I’ve a fear that we choke when we should swallow, and swallow when we should spew.
I hope every Christian has had the experience of willfully abstaining from singing some lines of a particular hymn or chorus for conviction’s sake. Not because I want poor songs to be sung, but because they too commonly are. I appreciate many of the lyrics of Paul Baloche’s “Above All.” It begins so well.
Above all powers above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began
Above all kingdoms above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There’s no way to measure
What You’re worth
Christ, supreme and lifted above all. Almost.
Crucified laid behind the stone
You lived to die rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Jesus above all, and then, above Him, me. Huh? With no intention to shame Paul or question his intentions, this is worse than simple self-idolatry. It’s ascribing idolatry to Jesus. Jesus makes it very clear, that though He was thinking of His people as He went to the cross, the thing He thought of above all was His Father. I tremble at the thought of singing and celebrating that Jesus thought of me above His Father. Sadly, many modern songs of worship are full of this kind of sappiness. How many churches are full of zealous worship, of self, inviting God to esteem us above all? In the psalms, God invites us to worship Him, the modern writer has returned the favor, inviting God to worship us.
I wonder, if we began singing the psalms, would we choke on them? “We can’t sing that!” The psalmists had a mature palate. They hungered for God, all of Him, above all. There wasn’t anything of God they found embarrassing or disgusting. They loved the full course of His glory. They sang, praising not only His mercy, but his justice; not only His grace, but His wrath. They tasted God’s every attribute, saw them as being in perfect harmony, and swallowed exclaiming, “Good!” The psalms aren’t a steak with which you can trim away any undesirable fat. When God makes the plate, we must clean it. In the psalms, God invites us to feast on Him, all of Him. In the psalms God taught His people to sing; in them, He teaches us still. Lord, grant us the grace to swallow, and beyond that, to savor.