In a time when the enemies of Christ seem to be advancing, and the Church seems to be either running for the hills or betraying her Lord, the true saint can often be discouraged and tempted to despair. This is indeed an alluring response to perilous times, but I think we can learn the proper response from one of David’s Psalms.
A real problem has emerged as a result of the “modern worship” movement, and that is that we have mindlessly accepted songs such as this as acceptable for corporate and individual worship in the life of the saints:
Find me here at Your feet again everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance on the wings of forever
I don’t mean to pick on this particular “brand new” worship song, I just recently heard it, and was struck by how lifeless it is in comparison with what we read in the Psalms. In contrast, here are, I would assert, more substantial and helpful truths found in these lines from Psalm 135:
“[God] Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast. Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants. Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings; Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan (Psalm 135:8-11).”
In light of this contrast, is it any wonder that many believer’s spiritual lives are anemic and lack a robust confidence and joy despite the troubles that face us? You see, throughout redemptive history, God’s people have often use worship as a form of taunt; which is what we see in these verses. This Psalm is a worship song that for some 3000 years the saints have sung, and not blushed at the violent, “un-pretty”, “might-offend-someone” lyrics! The Church is helped in troublesome times by remembering what God did to Egypt, and Og and Sihon (two rather gnarly kings of Canaan). They worshiped God in the midst of present troubles, by remembering how God dealt with their enemies in times gone by.
We would do well, in our personal and corporate times of worship to remember, and call to mind, the great power of our God in dealing with the Church’s enemies throughout history. Further, as New Testament believers, we have an even greater promise that God now destroys His enemies by converting them into His friends (which is, after all, what He did with us). Our desire is not the mere destruction of our enemies, but rather that our enemies would be brought out of darkness into the light and love of Almighty God.
However, we ought not to forget that our God will indeed conquer His enemies. Either they will be converted sooner or later, or else they will be judged and condemned at the last day. This truth ought to enrich us as we worship God. In fact, we ought to not let romantic sentimentalism come to dominate and define our worship. Our King is riding forth conquering and to conquer, we follow in His train and ought to sing to our earthly enemies of the coming rule of His Kingdom of Grace and Peace; and we ought to defy our Lord’s most ancient Enemy, that great serpent of old, and make it clear that we do not fear his crumbling kingdom. He is, after all, a defeated foe!
So sing on saints, and defy your enemies and all their stratagems to persecute and undo the Church of our Lord; they shall fail, for Christ has prevailed over all! It would help us, I think, to sing once more the Psalms of David (including the parts we’re tempted to skip over), as well as lines like this from the old hymn “The Church’s One Foundation”:
The Church shall never perish! Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her, And false sons in her pale,
Against both foe or traitor She ever shall prevail.