Although there are countless ways we can worship God, He has given us music and directed us to sing to Him. In fact, there are over 40 commands to sing in Scripture. There is no sweeter time in the life of the church than when the body is gathered together in corporate worship. As we sing God’s truth, hear His Word preached, pray together, and partake in the sacraments, we are being formed in the image of Christ.
While the reasons behind some of the elements of our Sunday morning services are more obvious to us in our cultural context, the command to sing may come as a mystery to some. Although there are many more benefits that can result from our singing, here is a list of 5 of them:
1. We Delight in God
(Ps. 27:4; 16:11; 73:25; 84:10; Acts 2:46; Luke 24:52-53)
“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.” — Martin Luther
The aim of our worship, first and foremost, should always be to glorify God. Music has the unique ability to bind the truths of the gospel to our hearts. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Paul says, “I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” In our singing, we delight in the beauty and majesty of God, and the finished work of Christ on the cross on our behalf.
I love my wife, but it is not enough for me to merely affirm that in my mind, or even tell her that with my lips. Unless my love for her is rooted deep in my heart, the words I speak will always come out sounding hollow. Our corporate worship through singing should stir our emotions, as the truths we know about God are fastened to our hearts, where we express the love we have for God.
2. God Delights in Us
(Gen 1:31, Isa. 62:3-5, Zeph. 3:17)
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
Although our singing is in no way about us, God does delight in us when we worship Him rightly. We worship many different things in this world when we value them above God. Even good things, when wrongly worshiped, can be dangerous. Just as a father takes pleasure in his children when they obey him, so too God rejoices in us when we glorify Him alone. In our singing, we assert that Christ is more valuable than anything this world has to offer.
3. We Draw Near To God
(Heb. 4:16; 9:1-7; 10:19, 22; 12:18-24, 28-29)
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Hebrews 10 tells us that though we were once alienated from God because of our sin, we now have direct access to God’s throne through Christ. The King of the universe, who created us, and everything we see around us, is inviting us into His presence. This should cause us to come into His courts with praise, thanksgiving and reverence before our holy God.
4. God Draws Near to Us
(James 4:8, 2 Chron. 5:13-14, Ps. 22:3)
Although God is ubiquitous, there are examples in Scripture that teach us that God does “draw near” to His people. As we affirm the truths of Scripture, God’s character, and Christ’s victory in our hearts through singing, the nearness of who God is becomes more palpable in our lives. We can sense God’s presence in a greater way when we sing truths about who He is.
5. The Outside World Watches
“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” — Timothy J. Keller
A worshiping church is a testimony to a watching world. In a culture filled with fake news, lies, and deceit, everyone is searching for truth and authenticity. Paul tells us that in our right worship of God an unchurched person will “declare that God is really among you.” (1 Cor. 14:25) I guarantee you that every Sunday there are unbelievers in our midst who are watching us. They want to know if we, as Christians, really believe in what we say we believe in. With this in mind, author Matt Papa asks us, “Church: if the world could see a snapshot of our worship today, would they perceive that we believe our God is worthy of praise?”