A few years ago I was given an assignment by my presbytery to lecture on, How To Have Perfect Peace. Lucky for me there is a place in the Bible that actually addresses that—Isaiah 26.
So when the time came I stood up and said,
“Well, the way to have Perfect Peace is to:
- trust God and
- the way to trust God—to have peace that is perfect—is to keep your mind ‘stayed’ on Him.”
It looked to be the most simplistic and also the briefest address that I would ever give in my life, because, what else is there to say?
But something happened in my preparations that I wasn’t prepared for…a discovery, if you will, that changed my life. It was there all the time and it is right there, right now, if we back up, rub our eyes, and consider the context. Verse 3 is a verse to a song!
1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah;
We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
2 Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Why is that revolutionary? Well, God could have given Israel this truth as a principle, a precept, a memory verse, a statement, a command, a proverb, etc, if He had wanted to. But it was composed and delivered as a truth to sing. So I told my audience, “I’m not sure that this works—this way to perfect peace—unless it is sung. Because singing is emotive and when we sing songs like this, in times like these, we are cycling God’s Word through our minds and hearts with feeling and it is our thoughts and our emotions that need to be affected. God knows this, He knows what we need, and He knows how to help us.”
Consider the Psalms. Here we have a collection of 150 songs that cover the entire range of the human condition. Fear, anger, loss, isolation, anxiety, danger, pain, betrayal, suffering, that are minor key expressions that ultimately end on a high note because of the fact that the singing brings God into focus even while the Psalmist is in dire straights. Additionally, the love, joy, trust, confidence, reliance, and relationship that the Psalmist has with God is accompanied with deep reflection and aided with instrumental and vocal crescendo. Righteous emoting is essential. Now we know why the apostle Paul stated that the way to ‘be filled (influenced) by the Spirit’ is to sing.
We have found ourselves in stressful times. These are days when sacred song in our hearts is necessary and vital. Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs carries us through the circumstances; to the face of God.
Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength