The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD. (Isaiah 38:20)
Hezekiah was an excellent king of Judah. A descendant of David, he bore similar traits to his ancestor in that he worshipped God and delighted in God's law. At one point, Hezekiah became sick. Isaiah the prophet was summoned, and he told Hezekiah his time to die had come. Hezekiah pleaded with God but also pleaded with Isaiah to plead with God. Isaiah returned with the glad announcement that Hezekiah would live. For another fifteen years, Hezekiah sat on the throne.
In response, Hezekiah sang. He said many things to God in his song, but this final sentence is beautiful to me: "The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD." In Hezekiah's statement of praise, I see four elements I want to emulate, since the LORD has also, in a more robust manner than Hezekiah experienced, saved my life.
1. Our Song Should Be Rooted In Salvation
Hezekiah sang, "The LORD will save me." His entire song, his joy, was based on the salvation God would win for him. As a Christian man, I can rejoice over a million other things, but I want my truest and most poignant joy to be over the cross of Christ and the salvation it won for me. I am saved! Wrath, death, and hell are not mine. The blood of Jesus has made me new!
As I said, it is easy for me to celebrate the lesser and forget to rejoice over the greater. It has always struck me as interesting that Jesus had to give believers communion, his table, the bread and wine, to remember his work on the cross. Forgetfulness is human, and we often slip in our fascination with the cross of Christ. I pass through life and become distracted with, well, life, and the work of Christ's salvation diminishes within me. But if I am going to sing, I must remember I've been saved.
2. Our Song Is A Personal One
Hezekiah said, "We will play my music on stringed instruments." For him, it was his music, a personal song with personal lyrics meant to describe his personal experience with God. This does not mean his faith was secretive or individualistic, his own unique religion he had crafted for himself. No, it means the God who is available to all had been enjoyed by Hezekiah personally. The song had become his.
As a believer, I want to sing, but I know I cannot sing the general song of the congregation until I sing the personal song of Nate. I must have an individual encounter with God, and continue to encounter him my entire life if this song is going to flow. His power is immense, but if I can only think of his power in the past (the date of my conversion) or the future (the coming of his eschatological kingdom), I will not sing today. I want to live in his power today, but for that, I must continue to stretch out my hand (Matthew 12:3) and get out of the boat (Matthew 14:28). He is calling me into further obediences, ones which stretch me, and it is during those callings I will sing my own song before the Lord.
3. Our Song Travels
Hezekiah said we would sing, "all the days of our lives." He knew he wouldn't forget his song, but that it would travel with him every step of the way. In a sense, he was committing to God. Every day of his life, Hezekiah would rejoice over God. He was a man in debt, one which he could never repay, and he would thank the God who had blessed him so with breath from every day of his future life.
The commitment Hezekiah made is a strong one. You see, our song travels with us into the everyday experience of life. There is much I love about Sundays (traditionally the day we gather to celebrate Christ). But there is much I love about Mondays (and Tuesdays, and beyond). He meets us in those days. He has a song for us during monotony, through pain, and in all the individual seasons in which we find ourselves. Solomon spoke of the different times of life (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), and God's song can be sung in all of them.
4. Our Song Is Congregational
Hezekiah said they would sing, "At the house of the LORD." You see, though his thanksgiving for salvation and healing was personal, the song he'd sing would be corporate. With the congregation, Hezekiah would lift his voice and celebrate God.
Too many believers attempt to sing their song without the congregation. Recently, a man showed me a bracelet he wore which read, "I am the church." I get the sentiment, for too many people have thought the church is a building, but he showed it to me in response to me asking to which church he belonged. It was his way, I think, of telling me he didn't have to ever go to a congregation, because he was, after all, the church. Well, the word "church" means "assembly" or "gathering." It's kinda tough to gather with yourself.
The very name, church, indicates togetherness, and the full Christian life is impossible to live alone. I partly mean that you cannot possibly make it through life by yourself. But I mostly mean that what is required of us in the Christian life -- love, service, generosity, learning, transformation -- is impossible without involvement in the lives of others. Who are you going to love? For whom are you going to sacrifice? From whom are you going to learn? Whom are you going to disciple? These things require community. Hezekiah knew it, and I hope we will as well.
I want to be a believer who has a song in his heart, one which is sung in response to the salvation Christ has won for me. I want to, daily, in the flow of my everyday life, ruminate over this song and release it to God. And I want to bring my song to the collection of the saints. I want to hear their songs, and I want them to hear mine.