O Rest in the Lord – by Mendelssohn

Scripture put to music that supports and lifts the text is as beautiful as it gets, because it is truth. Here is one aria from Elijah that has meant a lot to me through the years. It is taken from Psalm 37.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. ~ Psalm 37:3-7

Songs of Praises Lift Our Hearts

sunriseScripture records how David the shepherd boy played his harp and drove out the evil spirit of King Saul. What an incredible thing music is and what it can accomplish, both good or evil.

It can fuel hatred and alienation and violence, or it can sooth someone’s mind, lift their spirits, and as believers in Jesus Christ, it can help us to forget ourselves and move us to worship God.

The poet William Cowper suffered from severe, terrible bouts of depression at times in his life. Yet in 1779, he wrote these words:

Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

Although he had a physical body and mind that gave him much torment in his life, he recognized the lifting power of singing of God’s mercies and salvation in Jesus Christ.

HPIM1336.JPGWhile looking for a hymn on YouTube this morning, I experienced the same encouragement. Having put to memory a number of hymns years ago, I enjoy (privately) singing along with them when I get to hear them. One hymn led to another and another. Both the Scriptural texts of these hymns and the music supporting the texts can lift you out of yourself and into heavenly places. This hymn here, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah, really blessed me today. That kind of meaty, muscular, vital hymn singing is often missing in churches today, but thankfully, we can still hear it elsewhere. Also, reading the words of Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor, I was reminded of God’s great redemptive plan, and the offering on Calvary, once for all, for our sin. I wonder today if many of our young people even recognize the Old Testament references to Christ in rich hymns like this. Here are the words to this great Communion hymn.

Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendor,
first-begotten from the dead.
Thou alone, our strong defender,
liftest up thy people’s head.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Jesus, true and living bread!

Here our humblest homage pay we,
here in loving reverence bow;
here for faith’s discernment pray we,
lest we fail to know thee now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou art here, we ask not how.

Though the lowliest form doth veil thee
as of old in Bethlehem,
here as there thine angels hail thee,
branch and flower of Jesse’s stem.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
We in worship join with them.

Paschal Lamb, thine offering, finished
once for all when thou was slain,
in its fullness undiminished
shall for evermore remain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Cleansing souls from every stain.

Life-imparting heavenly Manna,
stricken Rock with streaming side,
heaven and earth with loud hosanna
worship thee, the Lamb who died.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Risen, ascended, glorified!

~  George Hugh Bourne, 1874

Our little daughter, Emmy, folded her hands over breakfast this morning and prayed, “O Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For his steadfast love endures forever!” We can sing of the mercies of the Lord forever, and as we do, we can often see our gloom fall away in the light of our Savior’s face.

Scripture Light in Your Email Each Day

Lamp-LightA friend of mine has a ministry where she sends out daily verses called “Think on This Thing”, and she sends a separate devotional from Streams in the Desert, the classic books filled with practical, biblical truth. If any Hope Blog readers would like to receive these daily in your email, you can send me your email address by posting a comment.  Your emails will not be made public. I’ll send the email addresses to my friend, and she will add you to the list. Each morning I appreciate the verse to ponder and the devotional to put my thoughts on truth from God’s Word.

Here is a sample of the devotional from a couple of days ago.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)

It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.

Lord, teach me to rejoice in You – to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
–selected

The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.

Be filled with the Spirit… Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
–Ephesians 5:18-19

In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.

Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
–John Henry Jowett

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
–Acts 16:25

O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
–J. Roach

Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore, When darts of the Tempter are flying, For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before, Our singing much more than our crying.

God’s Counsel in the Midst of Trouble

The eternal truth of God’s Word struck me again in reading this passage. It was true when the Psalmist wrote this, and it’s true today. I want to share the whole passage for those of us dealing with anger and who tend to “fret” about those who seem to harm others with impunity in this life. This is a passage that gives clear instructions NOT to “fret” over the seeming success of their schemes, but to trust and wait on God.

Psalm 37

A Psalm of David.

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.

7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.
11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

12 The wicked plots against the just,
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword
And have bent their bow,
To cast down the poor and needy,
To slay those who are of upright conduct.
15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
And their bows shall be broken.

16 A little that a righteous man has
Is better than the riches of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
But the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the LORD,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
And dwell forevermore.
28 For the LORD loves justice,
And does not forsake His saints;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
And dwell in it forever.

30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
And his tongue talks of justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
None of his steps shall slide.

32 The wicked watches the righteous,
And seeks to slay him.
33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
Nor condemn him when he is judged.

34 Wait on the LORD,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
And spreading himself like a native green tree.
36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
For the future of that man is peace.
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
The future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
He is their strength in the time of trouble.
40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
He shall deliver them from the wicked,
And save them,
Because they trust in Him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 37:36 Following Masoretic Text, Septuagint, and Targum; Syriac and Vulgate read I passed by.

Word for Today

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

–Psalm 1