The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
In reading this verse, I couldn’t help but think about the implication that we all have a song. Granted, many of us should leave the singing and playing to those who know what they are doing, but the presence or lack of a musical ability has nothing to do with having a song.
David was a musician, and so it makes sense to read it this way. However, there is a very isolated feeling for the tone-deaf and musically challenged among us if we read this in such a way as to limit “song” to a strict interpretation of melodic and sonic qualities. Do we not, in literature, say that a creek “babbles”, or birds “sing” when in truth creeks do nothing more than direct water to slap rocks at different intervals and birds bark out whistle like signals through their awkward beaks in communication and warning. Obviously I’m not saying that those things aren’t “singing”, I’m just lobbying for a more liberal definition of “song”.
So, in pondering this, there was one explanation that wouldn’t leave my mind, and I’ve continued humming it for some time now. Perhaps the tune will get lodged in your head as well:
If I was a sculptor, but then again no
Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show
I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song and, this one’s for you
– Elton John, “Your Song”
Perhaps Sir Elton didn’t realize it, but he was exegeting Scripture here as he meanders through a couple of scenarios describing what it would look like to show gratitude and love. He describes the “fitting” process as he determines what would make the most sense in expressing this affection. For a sculptor, the highest form of praise would have been a sculpture. I can’t exactly tell you if he was talking about a carnival magician or an alchemist in a time warp for the second line, but no matter, the point is made that he would have expressed his devotion by utilizing his unique skills. The writer eventually says that his gift isn’t mixing chemicals or manipulating clay but it’s songwriting, and so he uses that gift to honor the object of his affection.
This is the Psalmist’s implication. My song, your song, will likely look different than a lot of other people’s song. We all have different songs. The melody of a writer is just as beautiful as the melody of a carpenter or an athlete or a cook. The issue is not whether there is one specific song that honors God; the issue is whether or not we sing!
May we do what we do today with Paul’s words in our heart:
1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God
And whatever those songs are that God has birthed within our hearts, may we sing them. David found that a beneficial way to return thanks to God was through his song, we will also find that to be true. I believe the quote is credited to the reformer Martin Luther, and it ends this thought well:
When I can’t pray, I sing.
– Martin Luther
I encourage you today…sing.