His praises at any and every opportunity we’re ever given may be “only just singing” to some of us, but certainly not to those of us who have come to clearly understand the biblical truths re-covered in this article. And certainly not to those of us who realistically and faithfully look forward to eternity with God in heaven. What do you think the faithful will be doing up there? Singing His praises! See Revelation 5:6-14 and 14:3-13!
Will there be some of the saints who will say, “Well, I’d rather not go to heaven; after all, they’re only just going to be singing?” (As insane as that may sound to some, I once had a co-worker whom I invited to worship, who, once he and his family came, claimed he’d not come again because we “sang too much” !?!).
And what about Zephaniah’s words regarding the Messianic Kingdom’s blessing and reward regarding, not us singing God’s praises, but He, God, singing over His children?!? The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). Would anyone in their right mind consider such notice and expression by God to be “only just singing?”
It should be extremely and abundantly clear at this point, that there is no such thing as “only just singing” in the Scriptures when it comes to God’s children faithfully and fearfully seeking and praising Him together in song. Let us be sure that in our hearts, souls, minds, and attitudes and actions, that there is no such thing in existence either. And if there is, let us repent, and let us SING!