The song of Moses (Exodus 15:1–19) was both declaration and anticipation: it looked back and forward. Within a few hours of singing this masterpiece of praise, however, the Israelites were murmuring! The question that must be asked then is, how many Israelites sang in the congregation that day with no real feeling or sincerity?
We must ask ourselves the same question. Do we sing with the heart or only with the mouth? Is our singing with an engaged mind, a faithful heart, and earnest desire for the God we praise? Meditate on the words of the hymns we so often sing.
I asked the Lord that I might grow In faith, and love, and every grace; Might more of His salvation know, And seek, more earnestly, His face. ’Twas He who taught me thus to pray, And He, I trust, has answered prayer! But it has been in such a way, As almost drove me to despair. I hoped that in some favored hour, At once He’d answer my request; And by His love’s constraining pow’r, Subdue my sins, and give me rest. Instead of this, He made me feel The hidden evils of my heart; And let the angry pow’rs of hell Assault my soul in every part. Yea more, with His own hand He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe; Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, Blasted my gourds, and laid me low. Lord, why is this, I trembling cried, Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death? “’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, “I answer prayer for grace and faith.” “These inward trials I employ, From self, and pride, to set thee free; And break thy schemes of earthly joy, That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”
—John Newton (1725–1807)