It’s interesting to look into what scripture is alluded to and what the words actually mean that we are singing. I mean, a lot of times we might sing a familiar tune on the radio not giving much thought to the actual words… But what about when we are “singing to God”?
Before we get to the song itself, let’s look at some scripture to get a little background on “longing for God” first.
The Psalmist tells us:
I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord . With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Psalms 84:2 NLT
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?
Psalms 42:1-2 NLT
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
Psalms 63:1-8 NLT
This doesn’t sound like God as a Sunday morning afterthought, but as — dare we say — an obsession? A passion? An all consuming fire?
We will start service tomorrow with this song:
Can we sing such songs in spirit and truth? Are we really longing for God like the Psalmist described? Or only playing around with this deadly game of religion?
I wonder if God has looked down on so many Sunday morning religious gatherings and said something like He had said before in Isaiah:
Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord . “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord , have spoken!”
Isaiah 1:13-20 NLT
Or maybe in Amos:
“I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
Amos 5:21-24 NLT
Man, what a shame it would be for a people to gather in the name of the Living God but have no actual abiding relationship with Him but just be going through the motions, traditions, obligations, self serving dogmas of their religion!
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
It seems like a pretty big deal to me. It seems that like Paul urges the Corinthians, we should be examining ourselves — even questioning the underlying reasons behind what we are doing:
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT
Are we making a name and a reputation amongst men so that we can be honored?
Or are we lounging for Him to receive all praise and honor and glory because He alone is worthy?
I pray that we won’t just sing a catchy, or emotional, or memorable, or beautiful, or gifted, or entertaining song — but that we will TRULY lift our praises to Him, mean what we say, say what we mean, believe In Him, surrender fully and see His will done on earth as it is in heaven.
Lord, show us your glory, because we have none in and of ourselves, and there is a wield in need of your saving grace. Have mercy on your servants, and bless those enemies who might reticent and know the power of the Blood of the Lamb and the fire of the Holy Spirit. Amen.