Songs I Dare Not Sing (1)

I love singing praises to the Lord. It is a fundamental truth of humanity: Music stirs the soul. Scripture is replete with commands to “sing joyfully to the Lord!” An longest book of the Bible is the national (inspired!) hymnbook for Israel. There is great joy to be found in exuberant songs of praise penned by men such as David and the sons of Korah. There is great truth proclaimed by Asaph. The Psalms span the entire spectrum of human emotion and human responses to the work of God–whether it be weeping over Psalm 51’s statement, “Against You, You only, I have sinned (v4),” or comfort found in the tenderness of “The Lord is my Shepherd.” 

While we don’t sing the Psalms any more, our songs serve a great purpose. They drive us to our knees in repentance, remind us of the greatness of our God, and provide comfort in aflficition. But recently, I’ve been noticing another genre of song. Songs which border on insanity. Take, for example, this verse from Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,

Let goods and kindred go

This mortal life also

The body they may kill

God’s Truth abideth still

His kingdom is forever.

This verse is scary. It is something I don’t want to see lived out. I have no desire to be martyred tomorrow, even though I posess the assurance that after this life stands heaven. How about this song, Jesus I My Cross Have Taken,

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee

Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be

Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve sought or hoped or known

Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own

Later in the same song, a line reads,

Foes may hate, and friends disown me, Show Thy face and all is bright

“Foes may hate” causes no stir. It is only natural for those who are my adversaries to hate me as a person, especially for the sake of the gospel. But “friends disown me?” The more I read the revealed Word of God, the more I am convinced in the radical nature of true biblical ministry. These songs embody exactly what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:19, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Why is it that we can joyfully sing about trials coming and proclaim blessed be the name of the Lord? It is because the only trials which can touch us will create within us a spirit which will some day be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” It is because of the horrors we have been called from and the joys we have been called to which makes “let goods and kindred go” a resounding, fully rational thought. Everyone who has placed their joy in Christ has seen the Lord give and take away. Regardless of what has been taken, it is merely a reclamation of gifts which have been given to us. This is why we sing “blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I must give a note of thanks to Gunner Gundersen who contributed to the ideas contained in this post.

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2 responses to “Songs I Dare Not Sing (1)”

  1. Gunner says :

    Nate: Thanks for your thoughts. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am that the Lord is teaching you about the radical nature of following Jesus. The man was full-tilt, all-out, to-the-wall in doing the will of God come hell or high water. What a calling. I can’t wait to keep talking about this and striving to live it out. There is no other way to live. I’m glad you’re not singing without thinking.

  2. brooksnj says :

    A simple reading of the gospels definately debunks the popular notion of a Jesus with long, flowing hair, twinkling eyes, and an other-worldly air about Him. The man let nothing distract him from His mission: bringing glory to God through His death.

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