Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rides upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4
Sometimes, I just don’t automatically feel like singing, or praising, or rejoicing. If I am going to be honest about it, that’s the honest truth, Lord. Sometimes, I feel like just going somewhere by myself and crying out to You. And sometimes I just feel like going to sleep because then You let my mind be quiet for a while. I suppose, sometimes I just get tired and heavy laden and I just want rest. But I don’t just want rest; I want rest in You.
But I’m learning that if I only get alone and cry, or run away and sleep, that the “perfect” rest will evade me. Because both of those choices alone run me into the danger of meditating on the wrong thing even though I’m running to You. I’m in the danger of zone of pity. And I may just wind up having a pity party for myself and making You listen. And that is so far from Your desire.
I ought to run to You and cry out. I ought to seek my rest in You. But I also absolutely must not forsake or forget that both of those need to be balanced out with singing unto You, praising You, and rejoicing before You. Because if I run to You with my tears and run to You for rest, where am I showing the hope of Your intervention. What if I wept all day? Who would see hope? What if I felt like sleeping the whole day away to avoid the hard stuff? Who would see hope? But what if I obeyed, and burst forth in the midst of the hard stuff, in the midst of a heart full of hurt and pain and sorrow, in the midst of life and feeling worn down, and I sang, and praised, and rejoiced? What then?
In the midst of it all, I am to sing unto God. I know we’ve talked about this before, the importance of singing. But I need us to talk about it again. Because the truth and how I handle it is more important than my feelings. If this word, “shiyr”, is so important to my spiritual well-being, then I better not only understand it, but I better obey and embrace it. In the Hebrew, singing was connected with worship. “The pictograph tells us that the word is about deeds or work that consumes the person. In other words, singing ‘eats’ you up. It takes away what you were feeling and moves you to another experience. It is the divine transporter. This is why the Hebrew world considers singing to be praying.” (Skip Moen) Yes, sometimes I need to be divinely transported from the feelings of my own heart or mind and transported back to You. That’s what singing does.
So, I could just cry, or I could run away in sleep, or I can choose to sing. I wonder which exhibits greater faith, greater trust, greater love? “There are three ways in which a man expresses deep sorrow: the man on the lowest level cries; the man on the second level is silent; the man on the highest level knows how to turn his sorrow into song.”(Siah Safre Kodesh) It’s not that I won’t cry, it’s not that I won’t be silent, because there is a time for every season, a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to speak and a time to be silent. But the test comes when I can choose to see You above myself. Anyone can cry and anyone can run silently, but only someone who can really “see” You can praise You by singing in the midst of it all.
What if, after Paul and Silas had been beaten wrongly and thrown in prison, they had just decided to cry and sleep it off until the new day came? Would the prisoners and jailors have seen You, God, show up? But instead, they chose to look at You and when we look at You, how can we help but sing Your praises? So instead of wallowing in self-pity or bitterness or what-if’s, they chose to pray and sing. They celebrated You in song. And the prisoners heard. And You heard. And that made a difference. It made a difference in their life. It made a difference in the lives of the prisoners. And it made a difference in the life of the jailor and his family. Because You are the Difference. And singing is acknowledging You in my life. Singing lights up the world around me. Singing Your song lights up not only me, but the world around me.
I want to look back at those three levels of sorrow again. The man on the lowest level cries. He hurts. He calls out. I think of David and Elijah. Both men of God fled. They cried out to You. They also went to that silent place, hiding in the cave. Who else was there to really hear? Who was really getting to see the light of the glory of God shine in them to it’s fullest. Not that it wasn’t dully shining, but was it shining to the fullest? Did they ever come to the point of seeing that all the threats around them were inconsequential when compared to You? “Your flight from your enemies is an expression of your lack of trust in the One you serve. Unless He tells you to hide, there is nothing to hide from. The fact that you have covered yourself with the dark simply means that you aren’t available to be the light He intended.” (Skip Moen) Did David and Elijah remain hermits in their caves? Or did they wake up out of their darkness and run back into the light? Yes, there is a time for self-examination but it’s ultimate goal is to come out acting upon what we learn.
Do you know how David acted? He didn’t run out and defeat all his enemies. He didn’t run out and finish off Saul. Look at the Psalms. Psalm after Psalm, song after song, David glorified You, Lord. David sang forth his confidence in You. He sang forth the light of Your faithfulness. “When surrounded by apparent overwhelming evil, praise is the weapon of choice. To honor God is to defeat the enemy.” (Skip Moen) I sing (shiyr) and make melody (zamar) not because it removes all this hard stuff, but because You,God are God and You are using me for Your glory. In the midst of the trash, You have a divine purpose for me and You are fulfilling it. I sing because I believe.
See, I don’t just sing, and I don’t just sing about what I want or the stuff going on, or how it’s going to be so wonderful soon. I ‘m singing praises to Your name. I’m extolling JAH, the Ever Existent One. I’m rejoicing before You. I’m taking my eyes of the trash and putting them on the Beautiful One. I’m remembering Who You are and forgetting about the power of the trash. I’m remembering Your honor, authority, and character. And I’m reminding myself how much it outshines everything around me. I’m mounding You up, “salal”. I’m piling You higher and higher until I finally see You for who You really are, above everything that surrounds me. I’m exalting You. I can’t exalt You unless I know You, unless I know You intimately.
I’m singing praises to the One I know by name, JAH, my Lord, my Savior, my Everything. And how can I help but rejoice before You? How can I help but jump up and down for joy the more and more I think about You, the more and more I know You and experience You and believe in Your Truth. You bring Your words back to my mind and I leap for joy at Your promises. I leap for joy at Your deliverance. I leap for joy at the shear presence of You. I leap for joy in the love. I leap for joy in Your acceptance of me. I leap for joy that You have made me clean. I leap for joy that You give me the power to carry on. I leap for joy that in You I am an overcomer and I have victory! I leap for joy that I can come before You! Yes, no matter where I am or what mood I am in, I can stand, or sit, or lay, or even shower in the presence of my God. Yes, I have to mention that one, because that is my favorite place to sing to You, Lord. (Well, right along with true corporate worship!) Because if I must cry, You wash away the tears with the water as You cleanse and refresh me. And You always put a song in my heart. And sometimes it’s a song I’ve never sung before. Sometimes it’s just a song about You. I may never sing that song again, but that’s OK, because it was for You, that moment, straight from my heart. And I suppose, at that moment, it was a gift from You to me, reminding me of Who You are.
Lord, I need a tremendous amount of help in honoring You in this area of singing. Because I need to carry this attitude over into all the day, and not just my shower. Instead of snapping at someone when I’m under stress, I need to have a heart of singing and praise. What if today, I started practicing singing continually? I mean, not always out loud, but in my heart and mind too? What if I turned the things that caused me stress into song instead, songs honoring You. How would my attitude change?
“ But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. ” (Isaiah 65:18) Lord, I just need to keep my eyes continually on You. I need to constantly remember, forever, that You are creating in me, the child of God that You desire me to be. You are my creator just as You created Jerusalem to be something for You to rejoice over and a people to fill You with joy. And in being rejoiced over and bringing You joy, it ought to fill my joy full and lead me to reciprocate that rejoicing back to You. Help me to remember, I’m living in a win-win situation here because I’m in. And being in You deserves eternal singing, praising, and rejoicing.