1 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah (Psalm 66:1–4, NKJV)
Singing is a “joyful shout” to God (James 5:13). All the earth has reason to raise its voice in honor and praise of God’s mighty name. Singing is not whispering, humming, or whistling. It is a full-hearted expression of joyful praise to God. The Scriptures teach Christians to speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). While doing so, we should never forget we are speaking to God with our songs of praise and worship (Ps. 66:3). (1) Worshipful singing is not entertainment. Christ’s New Testament says nothing of choirs performing for an audience. Instead, everyone sings to one another (Eph. 5:19). Worshipful singing is with the spirit and understanding (1 Cor. 14:15). It is not timid and half-hearted. We sing praises to God’s greatness, His righteousness, mercy, love, truth, and justice with fully engaged minds. “For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7). (3) Worshipful singing in the assembly of the saints is a moment of teaching and admonition (Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12). Christians blend their hearts of faith in united songs of praise which instruct, strengthen, and warn us to follow the Lord faithfully. Even as the earth is taught to sing to the Lord, His people lead the way in joyful praise.
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:18–21, NKJV)
Filling oneself with wine (intoxicants) dulls the senses. But, being filled with the Spirit enlivens the heart with thankful songs of praise. Being filled with the Spirit leads Christians 1) To speak to one another in songs of worship. Worshipful singing is not entertainment, but engagement. In it, we communicate teachings and admonitions that are consistent with the word of Christ (Col. 3:16). 2) To sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. We pluck the chords of our hearts to produce musical sounds of grace from our lips. Christians cheerfully sing praises to God from the heart (Jas. 5:13; Heb. 2:12). 3) To give thanks for all things. The Spirit of Christ teaches us to find blessings in everything, even in trials of pain and suffering, for they purge and purify our faith (Matt. 6:10-12; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Pet. 1:6-9). 4) To submit to one another in the fear of God. This submission to each other is not slavery, but service that is activated by a fear of God. Thus, we accentuate the welfare of others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4; 1 Pet. 5:5). Being filled with the Spirit is not a miraculous event. It means to put yourself under the Spirit’s guiding influence by following the truth He revealed (Jno. 16:13).
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. (James 5:13, NKJV)
Prayer and song. This couplet proves comforting and invigorating as we go through life’s storms and life’s calm. Suffering comes in many forms; physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Prayer is a balm for the weary, an assuring strength during times of tumult and uncertainty. And so, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Even as suffering leads to earnest prayer, happy times evoke praise of the Almighty. The Lord is the source of joy that no one can take from us – the joy of victory over sin and death (John 16:20-22, 33). When life brings good fortune, Christians raise up songs of praise to God. We remember that God is the Giver of every good blessing; we did not create our happiness without His good providence. And so, James gives us sound instruction for difficult and happy times. He reminds us to look to God through all of life’s joys and sorrows. The Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He will see you through.
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. (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)
There is a song in the heart when the word of Christ is implanted in the soul. The word of Christ prompts melodious strains of wise instruction which praise God and give counsel against sin. When a heart that is blessed by the word of Christ it sings songs that honor God and favor men. The word of Christ shapes the spiritual mind, which in turn sings joyful praises to God while teaching and admonishing others. “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Psa. 149:1).