Friday, September 28, 2007

2 Chronicles 20:21-22

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

A couple of thoughts:
  1. "Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD..."–I took a quick survey in all three of my choirs yesterday to see if their congregations had any controversy with either women being choir directors or women being in their church choirs. I even asked if their was any talk that women shouldn't organists in their churches. Thankfully, it seems this misapplication of scripture has died down, at least in our area, or my students are oblivious to it.
  2. " they went out at the head of the army"–this reminded me of what Henry V told his army to do after they defeated the French in the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years' War. Henry V, according to William Shakespeare, told his troops to sing "Non nobis" (Not to us--Ps. 115) and "Te Deum" (To you, O God) after they routed the French, having been outnumbered 10 to 1.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2 Chronicles 5:13

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
"He is good;
his love endures forever."
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud,

Whoa! A new instrument! Up until this point, singing in the temple has been accompanied by harps, lyres, and cymbals. Now, the trumpet is introduced into worship, and not just as an accompaniment instrument, but in unison with the singers, as with one voice (hmm…the title of Augsburg Fortress's hymnal supplement, With One Voice).

Don’t picture a modern orchestral trumpet. Picture a shofar, a ram’s horn. No valves, no yards of tubing, just a hollowed out ram’s horn. If you have ever tried to play a modern trumpet (or any brass instrument for that matter) without using any valves, just using the buzzing of your lips and the tightening of your embouchure to play the scale, then you know that either you have to be a really good trumpeter to play a scale without valves, or you won’t be playing many notes—you’ll just sound like a person at a parade or ball game with a plastic trumpet just making a lot of noise.

It really makes you wonder what the melody of the singing was like if it was accompanied by a ram’s horn that had no valves and couldn’t play many notes of the harmonic overtone series.

But getting past the physics of the instrument and the shape of the melody, what is going on in this passage? All the musicians of the temple are joining together to give praise and thanks to YHWH, the God of the Promise, for allowing the the Ark of the Covenant to return to Jerusalem. And do the words of the song sound familiar? Many Christians say these words as part of their after meal prayers (“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Amen.”)

And was God pleased or what!?! His glory filled the temple, just like He led the Children of Israel with the pillar of cloud through the exodus and wandering in the wilderness. Isaiah talks about the same cloud filling the temple and Martin Luther penned this picture into his hymn Isaiah, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old.

So what is the singing application for us?

1. Praise God with instruments and singing together (believe it or not, in the desk of my first teacher’s desk, was a pamphlet explaining why instruments should NOT be used in worship!).
2. Raise your voice to the LORD (to me, that implies volume, more than normal)
3. Sing of God’s goodness and love (i.e. tell why you are praising him—what has he done for you?)

Shofar Sounders Webpage
Strong's H7782 "trumpet" vs. H2689 "trumpets"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

1 Chronicles 25:1

1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service:

Monday, September 24, 2007


A word needs to be said about the use of the word "LORD". I'll admit it. I frequently forget why this name for God is printed in all capital letters. I usually think in my mind "God" when I read "LORD", but then I miss the special nuance of this name of God.

According to the Preface to the New International Version, page xi, of the Concordia Self-Study Bible, ©1986:
"In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as "LORD" in capital letters to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word rendered "Lord," for which small letters are used."
The name LORD (Hebrew "Yahweh") is first used in Genesis 2:4, where it reminds the reader that God is a personal God and the God of the covenant. In Exodus 3:15 it is the name that God told Moses to say to the Israelites when he revealed himself at the burning bush. The notes in my Bible for Ex. 3:15 say:
"The Hebrew for this name is Yahweh (often incorrectly spelled "Jehovah"; see note on Dt 28:58). It means "He is" or "He will be" and is the third-person form of the verb translated "I will be" in v. 12 and "I AM" in v. 14. When God speaks of himself he says, "I AM," and when we speak of him we say, "He is."

Just think this when you read "LORD": this is the name for God who promised to send a savior for all the world. For a listing of every reference to the name "YHWH" in the Bible, click here.

1 Chronicles 16:33

33 Then the trees of the forest will sing,
they will sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

There are two strange things in this passage, at least strange on first glance.
  1. Trees don't sing! So why they are singing?
  2. The LORD is coming to judge the earth (which for many people seems to be a scary thought)
(Notice the similarities to the following two passages: Psalm 96:12, Isaiah 44:23)

Why are trees described as singing? Everything that God created praises him. Can you make a tree? No. Can you create anything that has not already been created? No. If you can't do it, but God did do it, then just looking at the trees reminds us to praise God for his wonderful creation.

Why are the trees singing if the LORD (the God of the promise) is coming to judge the earth? Why aren't they terrified? But isn't this really what we all wait for--the end of sorrow and death and pain? Don't we all want to be in perfection and not have to deal with the "drama" of this life? Even the trees are waiting to be released from their groaning.

So what about us? God created us--we should sing to him and praise his name just like the trees and all creation does. Does the thought of the Creator coming to judge the earth scare you? It scares me. I don't want everyone to know all the sins I've committed. And I surely don't want to go to hell and be separated from God for all eternity.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Friday, September 21, 2007

1 Chronicles 16:23

23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

Does it get any more clear than this?

Q1. Who do you sing to? A: the LORD

Q2. Who should sing to the LORD? A: all the earth

Q3. What should we sing? A: proclaim his salvation (e.g. tell people how God has saved them from sin, death, and the devil)

Q4. How often should we sing? A: day after day

Any questions?

Manitowoc Lutheran Plans New Music Center

God's blessings are everywhere. It's just nice to keep getting good news from around our synod.

This morning I got an email from my college classmate, Joel Ungemach, who is the choir director at Manitowoc Lutheran High School in Manitowoc, WI. He sent me a link to the local newspaper's front page story on the plans for MLHS's new music center. Read the story and help me rejoice in God's blessings on Manitowoc Lutheran's music program!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

1 Chronicles 16:9

9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

To whom? Him!

Who is "him"? The Triune God

What should we sing to him? Praise!

What should we tell? God's wonderful acts

What are God's wonderful acts?
  1. He created all things out of nothing by speaking.
  2. Even though we rebelled against him, he has a plan of salvation for all people.
  3. He allowed his son, Jesus (God's son), to become like us (Mary's son) so that he could perfectly live our life and perfectly die our death.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

1 Chronicles 15:27

27 Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod.

The ephod was a sleeveless vestment worn by the high priest. In this verse, King David, who is not the high priest, nor was he a Levite, was wearing the ephod and a robe of fine linen. The Levites and the choir director were also clothed in linen robes. What does all this signify?

  1. David was a shadow of Christ (OT prophet, priest, and king)
  2. The Levites were doing the work of the Lord (and were dressed like it)
  3. The choir director (Kenaniah) was also a religious leader, clothed like a priest, because he was also leading worship since he was in charge of the singing of the choirs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Way to go ALA!

Prepare for goosebumps! Click here for a video of the Arizona Lutheran Academy choir singing the National Anthem at the AZ Diamondbacks Baseball Game on Sept. 7th. The choir is directed by a good friend of mine, Jon Pasbrig. Outstanding job!

You will be redirected to Motionbox and will need Adobe's Flash Player to view the video.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1 Chronicles 15:16 & 15:22

16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.

This just makes sense to me. My brother is a pastor. I am a church musician. That's how it was in this passage too. The Levites were the priests in the temple and their brothers were the church musicians. The only difference between this setup and my family is my brother didn't appoint me to be a musician, God prepared me to be a church musician through a lot of encourgement by my parents.

Here's how the chapter goes on:

19 The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth , 21 and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith . 22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.

Wouldn't you just like to hear what that sounded like? Crashing cymbals, strumming harps and lyres, and skillful singers. It's not exactly a pipe organ, a piano, the trumpets of Easter, or even a praise band. But it's the music that God wanted in his temple.

There's just one phrase which keeps popping out at me in this passage: "because he was skillful at it." God gives talents to all of us, even musical talents. But it's up to us to use those talents for his glory. If God gave you five talents of singing ability and you chose not to use those talents, you'd be in danger of those talents being squandered just like what happened in the Parable of the Talents. But if God gave you two talents of musical ability and you used them faithfully, He promises to give you even more.

What does that have to do with the phrase "because he was skillful at it"? We need to cultivate and encourage the musical gifts that God has given to his children. We should not expect those musical talents to grow by themselves. We need to teach children how to sing and play instruments at every age and grade level so that it can be said of those same children that they are "skillful" at it. And then the music of worship will be as close to the music of heaven as we can approach on this earth.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You're the Top!

Cole Porter wrote this timeless classic for the 1934 Broadway musical "Anything Goes". I first heard in when I was a boy growing up in East Troy, WI. Every week, our family would sit down together on Monday nights (I think it was Mondays?) to watch M*A*S*H together while it was still in prime time. I never knew the rest of "You're the Top" until this year when I started researching the music of Cole Porter for my choirs' Fall concert. It's an amazing snapshot of history, piling up the "tops" of the day. The question: what made all these things the best? Click on the links below the M*A*S*H video to find out! (under construction)

If you click on the middle of the video, you will be taken to YouTube. If you click on the play button in the lower left corner, you will play the video in this window.

You're The Top

At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Colosseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louvre Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I'll second the motion
And this is what I'm going to add;

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar,
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,
You're Whistler's mama!
You're camembert.
You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante,
You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way,
As the French would say, "de trop".
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too diveen,
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats,
You're Shelly!
You're Ovaltine!
You're a boon,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder,
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P.
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master,
You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants on a Roxy usher,
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Britt & Alyssa Sing the Star Spangled Banner

There are so many reasons why I am proud of my kids, but chief among them is singing in front of large crowds without any accompaniment. You could add to that practicing really hard, composing their own alto line, and taking time out of their school day to sing for me many times and get my advice. I am very proud of Britt and Alyssa. Way to go, girls!

This performance was for the WLA vs. Mayville varsity football game, September 14, 2007.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Help find Steve Fossett

UPDATE (9/18): CNN reports searches for Steve Fossett scaled back.

Every Saturday morning I like to listen to the Kim Komando radio show on KFIZ 1450 AM, Fond du Lac, WI. Even though I am a Mac addict, I like to hear what is going on in the digital world on the PC side (I know, the "dark side"!) and frequently pick up tips that I never knew.

Today, I got an email from the Kim Komando show (copied below) which listed their cool site of the day, but this is more urgent than cool. Kim's Cool Site of the Day is Amazon's Mechanical Turk. I had never heard of it before, but quickly realized its importance in helping find this veteran aviation adventurer. If you have the time and the ability, you might help either save his life, or help his family find him and his plane wreckage.

Email from Kim Komando:

If you read the news, you know about the search for Steve Fossett. The adventurer and his aircraft disappeared about two weeks ago.

Fossett did not file a flight plan. So rescuers are unsure where to look for him. But he is believed to be in southwestern Nevada.

Fossett’s friends and family are asking for your help. No, they don’t need you to fly to Nevada for a ground search.

Rather, they’re asking that you help review satellite images. Google has gathered recent images. Hopefully, Fossett’s plane will appear in one.

To get involved, visit Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site. It will present you with images to review. If you see something, simply flag the image and leave a comment.

You’ll need to register in order to help out.

Help Find Steve Fossett

1st Quarter Progress Reports

All three choirs will sing for their progress report grade next Monday and Tuesday. Students who have a practice time at school during blocks 1, 2, 5, or 8 may sing individually with me for their grade. All other students will have to sing during class on Monday, Sep. 17 and Tuesday, Sep. 18. Progress Report Day is Wednesday, Sep. 19.

Students should be prepared to sing the following songs:

Traveling Choir:
  • Witness, pp. 2-3
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 11-61
  • O Christ the Same, pp. 2-6
  • This Little Light of Mine, all
Viking Choir:
  • The Star Spangled Banner (parts)
  • You're the Top (men, v. 1 & refrain 1; women v. 2 & refrain 2)
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 61-84
  • O Love of God, How Strong and True, vv. 3-4
Freshman Choir:
  • The Star Spangled Banner (unison)
  • You're the Top (men, v. 1 & refrain 1; women v. 2 & refrain 2)
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 1-61
  • O Love of God, How Strong and True, vv. 3-4

2007-2008 Section leaders

Congratulations to the following students who were elected by their peers to serve as section leaders in their choirs:

Traveling Choir
S1-Nikki Knuth, S2-Val Cousins, A1-Britt Kerr, A2-Jeanna Zuelke, T1-Joe Wege, T2-Josh Wege, B1-Luther Zuberbier, B2-Ben Christian

Viking Choir
Sopranos: Beth Geisthardt & Janeen Leisses
Altos: Grace Pahmeier & Ashley Freund
Basses: Jason Markgraf & Josh Lauersdorf

Section leaders are students who
  1. know their part well enough to help out anyone else in their section,
  2. have the respect of their peers, and
  3. can serve as a liaison between the section and the director

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2 Samuel 22:50

50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.


It makes you wonder what came before this passage, doesn't it? If you know what came before this passage, then you know why the writer by inspiration says "I will sing praises to your name." Here is what comes before this verse:
"The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts the nations under me,

49 who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent men you rescued me.

God did all those things for David, that's why he praised Him. So what has God done for you? Has he avenged you? Has he freed you from your enemies? Has he exalted you above your foes? Has he rescued you from violent men? Maybe. Or maybe not. He did that for David.

Has he given you health? Friends? Food? Clothes? A job? Children? A Family? Gifts? Abilities? Talents? Should I continue? Isn't it obvious?

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2 Samuel 19:35

35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?

Who is speaking? Barzillai the Gileadite (a very wealthy man)

What had he done for King David? He provided for King David during his stay in Mahanaim when David was fleeing from his son Absalom

Where was he from? Rogelim, in Gilead, east of the Jordan River
Where did this account take place? In Gilgal

When did this account take place? After the death of Absalom (2 Sam 18), during the reign of King David (1010-970 BC)

How did he get there?

Why is he asking these questions?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1 Samuel 21:11

11 But the servants of Achish said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances:
" 'Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands'?"

David has been on the run. Saul, though still the king of Israel, was afraid of David and wanted him dead because he, Saul, knew that the LORD had left him and was now with David. And it didn't help that the women's song taunted him even more.

The people of Israel could see that David was being lead by the LORD, but Saul didn't want to believe it. David, the boy who once had killed Goliath in the Valley of Elah and who helped sooth Saul's evil spirits by playing his harp, had also become good friends–lifelong, sworn friends–with Saul's son, Jonathan. Everything reminded Saul that the LORD was no longer with him. Saul tried to fight his own battle and get rid of David by throwing spears at him in the temple, but to no avail. But David knew the time had come to flee for his life.

He went to Nob, a town NE of Jerusalem and S of Gibeah where the tabernacle was relocated after the destruction of Shiloh. While on the run, he needed food, and asked Ahimelech the priest for the showbread from the table in the tabernacle. He also needed a weapon, and Ahimelech gave him Goliath's sword, which David had once taken from Goliath after he killed him with his slingshot and used to cut off Goliath's own head.

Did David ask the women to sing for him? No. Did David give himself the honor and glory for defeating Goliath? No. Did he look for the glory? No. But God let the women sing his glory and praises. God will do the same thing for us if we are humble. God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the lowly.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

1 Samuel 18:6

6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.

In the previous chapter, David killed Goliath, the giant of the Philistine army. Little David–the boy who was left at home when his brothers went off to war. Little David–too small to wear the heavy armor of the Israelite army. Little David–braver than any other soldier in Israel. Little David–not the person that anyone (except the prophet Samuel) expected to amount to anything. Little David–who chose to go into battle with a rock and a slingshot rather than a sword. That little David killed the most fearsome fighter in the Philistine army.

So in today's verse, when it says "after David had killed the Philistine", it's referring to Goliath. And you can understand why the women came out to sing and dance: no one else in all of Israel wanted to fight Goliath, nor thought that they could kill him. The entire army sat on their hands for 40 days while Goliath taunted them.

Sometimes our enemies seem larger than life. Sometimes our battles seem hopelessly futile. We think we can't do anything to change the situation we are in. But we've got an improbable ally who fights for us–someone who most people wouldn't expect to fight our battles and win. It's God. The same God who helped David defeat Goliath fights for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? Paul Gerhardt wrote a hymn (TLH 528) on this same topic.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Judges 5:11

11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
They recite the righteous acts of the LORD,
the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel.
"Then the people of the LORD
went down to the city gates.

This passage is imbedded in the middle of the Song of Deborah. It give us a couple of insights into why we sing:
  1. "the voice of the singers at the watering places"–what did people do when they were getting water for their animals (i.e. hanging out and waiting around)? They sang! What did they sing about?
  2. They sang about what God had done for them (the righteous acts of the LORD) and what he had done through them (the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel)
Now for a modern application question: What should we sing about in church? What kind of hymns should a congregation sing? What kind of songs should a choir sing? What kind of hymns should a hymnal publish? Judges 5:11 once again gives us some insights:
  1. We should sing about what God has done for us and tell His story in hymn and song, and
  2. We should sing about the righteous acts God has done through us.
If all a hymn or song does is repeat "praise God" over and over and over again and never says what we should be praising Him for, we are not reciting the righteous acts of the LORD. We are not telling why God should be praised. We are, at best, a clanging gong or a crashing cymbal.

If all a hymn or song does is to say how we feel about God but never points our attention and understanding back to God, then we are only praising ourselves.

An example of a hymn which tells of God's righteous acts:
I'd love to hear your examples of hymns and songs which "recite the righteous acts of the LORD" and hymns and songs which tell of the righteous acts God has done through us.

UPDATE: You no longer need a Google Account to post a comment to my choir blog. The new due date for posting a comment is Friday, Sep. 14, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Judges 5:3

3 "Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to the LORD, the God of Israel.

The Children of Israel, led by Joshua, crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land in 1406 BC. Led by the LORD, they drove out many great and powerful nations and were now, finally, at rest. After Joshua's death, however, the Children of Israel quickly seemed to forget to do everything God had commanded them, even though under Joshua, they were gung ho to follow God and Joshua. Tribe after tribe did not drive out the Canaanites completely, which angered the LORD so much that he sent the angel of the LORD to deliver the horrible news that He would not drive out the Canaanites for them anymore. They, the Canaanites, would be thorns in their sides and their gods would be a snare to the Children of Israel.

A generation passed. And the next generation grew up not knowing the LORD or what He had done for Israel. All of Israel did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. In His anger, God handed them over to raiders, let them be plundered, sold them to enemies, and made sure they were defeated. What an awful place it is to Have God working against you.

But God still had compassion. He raised up judges to save them from the raiders. While the Judges lived, God blessed the Children of Israel. But after the Judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways and followed the false gods of the Canaanites. This cycle continued for 325 years during the period of the Judges (1375-1050 BC). The twelve Judges of Israel are as follows:
  1. Othniel
  2. Ehud
  3. Shamgar (minor)
  4. Deborah
  5. Gideon
  6. Tola (minor)
  7. Jair (minor)
  8. Jephthah
  9. Ibzan (minor)
  10. Elon (minor)
  11. Abdon (minor)
  12. Samson
In today's "sing" reading (Judges 5:3) the Children of Israel had fallen into the hands of Jabin, the King of Canaan, and the commander of his army, Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots. Deborah, a prophetess, was leading Israel at that time (1209-1169 BC). Deborah delivered this message to Barak (whose name means "thunderbolt" and who is named among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32): "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' " But Barak was a typical guy and said he would only do it if Deborah went with him. She reluctantly agreed, but she told him that the honor of the victory would be hers because of the way he was acting.

God gave the Canaanite army into the hands of Barak. All the troups of Sisera fell by the sword. Not a man was left–except Sisera himself, who fled on foot to an ally's tent. There he asked to be hidden, which Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, was all too eager to do. She not only hid him in her tent, but let him fall asleep there as well. While he was sleeping, she drove a tent peg through his temple with a hammer. Jael found Barak and showed him that she had killed Sisera for him.

The Song of Deborah that is recorded in Judges 5 serves two purposes:
  1. It is a record of the battle of Deborah and Barak vs. Sisera, and
  2. It recites "the righteous acts of the LORD."
Isn't that why God gave us the ability to sing? To praise him with our voices and to remember what He has done for us?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Deuteronomy 31:19

19 "Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.

Can a song be as important as a person's life?

The Children of Israel had finally reached the Promised Land. They were just about ready to cross over into it as Moses gave his final words of advice to them and to their new leader, Joshua. Some very important and amazing facts are recorded by God in Deuteronomy 31:
  1. Moses was 120 years old (v. 2)
  2. God told Moses he would not cross over the Jordan River to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. (v. 2)
  3. Joshua would be their new leader across the Jordan River. (v. 3)
  4. God would deliver them from any opposing kings and armies if they did all that God commanded them to do. (vv. 4-5)
  5. Moses told both the Children of Israel and Joshua to be strong and courageous because "the Lord himself" would go before them and be with them. (vv.6-7)
  6. Moses wrote down the law that God gave to him on Mt. Sinai and gave it to the priests and Levites (v. 9)
  7. Moses commanded the priests and Levites to read the entire law to all Israel (men, women, children, and aliens) every seven years when they all assemble during the Feast of Tabernacles (vv. 10-11)
  8. God predicted that the Children of Israel would fall away from Him after they entered the Promised Land (vv. 16-17)
  9. God wanted Moses to teach the Children of Israel a song that would not be forgotten by their descendants (v. 21) to be a witnesss against them (v. 19) and testify against them (v. 21) when they do reject Him and break His covenant (v. 20) in the Promised Land.
So what is this powerful song? The Song of Moses.

Read Deuteronomy 32 and think of every Bible story that you have been taught about the Children of Israel in the Promised Land. They didn't follow God's commands. They did as they saw fit. They worshiped false gods. They intermarried with the heathen. They didn't do all–ALL–that God commanded them to do. And the Song of Moses bears witness against them because it is God's prediction of their falling away, even before it happened.

Why don't we sing this song anymore? Why don't we read and teach God's Word from cover to cover, but instead pick and choose passages throughout the Bible, which are by themselves important, but, if only taken by themselves, lead to a confusion of the interconnectedness of God's story from beginning to end.

Why do we sing? To remember God's Words from generation to generation.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Numbers 21:17

17 Then Israel sang this song:
"Spring up, O well!
Sing about it,..."

The Children of Israel have been traveling through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land. A couple of verses earlier in Numbers 21 they were complaining again about the lack of food and water, so God taught them a lesson–He sent venomous snakes. The Israelites pleaded with Moses to pray to God to take the snakes away, and God answered their prayer with one of the most beautiful foreshadowings of Jesus in the Old Testament. God told Moses to put a bronze snake on a pole. Anyone who had been bitten by a poisonous snake and looked at the bronke snake on the pole would live.

We are the Children of Israel. We grumble and complain while we wander in the wilderness of this life--our lifelong march to our Promised Land, Heaven. We are constantly being bitten by the poisonous snake of sin and we are in sore need of a medicine that heals. Where does our help come from? Jesus is our bronze snake. My question? Why is the bronze serpent the foreshadowing of Christ? Why did God tell Moses to put a snake on the pole? A snake! The serpent in the Garden of Eden was the embodiment of the Devil. Why not put a lamb on the pole?

But today's verse comes after this well-known Bible story. The Children of Israel were moving north and were again in need of water. And just like a loving father gives his kids what they need when they need it, God told Moses to gather the people together and He would give them water. So the Children of Israel sang about it.

It seems strange that they didn't praise God in their song–they only praised the princes and nobles who dug the well. But isn't that the way we look at events in this life? We forget to thank God for His blessings, instead we praise (or curse) the water company who brings us the water. We are SO MUCH like the Children of Israel!