The Power of Song
As Moses neared the time of his death, he prepared Israel for the transition. One of the things he did was to leave them with a song. God has given His people other songs too because they are powerful tools to shape our souls in truth about ourselves, about life, and especially about the holiness of God.
[Note: This post is based on last week’s reading: Deuteronomy 27-34; Psalms 1-15].
God’s Holiness; Man’s Depravity
It’s hard to read anywhere in the Bible without encountering the reality of the holiness of God. He is set apart, unique, pure, and perfect. There is none like Him. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. He depends on nothing and no one.
But He chose to create the universe, all animate and inanimate things, culminating with man—male and female—in His image (Genesis 1:27). In the biblical narrative the fall of man came very quickly. From then on mankind experienced alienation from God and from others and suffered physical death.
And things got worse, but all the while God was working out a plan whereby the Offspring of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, that is, He would win a complete victory over the father of lies. To do that God called Abraham through whom He began to form a people for Himself. We have seen how that people became a great nation despite being aliens and slaves in Egypt. God then called Moses who led them out of Egypt and for forty years guided them through a nomadic existence in the wilderness south of the Promised Land. The Lord made a covenant with Israel at Sinai where He gave them law by which to govern their society, their worship, and their theology. We will later learn that those legal structures and covenant were not final but would serve Israel until the promised Offspring of the woman, Jesus Christ, established an eternal covenant by His own blood.
Meanwhile, Israel had to prepare to enter the land and take on the enemy inhabitants that God marked for destruction. Moses prepared them for his death and for their new well-trained and proven leader, Joshua. In his farewell address Moses gave the nation his wise advice and commands. He wrote for them a copy of God’s law. Moses blessed each of the twelve tribes.
A Parting Gift from a Dying Leader
But there is something else Moses did for Israel which might surprise us. He wrote a song, and he read it to them. That song told of God’s mighty works. It reminded them of their past idolatry and immorality and warned them of the judgment of God who alone is worthy of worship.
Israel received the gift of Moses’ song, but in that gift they received truth they would not be able to deny nor to easily forget. They might disobey (of course, they would), but they would never be free to say “we didn’t know.”
How appropriate that we began reading Psalms this week. In addition to Moses’ song, God gave Israel poetry and music not just for entertainment but for their spiritual understanding. When we read and sing Psalms, we sense the majesty and holiness of God but also His great compassion for His hurting people who must endure the depravity of fallen bodies in a fallen world. There is comfort because He knows that we are dust. He is with us. He delivers us.
What are you singing?
I am not suggesting that Christians need to be exclusive Psalm-singers, but whatever we sing will grip our souls and mold our minds. What are you singing? There is power–for good or for evil–in song. May our song be to the glory of God!
This week’s reading: The Gospel of Mark