While studying Ephesians the other night I came across the scripture passage that talks about not being drunk with wine, but instead being filled with The Spirit…
Ephesians 5:17-20 says,
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (18)And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, (19) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; (20)always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.
John Piper (quoting Ralph Martin in his book called Worship in the Early Church) says that “The Christian Church was born in song.” In a great post about our collective worship, Piper says that “The reality of God and Christ and creation and salvation and heaven and hell are simply too great for mere speaking; they must be sung.”
2 thoughts come to mind when reading through these quotes:
1) there is an understanding component to expressing God’s glory.
2) there is an emotional component to expressing God’s glory.
Understanding comes when we are taught and when we grasp God’s truths. But the emotional depth of FEELING God’s glories comes from the heart, and not the mind. One of the best ways this is expressed is through singing.
Piper says, “The reason we sing is because there are depths and heights and intensities and kinds of emotion that will not be satisfactorily expressed by mere prosaic forms, or even poetic readings. There are realities that demand to break out of prose into poetry and some demand that poetry be stretched into song.”
Music and singing have been and will be central to the Christian faith because the truths of God, like salvation, mercy, grace, faithfulness, and sacrifice demand much more than just thoughtful analysis.
The heart bubbles up a in form of praise called tehillah. It’s this spontaneous, heart-felt praise that goes beyond the thinking and analysis of the mind. Tehillah is the singing that helps us express the enjoyment of God’s truths. It’s a deep, emotion driven praise that complements the mind’s expression.
Singing and making music to The Lord from our hearts is just as important as being taught and learning about God’s truths. Piper says, “the work of the heart (the emotions) is as important for reflecting the glory of God as the work of the head (understanding) is…”
Just know the next time you feel that psalm, hymn, or spiritual song bubbling up from your heart, even if you can’t explain it, that expressing the reflection of God’s glory through singing and melodies is a wonderfully biblical and Godly thing!
Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.