“Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).
God’s people are a spiritually minded people. James declares in the above short passage that when the heart is downtrodden, let it be lifted up in prayer to God. When the heart is upbeat, let it be lifted up in praise through song to God. Both prayer and singing are natural outlets of the heart of the child of God. Consider three valid reasons on the topic of singing as to why God’s people sing.
- Singing Expresses the Joy of the Heart. While singing is a part of the worship of the church (cf. Heb. 2:12), it should never be a mere expression of “Well, it is commanded so let’s obey.” Some may want to portray the singing of God’s people as mere legalistic expression, but such is not the case when one searches into the heart of those who understand. God’s people have a reason to sing. One of the great songs of the Psalms has these words, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” (Ps. 51:14-15). Saved people sing. When one comes to grips with the depth of one’s sin and then realizes that through the grace of God the forgiveness of those sins is found, the heights of joy are openly expressed in praise and thanksgiving. David also wrote, “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:6). Again, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1). Life is centered in God and the child of God understands “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).
- Singing Educates and Encourages Those Hearing. Luke wrote of Paul and Silas, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25). Those prisoners were privileged to listen to two men show that suffering is not fatal to the soul. Paul wrote to the Colossians concerning singing, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). Congregational singing involves that teaching and admonishing of one another. Singing with grace in the heart to the Lord is very moving in encouragement toward those who hear. While singing is directed toward the Lord, indirectly it is uplifting toward those who hear.
- Singing Embodies the Spirit of What God is Seeking. David wrote, “And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (Ps. 27:6). Again, “Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy” (Ps. 59:17). Solomon wrote, “In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice” (Prov. 29:6). Isaiah wrote, “Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth” (Isa. 12:5). Again, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart” (Isa. 65:13-14).