It is not so uncommon for my heart to betray me over the course of a week. On Sunday morning I gather with my brothers and sisters at the foot of the Lord’s mountain, and over the course of an hour, as God’s Word is read, prayed, sung, and preached, I ascend to great spiritual heights, as I am reminded of my Lord’s splendor, of His glory, and the reconciliation that Jesus has secured for me.
I go home and I enjoy a wonderful meal with my family. Later that afternoon, I revisit the text that was preached that morning and I discover new glories that were hidden there, made accessible to me because of the great foundation which the pastor labored to provide me earlier that day. In the evening I gather once again in a brother’s home, alongside a number of other families, where we again break bread, fellowship, and discuss God’s Word which was preached. On the Lord’s day, I am before Him continually, and I shan’t ever desire to be anywhere else.
But oh, when Monday comes, it is then when my descent down the mountain and away from God generally begins. Over the course of the week, my heart which was once tuned so closely to the Lord’s own is tempted to stray. As challenges and difficulties begin to mount, I am prone to wander, to seek rest and comfort in the things of this world. I turn to earthly things, be it television, social media doomscrolling, or endless other distractions, few of which ever point me back to the path I ought trod.
Before long, however, usually around Thursday or Friday, as I again begin to look toward Sunday, the fog begins to lift from my mind, and the darkness which I had grown so comfortable living in, without realizing it, is mercifully pushed away. In this moment I am given clarity of mind, but often lack the heart to match. I know I ought to desire the Lord, but I am incomplete.
This is when I sing. This is when I call forth the songs of God in memory, letting their tunes and melodies gladden my heart, and their words remind my soul of God’s own.
The effects of song and music, namely that of psalms and hymns, are mysterious to me, but they are not to God. This is why He Himself has given us inspired songs to sing, and it is why He has commanded that we should do so.
In Deuteronomy 31:1-13, for example, God meets with Moses to inform him that soon after he dies, the people of Israel will be quick to stray from God’s commands, and would find themselves hopelessly oppressed. From this suffering, however, the people would again be stirred to remember their God.
God therefore gives Moses a song to teach to His people that they would never forget: one which would find their lips in the midst of their despair, as well as one which would remind them of God’s past faithfulness, of their covenant with Him, of their rebellion, and of the abundant grace which awaits those who repent. It is the song that we have come to call “The Song of Moses” in Deuteronomy 32:1-47.
Ultimately all of God’s Word serves this very purpose. The Bible is God’s sermon to us: proclaiming His might, declaring our sin, calling us to repentance, and placing salvation in His hands. When we read it, God is revealed, we are condemned, and salvation is offered.
In this I hope we can all agree, but I want to challenge the reader to do more than merely read. I want to challenge the reader to sing.
Sing the Words of God back to Him. Commit them to memory, as God has commanded, and I believe you will find that they, too, will find your own lips, when you stray.
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Austin Rouse is the Pastor of Families and Students at Southern Heights Baptist Church in Russellville, KY, where he and his wife, Addie, reside with their two children, Naomi and Tommy. He will graduate from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this fall with his BA in Biblical Studies and is on track to graduate with his M.Div in the fall of 2024. Austin shepherds Southern Heights in the areas of family worship and discipleship, mission strategization, corporate worship, and student ministry, and co-hosts The Council podcast with a fellow elder of the church.
October 20, 2023
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