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Singing Songs In The Night

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The theme of night (or night time) occurs very frequently in the Scriptures and with a variety of emphases whether literal or symbolic. “Night” often is associated with negative actions, emotions, or thoughts, much as darkness is contrasted with light.1 At times, however, the night can convey a positive image as:

the time for spiritual devotions by people. Jesus sometimes spent nights in prayer (Mt 14:23; Lk 6:12). In the Psalms we read about people who receive instruction by night (Ps 16:7), sing in the night (Ps 42:8), meditate by night (Ps 63:6; 119:148), commune with their heart in the night Ps 77:6), and remember God’s name in the night (Ps 119:55).2

In keeping with the more positive aspect of the night theme, in the following short study we shall focus our attention on four Old Testament passages that tell of a believer’s singing of songs in the night. After considering certain key elements revealed in the night time as an occasion for spiritual experience, we shall close with a few important applications.

Old Testament Examples

Job

The account of Job’s testing and difficulties at the hands of Satan and his subsequent discussion with his three friends is well known. We take up the story where Elihu, Job’s younger acquaintance, enters the discussion. Elihu had listened with growing impatience to the conversation as to why Job had suffered such great physical affliction. Although none of them were aware of the true nature of the reason for Job’s suffering, the dialogue between Job and the three friends centered mainly on the subject of righteousness (especially Job’s) and God’s justice. When the discussion appeared to be declining, Elihu stepped into the conversation by accusing Job of trumpeting his own righteousness, while failing to recognize properly God’s own essential unchangeable righteousness. Elihu, therefore, champions both God’s righteousness and his justice.

In the fourth of his five recorded speeches (or lectures) to Job and his friends, Elihu begins by implying that Job’s claim to be righteous appears to be simply self-serving. For Job has expressed his lament and his disappointment that acting righteously does not appear to have any effect on God and his relation to human conduct. Having assured Job that God’s own holy character is not impugned by man’s conduct, even though this may be true on a human level, Elihu comes to Job’s situation. He says that Job has complained that God does not care to answer a suffering person’s cry for help and relief, even when victimized by others. Elihu, however, declares that too often such people fail to fully trust or even call upon the Lord who is ever available to provide relief for those who truly call upon him in genuine faith. As Konkel expresses it, Elihu’s remarks suggest that such,

sufferers …only want relief from their pain. Since they have no interest in living out the ways of God in this world, their cries are met with silence…. But Job was wrong to think that God is indifferent to the cries of the persecuted and that God does not notice when justice is being violated. Job may not see the judgment of God (35:14), but he should not come to the conclusion that God is indifferent to the order of justice.3

Moreover, it is the Lord who “gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10). Indeed it is during night when difficulties seem to weigh most heavily on the sufferer. As Hartley points out, “Troubles, of course, were closely associated with the night. So during a long night of anxiety the faithful would sustain themselves by singing psalms (cf. Ps. 30:6 [Eng. Ps. 30:5]; 143:7-10).”4 Although Elihu’s remark concerning “songs in the night” is directed toward God’s positive response to the faithful sufferer’s cry, we would be remiss in limiting the full scope of this theme. As we shall note later, nighttime songs can originate from a positive viewpoint as well.

Psalm 77

Psalm 77 was composed by a Levite. Asaph was a musician who ministered in the days of David (1 Chron. 15:17-19; cf. 1 Chron. 16:4-5). As I have written previously, Psalm 77 is structured in three major sections.5 In the first section the psalmist speaks of a crisis time in his life, a time so troubling that he feared that God turned aside from his normal faithful love for his covenant people so greatly that he was no longer gracious or compassionate toward them (vv.1-9). In the second section, however, the psalmist turns his mind to rehearsing all the wondrous -- even amazing -- things that God did in the past, including the miraculous deliverance of his people (vv10-15). This thought brings him to a third unit (vv. 16-20). He recalls all the spectacular events, which have been recorded concerning the Lord’s bringing of his people out of Egypt (the Exodus.)

In telling of his troubling experience (the first section) he recalls:

I thought about the days of old,
about ancient times.
I said, “During the night
I will remember the song I once sang;
I will think very carefully. (v.6)”6

Those were such good days, such a precious time! Then he could sing God’s praises even during the night hours. As Delitzsch remarks,

He remembers the happier past of his people and his own, inasmuch as he now in the night purposely calls back to himself in his mind the time when joyful thankfulness impelled him to the song of praise accompanied by the music of the harp…in place of which, crying and sighing, and gloomy silence have now entered.” 7

To be sure, whether day or night, hymns and spiritual songs can bring relief from life’s difficulties and exchange sorrow for joy (Isa. 1: 2-5). Nevertheless, it is in the night that troubles seem to be felt most keenly and deeply. Troubled times can bring sleepless nights. Yet all of this can and should cause one to remember that God is still in control and available to help. Such thoughts may even stimulate one to find relief by rehearsing songs of praise to God. Psalm 77 is a vivid reminder that the almighty Lord is aware of our challenges and is available for help.

Psalms 42-43

That Psalms 42 and 43 originally comprised one psalm appears certain even as attested in several Hebrew manuscripts. Not only does Psalm 43 not have an introductory heading as in the surrounding psalms, but it repeats the same twice occurring refrain present in Psalm 42 (cf. Ps. 43:5 with Ps. 42:5, 11). Moreover it supplies the closing confidence so often found in the praise psalms (cf. Pss. 27, 63, 84). Thus as Futato points out, the original full psalm in what we know as Psalms 42 and 43 emphasizes most clearly the believer’s longing for God.8 Although the structure of the resultant psalm has been viewed differently by various expositors, the thrice occurring refrain argues strongly for the psalms to be viewed as falling into three main sections (Ps. 42:1-5; 42:6-11; Ps. 43:1-5). Our discussion will proceed along these lines.

In the first section, the psalmist expresses his strong longing to be in the formal presence of the God. He remembers fondly those times when he was among those who walked with a crowd of people to worship the Lord, especially on the occasion of “the holy festival” (Ps. 42:4). As a Korahite he may also have been one of the gate keepers at the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chron. 26:1-19) and perhaps one who joined in the joyful singing of praise to God. The most sacred of such festival times were the “three annual pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Firstfruits, and Tabernacles.”9 What fond memories he had! What a strong longing and desire to “appear in God’s presence (v. 2).

One might ask, “Did he not now experience a sense of God’s presence with him?” Perhaps he did, but his words doubtless refer to those very special times (especially at one of the three festival occasions) performing his duty in the Lord’s service where God made his earthly home—the temple in Jerusalem. His fond memory of such joyous occasions brought tears to his eyes (vv. 2-3). Rather than being there as in former days, he now lived in exile and faced ridicule from those around him (cf. vv. 9-10 in the second section). They as much as said, “If your God is so great, what happened? Where is he now? Why has he not protected you and is not now supplying your needs?”

Such taunts and ridicule cut sharply and deeply into the psalmist’s heart. Although he apparently could not give a fitting reply to such people, he could remind himself that God was indeed in control and doubtless would yet rescue him. He would then be able and be sure to give heartfelt thanks to the Lord. Rather than being totally upset and depressed, he should wait patiently for the Lord (v. 5; cf. HCSB, “Put your hope in God”). At the proper time God will intervene on his behalf. His fortunes may have taken a depressing turn, but in spite of it all deep down in his heart his faith remained. However unfortunate his present situation was, he believed that God would yet hear his lament and rescue him.

In the second section of this combined Psalm 42-43, the psalmist reveals his deeply distressed state of mind. Rather than being able to be part of the festival procession, people keep tormenting him as to the presence of his God (vv.9-10). Now he has only fond remembrances of his native land. Particularly haunting is the remembrance of Israel’s majestic and picturesque northern border—its mountains and the sources of the Jordan River:

I am depressed
so I will pray unto you while I am trapped
here in the region of the upper Jordan
from Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
One deep stream calls out to another
at the sound of your waterfalls;
all your billows and waves overwhelm me. (Ps 42:6-7)

The question arises as to when all of this taking place and where the psalmist was located? Was the psalmist living in the area east of the Jordan River? Or is this merely the starting point of his fond reverie concerning his homeland? Why was the psalmist unable to return? Two major views seem most likely: (1) the psalmist was part of the group that fled with David at the time of Absalom’s rebellion or (2) he was part of those who were carried away in exile after the fall of Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C. Although certainty is lacking, it is most intriguing to follow the former view. The psalmist had fled with David (cf. 2 Sam. 15:24) at the time of Absalom’s takeover of the government and revolt against his father David (2 Sam 15:1-18:6). As Delitzsch points out:

All of the complaints and hopes that he expresses sound very much like those of David during the time of Absalom. David’s yearning after the house of God in Ps. xxiii; xxvi; lv; lxiii, finds its echo here: the conduct and outlines of the enemies are also just the same; even the sojourn in the country east of Jordan agrees with David’s settlement at that time at Mahanaim in the mountains of Gilead. 10

To return to the account of the psalmist’s fond remembrances of his own country, we note the application of the waters of the north Jordan River:

One deep stream calls out to another
at the sound of your waterfalls;
all of your billows and waves overwhelm me. (v. 7)

As Ross observes: “Trouble had come over him like one wave after another, personified as if they were calling to each other to come down in the waterfalls. He had been overwhelmed as if by a flood.” 11 Futato suggests that the imagery here may have reinforced his special remembrance of being in the presence of God:

These abundant waters are an image of the experience of the abundant presence of God. But the memory of these waters is not, at the present, a source of consolation. Ironically, they are an overwhelming deluge that threatens to sweep the psalmist away.12

Yet, despite his feeling of depression, born of despair, he must admit:

By day the LORD decrees his loyal love,
and by night he gives me a song,
a prayer to the living God. (v. 8)

Thus as the NET note correctly points out, despite his despair and discouragement, the Psalmist realizes that he has not been left alone. God will be with him not only through the troubles of the day, but the Lord’s sustenance will be felt so strongly that he can sing and pray to God throughout the night. When referring to the divine presence, he has thus far simply used the generic term “God.” Now he uses the warm name LORD (Heb. Yahweh, the one exists eternally and has caused the earth to exist). Yahweh is also, of course, the covenant name by which God revealed himself to Moses:

God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you –the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation. (Ex 3:14-15).13

As Stuart observes, in a special way, “The name should thus be understood as referring to Yahweh’s being the creator and sustainer of all that exists and thus the Lord of both creation and history, all that is and all that is happening—a God active and present in historical affairs.”14 The Psalmist remembers that God is not just an impersonal controller of all things but is warm, loving and faithful (v. 8; NET, “loyal love”; Heb. ħesed).15 As I have pointed out elsewhere, although this word “is rendered by such English equivalents as mercy, loving-”kindness, and faithfulness,” Hosea employs it in speaking of “God’s great love for Israel in terms of His established covenant with them.”16

Nevertheless, his fit of depression then once again overtakes him (vv. 9-10). He wonders, if God is his loving Lord, why is all of this happening to him? Why does he go about in sorrow, being constantly tormented by his enemies as to who the psalmist’s God is supposed to be? Has God really abandoned him? Although he declares that he has a place of refuge in God “his rock” (NET, “high ridge”), he feels as though his very bones have been crushed by it all. And so he must once again remind himself to “wait for God” (v. 11; HCSB, “put your hope in God”).

As the final section of the combined Pss. 42-43 begins, the psalmist is pleading with God to intervene for him and defend him against his enemies. He desires his cause to be so vindicated that he may be rescued and, hopefully, be able to return to his ministry at home (Ps. 43:3). He reminds God that he alone is his stronghold, his refuge (HCSB). The psalmist’s declaration that that God is his “refuge” builds upon the thought that he had expressed earlier, that God was his “rock” (Ps. 42:9).

The progression of thought in the psalmist’s experience is noteworthy. In section one (Ps. 42:1-5), he acknowledges God as “My Savior and God.” It is a declaration that is affirmed subsequently in concluding each section (Pss. In 42:5, 11; 43:5). In section one he also speaks of God as “The Living God” for whom he had such a strong longing that it is like an unquenchable thirst (v. 2). As we noted above, in section two God is “My rock.” Now in section three God is “My refuge” as well as his ultimate joy (Ps. 43:4).

It is also significant to notice his questioning of God in all three sections: (1) When could he come and appear before God rather than being tormented by his oppressors? (2) Why must he experience continued sorrow, surrounded by those who ridicule him? Has God forgotten him? (3) If God is the one who gives him shelter, why does he feel abandoned as he has to deal with his oppressors taunts? Yet despite his daily suffering, he has an underlying confidence in God. He also remembers vividly those happy days in the service of God (Ps. 42:8). Moreover, he believes it certain that God will demonstrate his faithfulness to him so that he will again sing praises to the Lord even in the night time (Ps. 42:8). Now, as his faith arises still more, he can pray expectantly to God. Surely the Lord will return him to his place of ministry (Ps. 43:3-4). Employing personification, he views God’s light and truth (NET, “faithfulness”) as escorting him back to the holy land and to his former service for God. As Leupold remarks, both light and truth “may have been envisioned by the writer as guardian angels of a sort who are walking along at his side. This is, then, another way of saying: Let me again become assured of Thy gracious favor, O Lord.”17 His thinking brings such “ecstatic joy” that he resolves that when this happens, he will express his thankfulness to God with a harp (v. 4).

It is of further interest to note another feature of the psalmist’s great sense of joy –the joy of experiencing the Lord’s presence and his personal fulfillment through the ministry of music. He remembers so well his exhilaration in those times of festive celebration with those who walked to the place of worship (cf. Ps 42: 4). He recalls with great pleasure the delightful experience of the Lord’s giving songs in the night (Ps. 42:8). He now rehearses his expectation of once again coming to the sacred place of worship, for there he will demonstrate his great joy in praising God through the playing of the harp (Ps. 43:4). His remarks demonstrate that for the psalmist music is an important element in his worship and spiritual experience, including times of “songs in the night.”

The psalmist concludes his remarks by repeating the refrain of not allowing his present irritating conditions to depress him. Rather, he should continue to put his hope in the One who is his Savior and his God (Ps. 43:5). As Futato remarks, “His hope is sure because the one to whom he prays is his Savior and God. He believes that God will save him from the worst of all possible fates: the absence of God. He believes that God will deliver him into God’s very own presence.”18 There, in his renewed ministry, he will “again give thanks.” The psalmist’s confidence in the Lord is well taken and remains true for today’s believer, for as I have pointed out elsewhere, “The faithful believer will find that God longs to relieve the believer’s burden and to rescue him in time of trouble (Ps. 81:6-8).”19 As the hymn writer declares:

Trust in the Lord. O troubled soul.
Rest in the arms of his care;
Whatever your lot, it mattereth not,
For nothing can trouble you there.20

Isaiah 30:29

In sharp contrast to Asaph’s remembrance of God’ past deeds, especially at the time of the exodus (Ps. 77: 5-6, 11-20) and the Korahite psalmist’s expectation of God’s soon intervention on his behalf (Pss. 42-43), Isaiah looks forward to a future time of singing in the night. As the Lord had delivered his people Israel, so he will do once again. As Moses, Miriam and the Israelites had sung God’s praises at that time (Exod. 15), so God’s people will do again. In a section in which Isaiah instructs his people to put their trust in God rather than foreign nations, he declares that the Lord is about to make an example of this in the great world power of the day – Assyria (Isa. :27-33). God’s burning anger against Assyria is depicted in graphic portrayal. As Oswalt observes,

God is depicted as coming from a great distance on the wings of a storm. With whirlwind, cloudburst, and pelting hail he destroys his enemies. Those who crouch in the dry wadis for protection are swept away in an instant by the walls of water that come rushing down on them.21

In the midst of his description Isaiah assures the people of Judah:

You will sing
as you do in the evening
when you are celebrating a festival.
You will be happy like one who plays a flute
as he goes to the mountain of the LORD,
the Rock who shelters Israel. (v. 29)

With the smashing defeat of Assyria, God’s people in Judah will rejoice with singing and praise to the LORD. That time is compared to one of the holy occasions of joyous worship (e.g., Passover or Tabernacles) when “pilgrims come marching into Jerusalem singing and dancing to the sound of musical instruments because they are entering the presence of God, the Rock and sure foundation of Israel.”22

Whatever the festive occasion alluded to, the people’s joy at celebrating Assyria’s defeat and God’s deliverance of his people are clearly in view. Although no particular historical occasion is pointed to, a strong possibility might be the Lord’s deliverance of Judah during the reign of the Assyrian King Sennacherib (705-681 B. C.) in the days of Judah’s King Hezekiah (701 B. C.). Although the Assyrians successfully invaded large portions on Israel and Judah, their attack against Jerusalem was a complete failure. As the Lord had promised David and for the sake of God’s own reputation God would shield this city and rescue it. That very night the Lord’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men of the Assyrian camp. When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses. So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh” (2 Kings 19:34-36; cf. Isa. 37:35-37).

According to Josephus (Ant 10: 21-22, [1:5]) when Sennacherib saw the decimation of his troops at Jerusalem, he feared for the safety of the rest of his army and fled to Nineveh.”23 As Smith observes, “At this point the prophet attempts to create in his audience a belief in God’s almighty power so that they will trust him.”24 Although certainty as to the actual event is lacking, however, one thing is certain: God’s people are safe in his hands. Indeed, they are so safe that they may rejoice and sing his praises even in times of extreme difficulty.

Such it has always been and remains the case even today. God is the One in whom the believer finds refuge:

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I,
My soul in its conflicts and sorrow would fly;
So sinful, so weary, Thine, Thine would I be;
Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.
…….

How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe,
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe;
How often, when trials like sea billows roll,
Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul. 25

God is truly the believer’s deliverer and source of rejoicing in song. In this regard it is of additional interest to note that Isaiah’s “singing in the night” prophecy with its promise of deliverance is in harmony with his wider prophetic teaching. Indeed, music is an essential ingredient throughout his messages and can be found coupled with the theme of deliverance. For example,

At that time this song will be sung in the land of Judah;
we have a strong city!

The LORD’s deliverance, like walls and a rampart
makes it secure. (Isa. 26:1; cf. 35:10; 51:11)26

In Isaiah 38:20 Isaiah records Hezekiah’s song of thankfulness to God:

The LORD is about to deliver me.
and we will celebrate with music
for the rest of our lives in the LORD’s temple.

In an earlier prophetic message Isaiah gives the Lord’s assurance of the deliverance of his people and predicts that at that time the people will say,

I will praise You, LORD,
although you were angry with me,
Your anger has turned away,
and You had compassion on me.
Indeed, God is my salvation;
I will trust in him and not be afraid,
For Yah, the LORD,
is my strength and my song.
He has become my salvation.
Sing to Yahweh, for he has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth! (Isa. 12:1-2, 5; HCSB).

Key Elements In Night Time Worship

The passages we have considered dealing with songs in the night are instructive as to certain important thematic features. Thus in Job 35:10, God is seen to be available for the believer in difficult times—even in the night. In Psalm 77, God is shown as a true deliverer, as is evident in the well--documented historic record of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. In the combined Psalm 42-43, God is revealed as the giver of songs in the night as well as being the believer’s rock of defense and savior. Moreover, when one has a strong desire for the presence of the Lord, it can perhaps result in the accompanying joy of music, perhaps even in the ministry of singing or playing to the praise of God. In Isaiah 30, we noted the combined force of music and God as Israel’s deliverer. It is a reality that will extend into his people’s future. Indeed, Israel will then enjoy such happiness that it will be like those festival times when singing and playing in praise of “the Rock who shelters Israel” (Isa. 30:29). In all of this the importance of night as an opportunity for special worship should not be overlooked.

Nighttime continued to be an occasion for worship into New Testament times. On some occasions the Lord Jesus is recorded as having spent the night in prayer (cf. Matt. 14:23; 26:26-36). On one occasion Paul spoke to the gathered throng at Troas throughout the night (Acts 20:7-11). At yet another occasion Paul and Silas, who had been put in jail for their witness concerning Jesus Christ, “About midnight … were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). It was to bring spectacular results (Acts 16:26-34). We have noted the central importance of divine deliverance in the Old Testament examples of singing in the night. Underlying all of the New Testament times of worship, of course, is one crucial truth: Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah and our Lord, is the Savior of mankind.

Although the term savior, referring to Jesus Christ, fills the pages of our hymnbooks, interestingly enough it was not applied to Him often in the earlier portions of the New Testament. To be sure, the term was used at the announcements concerning His Birth, first to Joseph (“Thou shall call his name Jesus,” Matt. 1:21—Jesus meaning Joshua, “God is salvation”), and then to the shepherds (Luke 2:11), but after that it is found only rarely until later. It was the confession of the people at Samaria who believed in Jesus (John 4:42). It was the testimony of Peter (Acts 5:31) and Paul (Acts 13:23) on scattered occasions in the early days of the church’s expansion. However, not until the seventh decade (A.D. 60-69) did the term come into great use. Significantly, God’s timing was just right. Rome groaned under Nero (A.D. 54-68), whose ever-increasing madness caused the whole Roman Empire to look for a deliverer from his oppressiveness. The Jews, too, severely persecuted by the Romans and in imminent danger of losing Jerusalem, increasingly cried out for a savior. Ironically, the Savior had come! By His death and Resurrection He had effected man’s salvation once and for all (1 Cor. 15:3-5). To a world crying for a deliverer, the apostles introduced Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the Savior.

The main thrust of the early Christian message had been to Jews and accordingly the chief emphasis had been on the messiahship of Jesus (e.g., Acts 2:36). Now, as the mission to the Gentiles moved on in full force even to Rome itself, the New Testament writers of that seventh decade employed the term that God had prepared the world to receive—Savior. In his Prison Epistles, Paul points out that Jesus is the Savior of the church, His body, for whom He gave His all (Eph. 5:22-27). He reminds the Philippian Christians that this Savior is coming again to secure the believers’ full and final deliverance (Phil. 3:20-21). In his Pastoral Epistles, Paul speaks frequently of Jesus the Savior. Together with the Father, Christ is the source of grace, mercy, and peace (Titus 1:4). He is the source of a holy and productive life both now and forever (2 Tim. 1:8-10). Because Jesus is the believer’s Savior, those who have accepted Him have entered into the family of God and have a present hope of eternal life and heirship with Christ (Titus 3:4-6). Yes, Jesus Christ is the great Savior who offers the Christian an abundant and fruitful life in this present age and who is coming again soon to receive him unto Himself (Titus 2:11-14).

Peter also reminds his readers that Christ is the Savior. That Savior has provided equality of redemption for all who receive Him by faith (2 Peter 1:1-4). Peter reminds the believer that he has been delivered from the pollution of this world by Christ the Savior (2 Peter 2:20) and given an “entrance... abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). He challenges Christians to get into the Scriptures, Old and New, and to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:1-2, 18).

Today’s world still longs for deliverance. Yet, God’s message is plain: the Deliverer, Christ the Savior, has come. He offers to all men everywhere the promise of full salvation from the bondage of sin and a rich and rewarding life that stretches out to all eternity, lived in union with the Savior.

Application

The realization that Christ is our personal Savior should make us long for God with all of our heart. The knowledge that music is an important element in our worship experience should encourage us to make use of it even in our nighttime worship. Indeed, as we have seen, music whether in singing or playing or both, can bring real joy. This is not strange when we understand that God himself is the author of music.

In Psalm 40:3 David claims that it is God who “put a new song in my mouth” (RSV). Alongside the image of God as lawgiver, therefore, we should place the image of God as musical composer (Deut 31:9). He is also a performer: his heart “moans for Moab like a flute” (Jer 48:36 RSV), and he exults over Zion “with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17 RSV).27

Accordingly, as Paul admonished the Colossian believers,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him. (Col. 3:16-17. cf. Eph. 5:18-20).

Yes, much as in the case in the Old Testament examples, even during the night the individual believer can be led to rehearse in his mind hymns or songs or perhaps even express them in singing joyfully from his heart to Christ his Savior. As the hymn writer puts it:

Songs in the daytime; songs in the night;
Songs of devotion songs of delight;
Melodies ringing; in my heart singing
Jesus gives me a song.
Jesus gives me a song as I travel along
On life’s luring, lonesome road;
I can sing as go for there’s one thing I know,
That will lift life’s heavy load,
When the shadows are long He will give me a song
As when skies are blue and bright;
For each step of the way, each hour of the day,
And songs in the deepest night.28


1 See Richard D. Patterson, “Deliverance from Darkness,” The Southern Baptist Theological Journal , 8 (2004) 74-88.

2 “Night,” in Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation, eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press,1998), 595.

3 August H’ Konkel, “Job,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2006) 6: 209.

4 John E. Hartley, The Book of Job, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. R.K. Harrison (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 466.

5 Richard D. Patterson, “Rest in Troublesome Times,” (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2014).

6 Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations are taken from the NET.

7 Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans (1955) 2: 351-52.

8 See M. Futato, “The Book of Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort 18 vols. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2009) 7:157-60.

9 Willem A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper E. Longman III and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2008) 5:382.

10 Delitzsch,” Psalms,” op. cit. II: 53-54. A. R. Fausset, “The Book of Psalms,” in A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, 6 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948)3:191 goes so far as to suggest, “Though the authorship of Psalm xlii belongs to the sons of Korah, it is David who speaks throughout; and the occasion is plainly the time when he was fleeing from Absalom, and was on the other side of Jordan, as v. 6 implies. They regarded him as head of their choral school.”

11 Allen Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 825.

12 Futato, “Psalms,” op.cit. 159.

13 See further, my comments in, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Biblical Studies Press, 2013.

14 Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, The New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006), 121.

15 For the subject of divine faithfulness, see D. A. Baer and R. P. Gordon, “ħsd,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997) 2:213-17.

16 Richard D. Patterson, Hosea (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 2009), 71.

17 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), 343.

18 Futato, “Psalms,” 160.

19 Richard D. Patterson, “Rest in Troublesome Times,” 11.

20 Thomas O. Chisholm, “Trust in the Lord.”

21 John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 565.

22 Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1-39, The New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2007), 525.

23 Richard D. Patterson, “1,2 Kings,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2009) 3: 918.

24 Smith, Isaiah 1-39, 526.

25 William O. Cushing, “O Safe to the Rock that is Higher than I.”

26 See also 44:22-23; 52:9 in the NIV.

27 “Music,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds, Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 578. It is small wonder, then, that, “music is preeminently an image of praise, associated with joy. In fact, over a hundred references in the Psalms command the use of music for praising God and 91 out of 107 references to music in the Psalms specify God as the audience of music (including numerous references to singing ‘to the Lord’)”; ibid., 577. Singing God’s praise is also mentioned several times in the New Testament (e.g., Rom. 15:9; Heb. 2:12; Jas. 5:13) and is recorded as occurring in Heaven itself (Rev. 14:2, 3; 15:3-4). One is reminded of the refrain to Johnson Oatman’s hymn, “There is Singing up in Heaven”: “Holy, holy is what the angels sing and I expect to help them make the courts of Heaven ring; but when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings, for angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.”

28 Homer W. Grimes, “Jesus Gives Me a Song.”

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