“Music, Memories and More”
Dr. Robert F. Browning
Calvary Baptist Church
There are 185 songs recorded in the Bible.
I am not surprised. People of faith like to sing.
Perhaps this is due to the fact faith is relational and all relationships are comprised of hopes and dreams, celebrations and special events, disappointments and despair, experiences and stories and a variety of emotions…all the things that give birth to songs.
The first song in the Bible can be found in Exodus 15:1-21. This was a song composed by Moses and his sister, Miriam, after the Hebrew people safely crossed the Red Sea and left Egypt on their way to a new and better life.
The longest song is Psalm 119. It has 176 verses and is a poem set to music exalting the importance and value of God’s Word and words.
The shortest song can be found in 2 Chronicles 5:13. It is seven words long, 5 in Hebrew. “He is good; his love endures forever.” This song was sung as a part of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple when the Ark of the Covenant was brought in before a crowd of grateful worshipers. The Ark was led in by 120 trumpeters who were accompanied by instrumentalists playing cymbals, harps and lyres.
Some of the songs in the Bible were sung by individuals and others by 2 or more people.
Some were sung when people were happy and others when they were sad.
Some were sung when people were worried, scared or frightened and others when people were relieved because they made it through a storm.
Some were sung by those in the pit of despair and others when people were on the mountain top.
Some were sung by people struggling with guilt and others by those who had been forgiven and liberated from guilt and shame.
Some were sung by those pleading for help and others by people expressing gratitude for much needed help.
Most of the 185 biblical songs had one thing in common, though. The people who sang them wanted God to know what was going on in their lives and how they felt about it.
Why? Because they believed God cared.
We have experienced a wonderful service today with beautiful music. The emphasis, however, has not been on the hymns we have sung, the anthems the choir sang or the songs the instrumentalists played. Our attention has been squarely focused on the good, gracious and faithful God we worship and serve.
You see, we believe this God cares about us, too.
We believe God knows each of us…God knows our names…knows our stories…knows what is in our hearts…knows what challenges we are facing…knows what worries are keeping us awake at night…knows what fears are haunting us…knows what disappointments we are trying to work through…knows what we are mad about…knows what mistakes we are making…knows how guilty we feel…yet God still loves us…unconditionally…eternally…like a parent loves a child…like a teacher loves her students….like a doctor or nurse loves their patients…like a coach loves his players…like a minister loves her parishioners.
How can we be so confident of this? What makes us think the God who created the universe knows us and cares for us?
We know this because of what Jesus said and did. Jesus was sent to reveal the true heart and nature of God, and he did this every day in every way through his words and actions.
He conducted his entire public ministry by walking those dusty, Palestinian roads listening to the stories of ordinary people so he could respond to them with grace and mercy. He made circles of friends everywhere he went and made hope visible to everyone he met.
He considered no one unimportant. He discounted no one’s story. He left no one behind.
He cared deeply for everyone he encountered, and he treated each one with dignity, respect and compassion.
Ask the woman caught in adultery who watched in awe as Jesus became her advocate and saved her life.
Ask the woman at the well whom Jesus treated with respect when all others shunned her and then restored her self-respect through his comforting, forgiving and healing words.
Ask Mary, Martha and Lazarus after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and returned him to the family that so desperately needed him.
I would not be surprised if every one of these people, and many more Jesus encountered, wrote and sang a song to honor Jesus and to express their appreciation to God.
Grateful people make a joyful noise. When their heart is full they can’t remain silent. Gratitude must be expressed and one of the best ways to do this is by singing…alone or with others.
No wonder today’s text in Colossians mentions the word gratitude in three consecutive verses, including the one in 3:16. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Grateful people make a joyful noise. Are you?
Do people believe you care about them through your hopeful words and life-giving actions? If they do, don’t be surprised if they write a poem or song about what you have done for them. For sure, you have made their hearts sing.