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Revelation 5:1 & Exodus 15:1-21 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:52 mins 12 secs

Corporate Worship: Davidic Development; Rev. 5:11

 

1 Chronicles 25:3 NASB "Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun with the harp, who prophesied in giving thanks and praising the LORD." We see another aspect in this concept of prophecy that is related to the singing of hymns. In Chronicles there are also a couple of instances where there were Levitical priests and prophets who were singers and who were also in charge of the music. So there is a connection made with prophecy  and the singing of hymns and praise to God. That immediately challenges our definition of prophecy because most people think prophecy is just saying something about the future, and what we are learning here is that that is a lesser aspect of the whole concept of prophecy.

 

The next major passage that we have on a song of praise is in Judges chapter five. This is the song of Deborah which was an expression of praise to God, an expression of joy. Over and over again in the Psalms when we read about singing to God it is expressed in terms of singing with joy to the Lord because of what he has done. So a key element in singing is that reflection upon what God has done and that because God has acted in our lives in some way to deliver us we can sing with joy. Of course the ultimate way in which God had worked in our lives to deliver us is in salvation because God provided a complete and sufficient salvation for us on the cross. The more we grasp what did on the cross for us the more we ought to exult in our salvation. This is exciting. We are not dead in our trespasses and sins; we are not condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire; we are not left groping in darkness like unbelievers but we have the eternal, absolute truth of God in the Word of God revealed to us so that we can know reality as it is. So the singing of hymns is a response to what God has done in history and what God has done in our lives.

 

Judges 4:2 NASB "And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. [3] The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years. [4] Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time." Deborah is raised up during a time of moral relativism in Israel. [15] Judg 4:15 The LORD routed Sisera and all {his} chariots and all {his} army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from {his} chariot and fled away on foot."

 

Judges 5:1 NASB "Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,…" Did they just suddenly break forth in song? No, it took some time to write the song. It was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but the inspiration of the Holy Spirit isn't dictation. But they wrote this and showed skill in writing. We find in the Psalms that we are to sing skilfully, and the word "skilfully" is a verb form based on the noun tob which means good, and it has the idea of singing that which is pleasing, that which is pleasant, that which is well done, well crafted. It is thought out and it is not something that is just turned out spontaneously.

 

Judges 5:2 NASB "That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the LORD!" The word "bless" is one that is over-used today but it is used as a synonym for praise. So that introduces this song as a praise. They rehearsed what God had done, and that is what praising God means; it doesn't mean to say, "Praise the Lord." The Hebrew word hallelujah is a command. Hallel is the verb, meaning praise. When it is hallelu it is a second person plural meaning "you all praise," and then the last syllable jah is the first syllable of the name of Yahweh. So hallelujah is a command to praise God. But we don't praise God by saying hallelujah or Praise the Lord, we praise God by doing what Deborah and Barak have done in this passage. We rehearse what God has done and look at the details, not just general statements. They have given tremendous thought to what He has done and described it in tremendous detail.

 

Judges 5:4 NASB "LORD, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water. [5] The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel." This is a reference to God bringing the Israelites up into the land. Then there is a rehearsal of what he did in the days of Shamgar. [6] "In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, And travelers went by roundabout ways." But they are not wallowing in self-pity here. In some of the contemporary choruses they get people so focused on their sin and there failure that they are basically wallowing in self-pity. They have lost the concept of the fact that God in His grace has delivered us and paid the penalty for sin. So there is not this self-absorbed walling in their failure on the part of Deborah and Barak, it is a simple rehearsal of the adversity that they went through and the negative volition that had dominated Israel.

Judges 5:19 NASB  "The kings came {and} fought; Then fought the kings of Canaan At Taanach near the waters of Megiddo; They took no plunder in silver. [20] "The stars fought from heaven, From their courses they fought against Sisera." The term "stars" here is an allusion to the angels which locates this battle within the framework of the angelic conflict. [21] "The torrent of Kishon swept them away, The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. O my soul, march on with strength. . . .  [24] "Most blessed of women is Jael, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Most blessed is she of women in the tent. . . [26] She reached out her hand for the tent peg, And her right hand for the workmen's hammer. Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head; And she shattered and pierced his temple." She overpowered him with hospitality and then killed him.

The point is that so much of what passes for Christian music today is so anaemic compared to the rich content that we have in these biblical songs.

Seven observations about this song that apply to any good hymn

1.  It is God-centred. It is not about Deborah, her feelings, her focus on her anxiety level, in terms of the fact that they might have been overpowered by the 900 chariots. The focus is not on man but upon God and what He did; it is theocentric.

2.  It is a hymn of joy. They are exulting and having a party and celebrating, and celebration is another word that is a synonym for worship. It is a celebration of the grace of God because of the victory that he has given them. Do they deserve it? No, they don't, but God has given it to them in His grace.

3.  It is a new song. Why? Because God has acted in history in a new way, and because God has acted in a new way they are going to compose a new song to commemorate it so that this song can be sung down through the generations, and the generations that live some 3-400 years later, a thousand years later, 2000 years later, will sing this song and will have a connection through the centuries to the events that occurred in Judges chapter five. The reason for making that point is because what is happening today in a lot of contemporary Christianity is the rejection out of hand good traditional hymns, and there is this temporal arrogance that says that is old, this is new. When we quit singing the hymns of Martin Luther, Isaac watts, the Wesleys and others of centuries ago, what we do is take the current generation and cut them off from the historical body of Christ, and from the generations that have gone before and the songs that they sang in praise to God. It creates this kind of temporal arrogance that somehow we have a new greater spirituality and that what God is doing to us is superior to what he did in the past, and it isolates the present generation from the works of God in history. That is just counter of everything that the Bible says. These songs are designed to be sung down through the centuries so that we remember all of the things that God has done and how He has acted in history.

4.  The focus is not on the misery, the sorrow or the guilt of Israel related to their previous disobedience. The focus is on the provision of God.

5.  It is well-crafted poetry. The lyrics are written well. If they are taken away from the music and we just read the lyrics we are impressed with the quality of the poetry. It stands alone. Any good lyrics for any good hymn should be able to stand alone as good poetry.

6.  The word translated "sing" in verse 12 is the Hebrew word dabar basically means "word"; it can also mean a matter, a thing, a concept. Here it has the idea of singing because of the context.

7.  The theme of the song is to rehearse specifically on how God has delivered His people. So they can think precisely about what God has done. If we think about the better hymns that we sing the vocabulary that is used guides our thinking to think precisely about what God has done in our salvation, how God specifically works in the lives of people.

Application

1.  Hymns should be theocentric and no anthropocentric. It is not focusing on me and my misery, it is focusing on God and what he has done. Even in the lament psalms when David us talking about how miserable he is because of his sin, it is simply to set up the praise section and the focus on God. He is not wallowing in self-pity.

2.  The lyrics should be well crafted.

3.  The content of the hymn is to cause the singer to think outside of himself, beyond the things that happened yesterday, the challenges at work, the people who are gossiping about him, and other problems, and to focus our thinking on the character of God, the grace of God, the work of God in history, and to focus on Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Te purpose has to do with helping us direct our thinking, and when we sing they should be a prelude to the study of God's Word. In singing it begins to take our attention away from the cares and the distractions of life and to focus on the God who is above the cares and the distractions of our life and who has provided us with the eternal solutions. So the focus of worship, then, is always on God. 

Illustrations