There are many kinds of songs and genres, and it hit me that the kinds of songs we learn can mimic the kind of life we live. Not always, of course, but consider these kinds of songs from the Bible (not exhaustive):
The Good Kind
- Songs of excitement and joy (Gen 31:27, 1 Chr 13:8, Ps 47:1, Ps 68:4, Ps 107:22)
- Songs of triumph/victory (Ex 15:1-2, Judges 5:12, 1 Sam 18:6, 2 Sam 6:5)
- Songs to teach/remember (Deut 31, Eph 5:19)
- Songs to express deliverance (2 Sam 22:1, Ps 118:14-15, Is 26:1)
- Songs to express thanks (Neh 12:46, Ps 28:7, Jer 30:19, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16)
- Songs as a prayer (Ps 42:8)
- Marriage Songs (Ps 78:63)
- Love songs (Is 5:1, Song of Solomon)
The Not-So-Good Kind
- Songs to ridicule (Job 30:9, Ps 137:3)
- “Oh, Bless your heart, honey, don’t Worry!” songs (Prov 25:20)
- Song of fools (Eccl 7:5)
- Fearful songs (Eccl 12:4-5)
- The silent song: a “used-to-be-a-song” void (Is 16:10, Ezek 26:13)
- Song of the prostitute (Is 23:15)
- Song of the ruthless (Is 25:5)
- Lustful songs (Ezek 33:32)
- That’s “noise,” not “song” (Amos 5:23)
- Idle songs (Amos 6:5)
- Taunt songs (Micah 2:4)
- Drunken songs (Ps 69:12)
[Yikes. Didn’t know all those were there, too]
The “New Song”
There is another category in Scripture – the “new song.” I’ve often wondered what this is, but when you consider the not-so-good kind of songs above, it begins to make a little more sense.
Here are a several represented in Scripture:
They all speak of singing a “new song” to the Lord. Psalm 144 is one of David’s songs. This one is popular because he asks a great question:
“What is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?”
That is a great question. He knows his true condition: “like a breath” (v. 4), and calls on God to come in all His glory (vv. 5-6) that he might be rescued from many waters, and from foreigners (v. 7). He doesn’t describe “many waters,” but he does define foreigners in verse 8:
“…whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.”
These people sung the not-so-good kind of songs.
To contrast, David immediately adds, I [on the other hand] will sing a new song to you, O God.
That is, I will not sing those not-so-good kind of songs like the foreigners do. They are foreign to Your goodness. They are foreign to Your love. They are foreign to Your people.
They live the kind of song they sing.
The Old and the New
To sing a new song is to live a different life. To sing a new song is to have a new hope. To sing a new song is to offer words of wisdom and grace.
A new song “befits the upright” (Ps 33:1), “for the word of the Lord is upright” (Ps 33:4).
In other words, it implies a new authority.
Romans 6, Ephesians 4, and Colossians 3 all talk about the “Old Self” versus the “New Self.” We have been given one in place of the other.
Old song out.
New song in…so live according to the new song.
Paul could have said “new song” in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You will die for singing the old song, but in Christ Jesus, we have been given a new, eternal, song.
It is this kind of song we now sing: eternal life.
Right. The good kind.
What does this have to do with real music, and lessons and stuff?
I’m glad you asked. If you have been given a new song, remember that it takes time to really learn to sing it loud and proud. It takes time to play it well, right?
I mean, name one skill in your life that you mastered immediately. If your new life is like a new song to sing or play, we should be okay with taking time to master it as well, right?
The song is in our heart, yes, but God is still working out what He has put in (Phil 1:12-13). Speaking of Philippians 1, read the context (vv. 12-18). The point is that, like Psalm 33, we shine as we hold fast to the Word. We have to be reminded to not sing the old song: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” he says (v. 14).
So playing a real, audible song on an instrument takes time. One cannot master it immediately. Students have to be reminded of what the song doesn’t sound like.
Over time, I want to offer this kind of lesson to my students.
Casting Crowns has a song called “Lifesong” that I really like. I think they’re saying the same thing. Here’s a little part of it:
So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you
Music lessons are not just another subject to cover in school, or a good thing to do because someone said you should. They are life lessons. They help answer the question, “How should I live my life?”
A Christian music teacher has the amazing opportunity to listen well and say, “Let me help you love the Great Musician and play His song well. Let’s take your instrument now and learn to adorn the air with the life of a beautifully played song – one that conforms to the beautiful boundaries set by our wonderful Creator.”
Cacophony existed before the world was formed. Unity and harmony after.
Let’s learn to play music that conforms to the latter – music that blesses.
Sin has caused cacophonous chaos. God has granted glorious grace to continue to move from the old to the new.
Let’s play with style and grace, and not settle with chaos.