Friday, August 15, 2014

The Power of a Song, part 2

continued from here...

Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs can be a great blessing, but have you ever heard of using singing to win a battle?

Back during the reign of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah approximately 900 years before the birth of Christ, that exact thing happened. And here is the story as we find in 2nd Chronicles chapter 20. The nations of Ammon and Moab along with the people of Mt. Seir decided to invade Judah. When Jehoshaphat learned of the impending attack, we read his reaction in verse 3.

And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.


That was the right reaction. The Bible goes on to tell us this in verses 4-9:

And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

The people went on to ask this in verse 12:

O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

This seems to be one of the few times that we find the children of Israel trusting in Jehovah to protect them from enemies, as they ought, rather than seeking help from other nations. And of course they were rewarded for putting their faith in God to deliver them..

We find this in verses 20-24:

And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.


Did you catch what they were singing? "Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever." I can’t help but wonder if they were not singing Psalm 136 which ends every one of its 26 verses with that same phrase: for his mercy endureth for ever.

So, what should we take away from this little bit of history?   ...Keep a song in your heart and everything will be all right? ... Singing can deliver us from our enemies?

I believe the real lesson to be learned here is found back in verse 12. The people said to God "we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee."

That should be how we approach Jehovah when we consider our greatest enemy; and our greatest enemy is our own sinful nature. Each one of us has been racking up a mountain of sin debt since we were little children. We have no might against this sinfulness, any more than Israel had any might against those invading armies. Israel did not know what to do and neither do we know what we can do to pay this sin debt and make things right between us and a holy God.   But like the Israelites, our eyes need to be on the Lord. He is the only one who can deliver us from this formidable enemy; this great mountain of sin. Just as Jehoshaphat and his people went forth to battle singing Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever, we too should put our trust in the great mercy God has shown us in sending his own Son to suffer and die on the cross in payment of our sins.


 

 

1 comment:

david ervin said...

The goal should not be to live a sinless life...an impossibility in our fallen world...but to live, as did the Israelites of your quoted verses: in the arms of our Creator. What Man should desire most is the unbiting of the forbidden fruit.

The circumstances of Adam & Eve had not changed with that fateful step, only their perceptions were different and they were ashamed of the sin they newly saw (their nakedness). Before, they could not perceive that sin and even Paul says that without the law he would not know sin and that the law worked to entice him to sin.

After the fall the world was changed. Previously harmless plants grew thorns and where Man had walked unscathed was now fraught with dangers to Man. Hardships and stumbling blocks were everywhere. We cannot walk a sinless life in this world even as we would desire to; and to walk a sinless life outside the embrace of God is folly. We should instead wish to unbite the fruit that cleaved us from our God.

And I don't wish to make an excuse for a sinful life, far from it. As we draw nearer to our God in repentance we find less use for sin and the concept of sin is repulsive. Unrepentant Man revels in his sin and the ceremonies, songs and sacrifices of those men are repellent to our God Who wishes us to unbite the fruit with repentance.

But to unbite the fruit is to reject the rebellion implicit in the act of taking the fruit and that's at the heart of Christ's message. He didn't implore us to a sinless life to find Him but to return to Him and then seek a sinless life through Him. And the best way to approach Him is with a song in our hearts and a song of commitment on our lips.