1 You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LordGodis my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
The day of salvation that Isaiah speaks about is today. 2 Corinthians 6:2states that, because Christ has died and risen for you, now is the day of salvation. God was angry with you because of your sin, but His anger has turned away. Jesus lives, and God has given you His comfort. Christ reigns in heaven, and God is now your salvation. Jesus has delivered you. God is your strength and your song. Whether or not you realize it, you are here today to draw from the wells of salvation which will never run dry.
So, “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” The Scripture readings today have called you – in fact, they have commanded you – to sing to God five times (Ps. 98:1, 4, Is. 12:5, 6).
Many places in Scripture, you are commanded to “sing a new song.” There are some Christians (and they may have good intentions) some Christians who say that we should be singing songs that appeal to people’s current taste in music. In other words, we should always be writing songs that will make people tap their toes or something. Other denominations go so far as to say this command to ‘sing a new song’ means that we should only sing songs that have been around for so long – say fifty or one-hundred years. And once a song reaches that age, it should be retired, put out to pasture, and not sung anymore. But that is not what it means to ‘sing a new song.’
When Scripture tells us to sing a new song, it always goes on to tell us, not about the musical style of the song, but about the content of the song, and the content of the song is always God’s deliverance. We sing of how God has delivered and rescued us from our sin and the devil. In other words, we sing of Christ who has saved us.
God’s salvation is always new. An ancient Greek philosopher (Heraclitus) said, “You never step in the same river twice,” because it isn’t the same river and you aren’t the same person. In a similar way, the best Christian songs, no matter how old they are, are always new. It doesn’t matter how long the song has been around because the salvation Jesus has won for you means something different to you now than it did yesterday. Yes, you have sinned again, but God’s steadfast love never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.
Songs that you have memorized and have been singing your whole life can bring new comfort in a different way than they had before. None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be writing new songs. No, no, no. Christians should be the best artists – especially when it comes to music. Until Christ returns, the church should always be writing songs that speak clearly of God’s deliverance and salvation while we continue singing the faithful songs of our ancestors in the faith.
Now, why does God command us to sing; isn’t speaking good enough? Apparently, no. There is a great passage in everyone’s favorite Old Testament book, Zephaniah 3:17. Listen to this, “The Lordyour God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” It is an absolutely beautiful picture. But the reason I bring this up is that this is the one place in all the Scriptures where God sings, and the reason He sings is His joy over you.
When God expresses His joy over you who have been redeemed by His beloved Son, He does it with singing because nothing else will do. Music and song is the only thing capable of expressing the joy that God has because of you. God sings in joy over you, so you sing for joy to Him. And this is why we spend time in our services singing. We don’t do it to make our service more interesting. Rather, we sing because singing is, in fact, a form of spiritual warfare against God’s enemies and your enemies. Let me give you two quick examples:
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat ruled in Judah. His kingdom was threatened by the armies of the Moabites and Ammonites. Jehoshaphat doesn’t know what to do, so he calls all the people of Judah to come to the Temple to pray. While they are praying, a prophet comes in and says that the people don’t need to be afraid of the hoard coming against them. That prophet says that the army won’t even need to fight because the Lordwill fight for them. When the people hear this, they all bow down with their faces to the ground. But then, suddenly, two clans of the priests, the Kohathites and the Korahites, stand up and begin to sing loudly. Those two classes of priests had been appointed by King David years earlier to be the singers in the Temple. Basically, they had been appointed to be the church choir.
The next morning, the battle lines are formed. And Jehoshaphat appoints the front line to be – guess who – the Kohathites and the Korahites, the choir. The Lordwould fight for them, so why not have the singers be the first into battle? The army marches out behind the choir and listen to this, it’s from 2 Chron. 20:22, “And when they began to sing and praise, the Lordset an ambush against the men of Ammon [and] Moab… who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.” Through their singing, God defeated the enemies of His people.
And don’t think this is an isolated event. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are beaten with rods, arrested, and thrown into prison for preaching about Jesus. While they are there in the dank, stinky dungeon, guess what they do. They prayed to God, but then they began, you guessed it, they began to sing hymns (Act. 20:25). They weren’t worried about the other prisoners hearing them sing. They sing, and God acts. God sends an earthquake, the prison doors are all opened, and all the shackles of all the prisoners fall off.
We could also talk about how David used to play his harp to drive away the demons that tormented King Saul (1 Sam 16:23). Or how Jesus and the disciples, in that dark hour before Jesus was arrested, sang a hymn before they departed the upper room (Mt. 26:30).
The devil hates music and flees when God’s people sing. So, the devil tris to get us to not sing. If Satan tries to get you embarrassed of your voice or your ability to sing, get over it. God doesn’t care how good of a singer you are. He’s not looking for Grammy winners or finalists from American Idol or The Voice. He wants you and commands you to sing.
So, sing. Sing when you are happy. Sing when you are depressed. Sing when you are apathetic. Sing of Jesus. Sing of His victory. Sing of His deliverance. Sing of His forgiveness. Sing how His right hand and holy arm have rescued you. Sing because the battle is the Lord’s. He has won the victory over Satan, sin, and death. Sing and watch the devils flee.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds inChrist Jesus. Amen.