God created music and song with a special power to help us EXPRESS our hearts, but he also designed music as a means to IMPRESS our hearts. What do I mean by that? When we sing or listen to music, it’s rarely a neutral activity. Something is overtly or covertly being EXPRESSED by and IMPRESSED upon our heart. We remember songs. They get stuck in our head. They stick with us. Songs become associated with times, places, events, and seasons of our life. Many couples have “their song”. Every nation in the world has an anthem. Schools and football teams for crying out loud have songs! A song has a lot of power. Singing has a lot of power.
The longest book in the Bible…the Book of Psalms…is a book of praise songs. There is a book in the Bible that is a love song, called the Song of Songs. Music. Not only in the Book of Psalms or Song of Songs, but scattered all throughout the Scriptures we find over 185 songs expressing the glory of God and impressing upon our hearts the truths of His character and ways. The longest song in the Bible is Psalm 119 (it’s 1,732 Hebrew words long) and it’s an anthem about how important the Word of God is. The shortest song in the Bible is in 2 Chronicles 5:13 (it’s 7 Hebrew words long) and it’s a simple song about the goodness of God and His enduring love.
The first song recorded in the Scriptures is the song of Moses (Exodus 15), an anthem about God’s mighty power to rescue and save His people. The last song recorded in the Bible is an all-out worship celebration where all God’s people are singing…the song of Moses after Jesus returns to rescue and save (Revelation 15). Chris Tomlin has nothing on Moses song writing skills…haha. Singing should be a very natural response to God’s salvation and revelation of God’s glory.
Why do I bring all of this up? Because I firmly believe that God has designed and always intended for His people to leverage the power of song to help us EXPRESS love, thanksgiving, honor, and praise, but also to IMPRESS upon our hearts the truths of His character, nature and Word.
I have found that it is easy to listen to songs for hours on the radio or Spotify or whatever device I use, without really paying much attention to what I’m singing. I might even have songs memorized and not really even know what I’m singing or what the song is about. We miss something, I believe, when we are not intentional about what we are singing as individuals, as a family, or as a church.
The apostle Paul said that he would “sing praise with his spirit, but also sing praise with his mind also.” (1 Cor. 14:15), meaning that he sought to understand with his heart and mind what he was singing. In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul makes a huge connection that we should all pay attention to when he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” In this text, Paul tells us that singing Scripturally rooted songs is one of the means by which we allow the word of Christ (gospel) to dwell in us richly as individuals and as a church. This is so cool!
So what does this mean?
We live in a day and age when there are more “Christian songs” written and recorded than ever before. As a worship pastor and song writer for the church, I praise God for that. There are many songs that are Scripturally rooted that we sing regularly, but may not even know that the lyrics of the song are sourced straight from Scripture. Because the real transformative power for our lives is in God’s Word, it would make sense for us to go to the Scriptures and make those connections. On the flip side, there are many “Christian songs” that are not rooted in Scripture and may even subtly communicate an idea contrary to Scripture and bring harm to our souls.
The Bereans, who received God’s Word with eagerness and investigated the Scriptures to see if Paul’s preaching was true (Acts 17:10-11), set a great example for us. What if we did something similar with the songs we sing? Rather than taking Chris Tomlin’s, or Matt Redman’s, or Hillsong’s, or All Sons and Daughter’s, or Bethel’s word for it…we investigated the Scriptures to see what the song is about and how it is rooted in Scripture? Not as a technical exercise from a critical spirit, but from a place of hunger and desire to know God and let “the word of Christ dwell in us richly”.
I’ve recently written a new song that we’ve been singing at Antioch Dallas titled “Word of God, Everlasting”. The main reason I believe it has connected with our community is because the song is lyrically rooted in the Scriptures. As an example for you, I have listed the lyrics below and in parenthesis have provided the Scripture reference for the lyrics. Take a few minutes and look of the Scriptures and make the connection between the song and the Word of God…it will enrich your experience the next time you hear or sing the song!
Word of God, everlasting (John 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:24-25)
Source of life and light (John 1:4)
With the Father from beginning (John 17:5; Proverbs 8:22-31)
Ever glorified (John 17:1-5; Romans 11:36)
Emmanuel, you dwelt among us (John 1:14)
Full of truth and grace (John 1:14)
Laid down your life, crucified (John 10:17-18; 19:18)
You bore our guilt and shame (Col. 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24)
Earth and heaven shout your praise (Psalm 19:1; 48:9-10)
All eternity cannot contain
All the worship you deserve (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 1:17)
Jesus, You’re worthy of it all (Revelation 5:12)
Victorious, our salvation (Revelation 12:9-11; 17:14)
Death could not restrain (Romans 6:9)
Crushing power of sin and hell (1 Cor. 15:54-57; Col. 2:15)
You rose and now you reign (Matt. 28:6, 18; Revelation 11:15)
Every tribe and tongue and nation (Revelation 7:9-10)
Bless his Holy Name (Psalm 145:21)
Who was, who is, who is to come (Revelation 1:8)
His kingdom shall not end (Isaiah 9:7; Psalm 145:13)
Expressing our praise and thanks to God and allowing His truth to be impressed on our hearts, may we be a people that “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. I encourage you to intentionally leverage the power of God’s Word in song to enrich your life and help direct your soul to know and encounter God.