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The Scriptorium

A Song for the Nations

Maybe if we sing they'll listen? Psalm 49.1-4

Antidote to Vanity and Death (1)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 49.3, 4, 15
My mouth shall speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will disclose my dark saying on the harp…
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me.
Selah

Sing Psalm 49.1-6, 15
(Sagina: And Can It Be, That I Should Gain)
Hear this, you peoples, low and high; give ear as wisdom I proclaim:
My heart with understanding fills to hear and sing my Savior’s fame.
Why should I fear when foes arise, who trust in wealth and boast in lies?
Refrain v. 15
My God redeems my soul from hell!
His grace and mercy let me tell!

Read Psalm 49, meditate on verses 3 and 4

Preparation
1. What is the primary message of this psalm?

2. To whom is this psalm directed? 

Meditation
The superscription tells us that this was a psalm (song) written by the sons of Korah and delivered to the chief musician. It was thus intended for use in public worship. Asaph, the other musicians, and the sons of Korah were appointed to prophesy with instruments and song (1 Chron. 25.1-8). This suggests a role for music and singing in worship that we perhaps take for granted these days – that singing can be a form of proclamation.

Singing songs like Psalm 49, perhaps.

What strikes us immediately about this psalm is that it was directed to the people and inhabitants of the world (v. 1). In the days of the sons of Korah, when Solomon was king, the streets of Jerusalem would have abounded with foreign visitors, some of whom may even have found their way to the outskirts of the temple. These people came bearing tribute and to learn from Solomon’s wisdom (cf. 1 Kgs. 10). The sons of Korah gave them a song to contemplate during their long journey home.

The psalm offers wisdom and understanding to any who will receive it (v. 3). Though it may sound like a proverb, consisting of sayings difficult to understand (v. 4), those who attend to it thoughtfully could expect to benefit from it eternally.

These days we don’t think much about writing poems or songs for unbelievers to read and consider. But Psalm 49 suggests we may be missing an important aspect of our witness to the world. If God thought singing and reciting verse to unbelieving ears might bring them to wisdom and understanding, perhaps we, too, should reconsider our own use of these powerful resources.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
There is a song for the nations, and we are called to sing it.
Sometimes we are even called to write it.
But regardless of how this song gets sung or written, it is our job to do it with the skills freely given us by the Holy Spirit.

It matters not whether the song is a solo, duet, trio, or choir production.
What matters is that we sing it to the world that is lost without God.

Rehearsals involve mediating in God’s word which gives us understanding.
Understanding proverbs allows us to help others understand “perplexing problems” (Ps. 49.4 TLB).
With this wisdom we proclaim Jesus, and in so doing, please the Lord.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19.14).

Songs are a memorable way to proclaim the truth.
As we know, opposing choirs use this means all the time to broadcast contrary ways.
So let’s sing out a “new song” …with a “shout of joy” (Ps. 33.3).
“He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God;
many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD” (Ps. 40.3).

We have the confidence to go forth with this because “His song shall be with me—a prayer to the God of my life” (Ps. 42.8).

Truly the song the nations need to hear is about the King, the Savior, the Almighty God, the Prince of Peace.
Here is a sample song written by the saints, which God heard as their prayer:
“And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals;
for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood
out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…’” (Rev. 5.9).

We are free to use any of the themes of Scripture as lyrics to our new tunes.
We just need to get busy and do it!

The Song for the Nations is about redemption and love.

Let’s sing!

Reflection
1. Obviously, Scripture has a lot to say about singing. Why do you think that is so?

2. How would you summarize the Song for the Nations we have been called to sing? Can you think of a hymn or two that embodies that Song?

3. Try learning a hymn that speaks to our unbelieving age. How might you use this as part of your witness in your Personal Mission Field?

This psalm is quite different from a psalm of praise; it is an instruction text set to music. Its structure is: (1) a call for understanding (vv. 1–4); (2) a declaration of the vanity of trusting in wealth (vv. 5–9); (3) a declaration of the worthlessness of possessions after death (vv. 10–12); (4) a description of God’s redemption (vv. 13–15); (5) the conclusion that there is no need to fear the rich (vv. 16–20). Earl Radmacher (1931-2014), NKJV Study Bible Notes on Psalm 49

Closing Prayer: Psalm 49.15-20
Thank God for saving you through faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for the lost people you know, and for an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus today.

Sing Psalm 49.16-20 15
(Sagina: And Can It Be, That I Should Gain)
Let the redeemed of God take heart, though fools and all their wealth increase.
Death shall deprive him of all he owns, the grave shall make his glory cease.
Thus though he boasts, no light he sees;  his end in hell shall ever be.
Refrain v. 15
My God redeems my soul from hell!
His grace and mercy let me tell!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to our summary of last week’s study by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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