The Songs of the Bible
The music of the Middle East and the songs of Europe and Africa are not easily forgotten. Centuries have passed from the time of the timbrel to the tune of the tonga. The song of the Rock is seldom heard in this age of rock and roll. Nevertheless, the Christian has been given the song of songs and by means of singing he can worship the living and true God. The Psalmist reminds us that, “It is good to sing praises unto our God” (Psa. 147:1). Paul reveals that we are to sing, “With grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
The first recorded song of the Bible as well as the last is associated with Moses. Isaiah records several songs in his great book of 66 chapters (Isa. 5, 12, 25, 26, 27, 35 etc.), Ezekiel records the song of the world (Ezek. 33:32); whereas Solomon reveals there is a song of woe (Ecc. 7:5). The song of the drunkard and the song of the harlot (Ps. 69:12. Isa. 23:15-16), as well as the song of the redeemed and the song of the Beloved (Isa. 5 and Song of Songs) are given to us for our spiritual profit and praise. It is no wonder the Psalmist says, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31).
While it is very true there are some wonderful songs that the world sings, yet none can compare with the song of the soul that has been set free from the power of Satan and the penalty of sin. It matters little how sweet the song, only the heart that has been touched by the grace of God and indwell by the Holy Spirit makes a melody unto the Lord. It would be impossible to forget the stirring events I witnessed relative to this song of victory in Exodus. In the Fall of 1957 after continual attacks of Egyptian fedayeed (Murder squads) to kill and pillage, plus the Russian infiltration and many years of terror, boycott, and blockade the Israeli army suddenly and efficiently mobilized, and within seven days had taken the whole of the Sinai peninsula in addition to the Gaza strip; from the straits of Eilat to Rafa, El Arish and Kantara, and from Nitzana to the Red Sea in the South. Walking along the streets of Jerusalem it was like Bible times for the song of Moses became the song of the Jewish forces. Of what did they sing? Their victory; their power, and the strength of their New State. How different the song of the saint!
The Song Of Salvation - Exodus 15
The Song of Salvation enshrines a Person. From generation to generation this song has been handed down for its theme is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. No wonder Moses sang, “Who is like unto Thee O Lord among the gods? … glorious in holiness” … (V.11). His character is revealed as holy, powerful and victorious. This song expresses a possession. “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation.” How it thrills the soul to know that we are the heritage of God, and long before we reach Heaven we may experience the riches and resources that are ours in Christ. Not only have we the Spirit of God, but we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies; the bequest of peace and the bounty of the Book of Books. Would God we could possess our possessions and live in the reality that we walk a path paved with the promises of God. Surely this would help us to sing the song of the Lord in a wilderness of cults and superficial melodies. The Song of Salvation not only brings before us a Person and reminds of our possession but it also exults in a prospect. In this song Moses speaks with prophetic insight for he saw the people of God already in the land (v. 13-17). His singing is one of assurance since He knew the God who had promised. Today we are often found singing in the minor key, but the day is coming when we shall major in a melody that has no end in Eternity. Even now God is able to give the songs in the night (Job. 35:10), but in that day we shall sing the songs of Zion and our sanctuary will be the house of the Lord forever.
Oh! to dwell upon the Person of Christ, the provision that He has made, and to live in the reality of His possession and prospect. Truly it is enough to fill and thrill the heart and to cause the lips to break forth into a never ending refrain:
“Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:5, 6).
The Song Of Redemption - Isaiah 12.
It is important to bear in mind two events in the history of Israel. The first is in relation to the song of Moses in Exodus 15. The second is in relation to the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23. After the children of Israel were delivered from the thraldom of Egypt, the song of redemption began. Only the redeemed can sing!
The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated the wanderings of the people of God in the wilderness. During this celebration the Israelites dwelt in booths for a week. Along with this feast there developed other symbolical observances. Among these there was a very memorable one. On each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, at a given point in the mountain, to the pool of Siloam in the valley below, and in their golden vases they drew the cool sparkling waters; these they bore up, amidst the blare of trumpets and the clash of cymbals, and poured them upon the altar, while the people chanted, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3). Hence, as they sang in the day of their national liberation from Egypt, so also in their day of national restoration to the land of Emmanuel.
In the closing verses, we have the key for the divine melody in Isaiah 12. It was deliverance from Egypt and it recalled the past as well as anticipated the future day of the nation’s restoration. It is the language of the remnant in the future though addressed to the people of Isaiah’s time. In this prophecy is also a picture of the Gospel. As of old Israel had a song, so the Christian. The song is in two stanzas (1-3, 4-6); it is deep in thought and rich in spirit. The first reason for their song is:
The Wrath of God is Passed: For this cause Israel will sing in her millennial glory. Praise is the distinctive hallmark of the redeemed. It is the goal of creation, the consummation of history, and is the fulfilment of all prophecy, that the “earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). What Israel will sing in the future, Christians can sing now. In “that day” Israel will rejoice because of her reconciliation. Even so the child of God rejoices in the knowledge of the reconciliation effected at Calvary nineteen centuries ago. Reconciliation means that a thing is completely changed or adjusted to something which is a standard, as a watch to the chronometer. It is not that God is changed, but the world is thoroughly changed in its position before the holy judgment of God since Christ has died. Today God is not imputing their sins unto them, but in view of Christ’s death, the world is rendered saveable. Thus our language is the same as the Apostle Paul, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself… For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:19-21). Wrath gives way to rest, and fear to the divine favour of Jehovah who bestows His strength, His song, and His salvation.
The salvation of God is Personal: Here we see that the triune blessing of God is personal. What eternal life was to Paul and John, salvation was to Isaiah. It is one of the “everlasting things” of Isaiah, and in his book he emphasizes the safety and security found in the everlasting God. Other everlasting things are recorded besides salvation (45:17); light (60:19); joy (35:10); strength (26:4); kindness (54:8); covenant (55:3); and judgment (33:14).
So many people fear and are beset with anxious thought concerning their salvation. This is not the experience of the prophet of God. Jehovah was his strength, and song, that is, His Person; whereas the term salvation relates to His provision. Isaiah’s threefold chord of glorying will be sung all down the ages until that day when Israel redeemed, ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, will sing it in the millennial age.
The Resouces of God are Perennial: God Himself is seen to be the wellspring of salvation. It is a most picturesque scene taken from the atmosphere of eastern life. Often in Cana, Jericho, or Nazareth we have seen the village people around the well. There with their flocks, or earthen pitchers, the people gather, exchange greetings and pass on the news of the day. Just as Israel sang upon their deliverance from Egyptian slavery, so they slaked their thirst on the desert march with water from the rock. In the coming day of Israel’s restoration they shall with joy draw refreshment from the well of exhaustless supply. Today the well of God’s sufficiency is for all who will stoop and drink. Salvation is a well, not a tank, and so its water is ever fresh, free and full. How necessary therefore to draw, draw, draw. God does not leave man to his own resources; they are like the wells of this earth, that freeze in winter and dry up in summer. Here is a well that is ever gushing up with sparkling clear water, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (Isa. 55:1).
The prophet follows on in a magnificent strain for all who have drunk from the wells of salvation; praise, call, declare, mention, cry and shout (verses 4, 5). Having tasted of the goodness of God, it is our duty to tell. It is not enough to sing, we must also serve. We should make known what we know; “Let this be known in all the earth” (verse 5, R.V.).
In the first stanza the prophet has something to speak about; in the final stanza he has something to sing about, and also something to shout about.