by Kevin Burton
With all due respect to all the singing going on in the Psalms, my favorite singers in the Bible are the Earthquake Singers.
OK, so I made that title up. The singers are not recorded in the Bible as such. But some of you know what I am talking about: Paul and Silas singing from a prison cell in the book of Acts.
It’s fifth period at our school for the spiritually blind. We study together here on Sundays to let God’s word open our spiritual eyes, so we may serve Him better. Today we are at choir practice.
What you may ask, is the difference between singing in the physical and in a spiritual sense. Singing is singing, right?
Singing as performance draws attention to the singer. The kind of singing Paul and Silas were doing drew attention and shone glory on God.
Have you ever heard Christian singers and suspected they were more intent on gaining praise for themselves? Sometimes I think that is true, but I can never really know.
God always knows.
God knew what was in the heart of David when he danced before the Lord with all his might, even if his wife Michal didn’t know (2 Sam. 6: 14-22).
In Acts 16:18 Paul casts a demon out of a slave girl. The girl had made money for her owners by divination. Now that was no longer possible. The owners, acting only on the physical, saw money gone, not a life freed, and had Paul and his companion Silas thrown into prison.
David was doing his dancing in good times. Isn’t that when we tend to do our singing? Things are falling into place, your step is a little lighter and you just burst forth in song.
Paul and Silas though were in shackles, in prison, having been beaten. It was midnight, they didn’t know what the new day would bring. But they did know they were on a mission for the sovereign God of the universe.
That for them was reason enough to sing. Here’s Acts 16:25-26:
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”
This is a powerful story beyond the singing part. The jailer ends up getting saved. We aren’t told what happened to the prisoners who heard Paul and Silas singing, but they encountered the gospel, up close and personal. Vocal music was at the heart of it.
“All told, the Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing,” writes Bob Kauflin on http://www.desiringgod.org.
“The longest book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a book of songs. And in the New Testament we’re commanded not once, but twice, to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another when we meet (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).
When the rebuilt wall of Jerusalem was dedicated, Nehemiah organized two large choirs of praise and thanksgiving to God for the occasion.
“Then the he two choirs took their positions in the house of God. So did I and half of the officials with me,” reads Nehemiah 12: 40. Verse 43 reads “and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, and the women and children rejoiced as well, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from far away.”
Be assured the songs that day were not just any old songs. They were songs of praise to God. “It not only matters that we sing, it matters what we sing,” Kauflin writes. “And the words we sing have a far greater impact on us than most of us are aware.”
Class notes, fifth period, choir: A song that leaps from the heart of a Christian goes directly to God. But it might land on human ears too, perhaps causing a spiritual, if not a literal, earthquake.
One for the spiritual road: On the day before his crucifixion, Jesus sang hymns with His disciples.