Why Do We Sing?
My wife and I have one recurring debate that resurfaces every couple of months in our home. She’s a gal that loves nothing more than to have real, face to face conversation without distraction. It’s how she thinks best, when there’s a quiet space and nothing to pull her mind off the current moment. I, on the other hand, squirm at the thought of a quiet home. I just can’t seem to focus without something happening in the background. That something tends to be music. As you can imagine, the debate always starts with either, “do you mind if we put some music on,” or “will you please turn that off so I can focus.” Regardless of our little debacles (which usually end in a nice compromise of very quiet music), it got me thinking about music in a corporate church setting. In particular, why do we emphasize corporate song in our congregational services, more than quiet introspection and prayer. Isn’t the latter more focused? Aren’t we more prone to distraction by the beat of the music, and the beauty of the combined sound of the instruments, than if we were to communicate with God in prayer as a congregation?
I don’t think there’s one person that would argue that corporate worship through song is unbiblical. It’s well known that God’s people, the Israelites, frequently sang songs to God, expressing their most heartfelt joys, and their deepest sorrows. For instance, when God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, the first thing they did was turn to God, singing “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously… the Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” But what motivates them to do that? Why does this song emanate from them so suddenly?
It’s because God created us to sing. In the very beginning, after the creation of Eve, Adam sings for her (check it out in Genesis 2:23 if you don’t believe me)! It’s one of the very first things that Adam does. Fast forward to the new testament, and we see Jesus singing with his disciples (Matthew 26:30). Go all the way to the end of the Bible, and what do we find? The Bride of Heaven singing to the Groom (Revelation 5:9). Bob Kauflin, a very influential worship leader at Sovereign Grace Church puts it this way: “God has taken the most precise way of communicating truth, which is words, and combined it with the vaguest way of communicating truth, which is music – and he’s put them together to make singing. The purpose is that what we know with our minds gets connected in our hearts.” God designed singing “to help us feel the truth. More specifically, its meant to help us feel the gospel.” I’m convinced that this is the reason that we sing. God created song, and gave us all the ability to sing, so that we would have a way to express the deepest emotions of our hearts to Him, all so that He would receive glory, and we would be full with joy.
Let me just end by saying that, yes, we were created to sing, which means that we should embrace beautiful melodies and harmonies, and that we should get excited about instrumentation, and that we should let our hearts feel the truths that we know. We should never neglect quiet moments with the Lord, and as Toby talked about last weekend, we should seek those opportunities out. But I pray that you would get passionate about the opportunity to express the truth of the scriptures in song with your brothers and sisters in Christ every weekend.
Ephesians 5:18-20 “… be filled with the spirit , addressing one another with 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…”
In His Mercy,