Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daily Devotional Thought--From the Psalms

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,


Last Tuesday, Psalm 137:1-7 gave me pause, and today as I read about J.S. Bach, and also what Luther has to say about the gift of music, I was immediately drawn back to the psalmist’s cry:

ESV Psalm 137:1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" 4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! 7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, "Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!"

Imagine the setting:  Being taken out of your homeland and into exile, and then to have your captors taunt you: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”  That is to say, “Where is your God now?  Your songs aren’t so cheery now, are they!”

As the Israelites were being taken into exile, they were made to sing forth their songs of praise.  And while their singing very well fell on deaf ears, nevertheless, it was the truth of their songs that needed to be confessed—a truth that at the time remained hidden but true nonetheless—they would look forward to that promised heavenly Jerusalem.  And so they would sing, and sing boldly.

Indeed, we love the hymns of the church, not only because we grew up with them, but primarily because of their clear confession of Christ.  And while there are many today who fail to appreciate the hymnody of the Church, we will continue to sing, and sing boldly.  For in our hymns Christ is confessed.

Luther wrote the following about the wonderful gift of music: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.”  He understood music’s ability to help deliver the Gospel: “Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener’s soul…after all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming (the Word of God) through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.”

As the people of God continue to find themselves as exiles in a dark and lost world, may we continually shout forth the songs of the church, clearly confessing the Christ, and the gifts He gives—both now and to come!

Peace in Christ, and happy singing!

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