Each Wednesday we are looking at a Psalm, Summer in the Psalms. Not a Bible study, not a lesson, just a devotional thought. Today, Psalm 40.
Psalm 40 (and Mr. Holland’s Opus)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
4 Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
5 Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened[c]—
burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
9 I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
Music, and singing, and the song have always been close to the heart of God. Some writers suggest that the Genesis story that begins, “And the earth was without form and void” could easily be interpreted “and God sang over it.” God has always been about singing. He chanted the stars into existence, and whistled the birds into the air, hummed in the background while the land was separated from the sea and burst into symphony as Adam rises up from the clay. Singing is interwoven through scripture. In the wilderness, God gives Moses a song and tells Him to teach it to the children if Israel. “Great and mighty are your deeds, O Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways. You delivered us from our enemies, you sustained us in the desert. Who shall not fear the Lord and glorify Your Name?”
At Jericho God tells Joshua to sing and play trumpets until the walls fall down. The psalmist says here in verse 3 that God has put a new song in my heart, a hymn of praise. And the prophet Isaiah says “I will sing for the one I love.” In fact the only time that God doesn’t sing is during the exile when the children of Israel hang their harps in the trees by the river and weep. Elizabeth sings at the birth of John the Baptist. Mary sings at the announcement that she is pregnant with the Messiah. Paul and Silas sing in the prison cell and John says in the Revelation that all creation sings around the throne. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty who was and is and is to come.” God sings,
In my own story, God’s song is central. I was in a clinic in Scottsdale, AZ recovery from an addiction that nearly cost me everything. A nasty old “inmate” came and set next to me and said, “God gave me a verse for you. Zephaniah 3:17, ‘The Lord is mighty. He will deliver you. He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.‘” Having said that, I have never actually heard God sing. I haven’t seen His lips move or literally heard the melody coming from His mouth. But I have heard His songs. Over and over again God has sent me a song at just the right time, usually in the form of a person.
My friend Robert is a song. He is country as can be. Can’t spell a lick. But he loves God and loves me and we have a blast together working on Mr. Tumbles or leading a marriage retreat. He has been an example to me of a life fully sold out to God. Every time Robert walks into the room…God sings.
My grandsons are God’s song to me. When Caleb (who is 2) runs up to me with his arms out saying, “PoppyC, hold you?” that is God singing. When Jon-Mical (all grown up at 14 now) says, “PoppyC, thanks for coming to my ballgame,” God sings.
My sons, my daughters-in-law, so many friends and family, they are all God’s song. And of course, my amazing wife who pats me on the arm and says, “I am so proud of you,” when she has no reason to be, she is God’s song.
If God is the master songwriter, and Christ is the divine singer, then you my friend, you are His song. God uses you to sing into the lives of so many people. You sing when you trust Him. Vs 4 You sing when you decide to obey Him. Vs 8. You sing when you testify of His mercy. Vs 11 You are His melody and His music. You are the notes of His song. Every kind word, every thoughtful deed, every moment of grace that comes from you is really a song from God. And in return, He sings over you.
I love the last scene from my favorite movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Holland wanted to be a musician, to write wonderful orchestra scores but instead, he got stuck being a band director in a high school for 30 years where he was underpaid and under-appreciated. On the day he retired the community planned a secret pep rally in the school auditorium and played, in his honor, the orchestra piece, the opus, that he had been working on for years. One of his students had gone on to become the governor of the state. She introduced the symphony with these words; “Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor has it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong because I think that he has achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.”
My great desire is to be the song of God in someone’s life. And all I have to do it continually remember, “The Lord is great!”