but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings; when they are running they won’t grow weary, when they are walking they won’t get tired.
Yesha ‘yahu (Isa) 40:31 CJB
I know from previous writings, most of you don’t visit me for knowledge, for facts that is, but it is part of the gig. As students of Christ, we’re instructed to never stop learning. As disciples of Christ, we’re instructed to demonstrate Him in our behaviors and words; behaviors and words which teach others. I promise, just a few “facts” before I ramble.
In the Old Testament (using the NIV today) the word faith is only mentioned 16 times the Old Testament; in the New Testament 254! What a shift of priority! My thought, God walked with His people in the Old Testament. They saw Him, in the Garden, the flaming bush, angels, splitting river, manna and many other ways. Physically, He was real to them. Even in the quiet times, when people could not see or hear Him, He was always walking with the faithful, like Enoch and Noah.
Enoch walked faithfully with God; Gen 5:24
Noah was a righteous man, … he walked faithfully with God. Gen 6:9
Jesus, while real baby, child and man for 33 years, after his crucifixion and resurrection, He was not real to the people (at large). He was a fulfillment, hope fulfilled. I hope we must proclaim!!
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3
What is your song? What song aches within you? What stirs you? Does it make you stop and remind you that you are not doing what you want to be doing?
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
Does your song pull your heart into the feeling of a warm blanket where you feel safe and secure? Where it reminds you of the moment you were running to a neighbor, terrified of the mother’s boyfriend and they greeted you with open arms and a warm meal? Or the time you were terrified that your drunken parent was going to do it again so you ran away for awhile to hide, and the neighbor who knew you were there left lights off and didn’t tell? Or the time you cowered underneath a stairwell not knowing if another moment of breathing was worth it and suddenly a breath of fresh air comes over you and you meet God! That is was It Is Well With My Soul does for me as well as Amazing Grace.
I pray that your faith, the well in your soul that fosters your foundation of strength, is deep and wide, that you know who keeps your thirst at bay and nourishes you. We’ll spend more time on faith. Tell us your faith story. I’ll be sharing more of mine.
Hymns get a bad rap! I remember when I realized I needed to find a place to get to know God better (than just talking to Him on walks and reading the Bible on my own) I resisted like hell! Seriously. Me! In a church? With all those judgey people and antique music???
Oh yeah, some of their songs were ‘pretty’, but nothing I wanted to spend any serious time with. Yes, I sang them in school in all the choirs I was in and they were beautiful, some even touched me, but the chorale directors made the music fun! Not like a dirge. Like a funeral march.
X number of years later, okay, XX number of years later, I’ve matured in my Christian walk and I get God better and I get hymns! There are still some that I cringe when we sing them, I still think they sound like a dirge, but now I understand them (better). In 2005 the music group Out of Eden released the album Hymns. Changed my view! Even the antique music of our great, great, great, great, great, great, grand whatevers can be beautiful!
There is a long history to hymns, to the length I doubt you want to go to here, so suffice it to say hymns evolved as a way for the common people to better learn and understand elements of the liturgy and scripture previously only performed by the monks (Music for Church Choirs) to what we have today.
In November of 2012, Thom S. Rainer published a blog listing the Top 25 Hymns sung in churches over the previous four years. I’ve added links to these songs, from various artists, so you can experience them. Some of these I enjoy, some well, you may enjoy.
- How Great Thou Art
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness
- Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
- All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- Jesus Paid It All
- Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
- Crown Him with Many Crowns
- It Is Well with My Soul
- To God Be the Glory
- The Solid Rock
- Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
- I Stand Amazed in the Presence
- Victory in Jesus
- Nothing but the Blood
- Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound
- Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
- At the Cross
- Revive Us Again
- Be Thou My Vision
- Because He Lives
- Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
- A Mighty Fortress is Our God
- For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
- America, the Beautiful
A hymn for peace I do enjoy though, Breathe on Me, Breath of God, Play it and listen with your eyes closed and no other noise if possible. You’ll be surprised at what it does for you. Randy Travis, Country Music star, has several faith based albums so I’ll leave you with two of his that wake my faith, warm my soul and cause me to raise up again. I hope you enjoy them also. I’ll Fly Away and Deeper Than The Holler.
The Book of Psalms, or as is most commonly called, Psalms. A book of poems, stories, prayers and songs, it was known as a psalter.
There are 150 psalms in the Christian Bible. The is one psalm in the Apocrypha, Psalm 151, which is extremely short and a concise summary of David’s childhood. There is nothing in it that is not in many other places through the Old Testament, a reason it may have been excluded but not of point here.
There are a million things we could talk about when discussing Psalms; don’t worry, we’re not, at least not today. Let’s talk about why God gave us them.
Let me remind you, I am not an educated, degreed theologian. What I write here is what I hear in the Gospel and what I’m guided to write, praying I’m not misleading you.
In these very early days, the average, let alone less than average person, did not read or own books. Heritage, history, and memories were passed down by word of mouth, song, dance, and symbols. People memorized what was important, and that memory work began at a very early age; something we have lost in this day and age.
Also, in those days with various types of war and enslavement, individuals were frequently physically mistreated, harshly, for their beliefs. To prevent this, they would keep their beliefs on the inside, only sharing in word with known like believers. What better way to help so many people, so many disenfranchised, uneducated, unsettled people learn the history and promises of God than with poems and songs (Psalms).
Probably the most important thing to see in Psalms is Jesus! Wait! Hold the presses! Psalms is OT, Jesus ain’t born yet!!!!!! You are absolutely correct, but the promise of the Messiah has been made. Here’s some examples of where the Old and New Testaments line up perfectly. (All use NIV)
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ps 2:7
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mt 3:17
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. Ps 16:10
Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. Acts 2:31
So it is also stated elsewhere: “‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Acts 13:35
And there are many others. The faithful of the time and today understand that in the good times, the Psalms give you peace in troubled times and guidance in time of darkness. It helps us see that a shepherd boy, the 99-lb weakling for a visual image when compared to his brothers, yet the favored of his father, perhaps because he was the last, can grow up to be a King. It shows us that God gets that His chosen ones make mistakes (David lied, committed murdered and adultery), suffered at times with depression (my words) and lust, and yet was forgiven, unconditionally by the one who had called him.
David had, even through his darkest times, faith. He knew God was present. He never doubted God would hear his cries. He understood he did not know God’s timetable. He recognized that we may not be able to see the Messiah, but that He was coming and we would all have eternal faith. He never asked for proof. He never said, “if you do this” or “because you did that”, he just sang and talked because he had the faith of a child and sought for his father.
Let’s close today with the beginning of Psalm 62 (HCSB), verses 1 & 2.
I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will never be shaken.
Be blessed! 💕
Everyone has that one teacher in their life that they look back on with a grimace, and maybe even a feeling they think is hatred, and celebrate their paths never crossing again. For me it is a history teacher whose name I’ll leave out.
Then there are those teachers they look back on with a smile and warm heart, someone who changed their lives. For me, it was a tie, my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Larsen and my high school choral director Mr. Sheehan. I probably would not have lived through elementary school if Ms. Mary, the Speech Therapist, had not invested in me.
These people, for good or bad, influenced who we became, what decisions we’ve made through life, how we have treated and reacted to others. Their traits ingrained themselves on us to the point where when we cross paths with others of similar traits, we develop impressions of them based on those memories, unaware we are doing so.
What does this have to do with faith or psalms or hymns? Everything! How can we begin to embrace or understand something if we don’t understand, and accept, where it came from? I suspect I am going to bring out some facts over the next few days about songs you cherish that you may not like. For example, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army (an organization that forbids alcohol) used bar tunes as the base of the hymns he wrote. Logic was solid, the people already knew the tune, he just needed to teach them new words and distract them from Satan in doing so. (Apologetix.com) (Wordwise-Bible-Studies) So first, we begin with a dirty word, history (brief). We’ll drill down into each later.
Psalms are conversations with God. They teach us how to talk with Him. They provide the example for the basic structure of a prayer, ACTS.
Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Adoration tells God we recognize Him for who He is. Confession, we’re all sinners, He just wants us to be honest with Him. Thanksgiving, He wants to know that we recognize that all good and perfect things in our lives, including our life, are from Him. Supplication, He wants to know how we feel, what we want and need (or think we want and need), what is hurting us, and who we are concerned for. (JustPray.org)
Additionally, Psalms has played a prominent role in the development of church development, worship, assembly, liturgy, and reformation. Though written during Old Testament times, Jesus frequently referenced them, the disciples used them for teaching, as I said the church format developed from them and we (the Church at large) use the heavily today!
I’m cheating here and giving you the information from gotquestions.com. (Excellent source).
Question: “What are hymns? What is the value of hymns in worship?”
Answer: A hymn is a song of praise. In ancient Greek culture, a hymnos was musical praise directed to the gods or heroes of the day. In Christianity, hymns are directed to the one true God, of course.
God’s people have sung hymns in honor of the Almighty since the time of Moses and before (Exodus 15:1). David sang the “new song” God gave him and taught others to sing “a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3). Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn together at the Last Supper (Mark 14:26). The early church sang hymns as part of their regular gatherings (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul and Silas, with their feet in stocks in a Philippian jail, were “praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).
Technically, a hymn is a stanzaic, metrical poem meant to be sung. A traditional meter for hymns in English is 184.108.40.206., called common meter, which corresponds with ballad stanza. The subject matter of a hymn is what distinguishes it from the “psalms” and “spiritual songs” mentioned in Ephesians 5:19 (ESV); a psalm can be thought of as Scripture set to music—usually from the book of Psalms—and a spiritual song can be any song with a spiritual theme, including songs of testimony and admonition. A hymn addresses and celebrates God and has the purpose of praise and adoration.
So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. Romans 10:17 (HCSB)
My thought, if you hear God in the Psalms, if you hear God in the hymns or any of His music, you are hearing the message of Christ (God). Praise be!