Summary: Remembering God’s goodness puts a song in your heart. What is the purpose of Christian song writing today? Where have we failed in it and how can we retract from it and set our hearts on songs that worship and please God alone. Consider what God might wan
Opening illustration: I was delighted when I received a free gift in the mail - a CD of Scripture set to music. After listening to it several times, some of the melodies took root in my mind. Before long, I could sing the words to a couple of verses in the book of Psalms without the help of the recording.
Music can help us recall words and ideas we might otherwise forget. God knew that the Israelites would forget Him when they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:20). They would forsake Him, turn to idols, and trouble would follow (vs.16-18). Because of this, He asked Moses to compose a song and teach it to the Israelites so they could remember their past closeness with Him and the sin that hurt their relationship (31:19-22). Perhaps most important, God wanted His nation to recall His character: “[God] is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (32:4).
Let us turn to Deuteronomy 31 and catch up with the story of the Israelites and the reason God told Moses to write this song …
Introduction: In order that Moses in his own person should exemplify the nature of that law which he had given, it was appointed of God that he should die for one offense, and to have the honor of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. The time of his departure was now at hand; and God said to him, “Behold your day’s approach that you must die.” Little remained for him to do! He had been instrumental in acquiring the Ten Commandments and writing the laws. But before his departure God would have him write a song which would contain a brief summary of His dealings with His people and which should be committed to them to memory as “a witness for Him against them.”
This song we now propose to consider as a warning for Christians today: shall we delve into God’s Word and expose His intents.
(A) Why was this song (Deuteronomy 32:1-52) to be remembered?
1. Recall future Apostasy (vs. 16-18) - Prophetic
Because of this future idolatry in Israel, God instructed Moses to compose sort of a national anthem for ancient Israel. Yet this was a strange national anthem, because the purpose of this anthem was to testify against them as a witness. God knew that words are more memorable when set to music, so while He composed it, He asked Moses to write the sermon in a song found in the following chapter, Deuteronomy 32:1-52.
Israel was under no government of fate. Had the people repented, they would have been forgiven. The predictions are cast in absolute form, only because God saw that warning would not be taken. He would only too gladly have revoked his threatening’s, had Israel, roused to alarm, turned from its evil (cf. the case of Nineveh). This, however, it did not do, but, with these woe-laden prophecies spread before it, rushed madly on, as if eager to fulfill them. How like sinners still. The plainest declarations, the most explicit warnings, the direst threatening’s, are as little wrecked of as if no Word of God were in existence. Strange that God’s Word should be so disregarded, and yet profession so often made of believing in it. Missing God is not true repentance.
2. Recall their past intimacy and present sin toward God (vs. 19-22) - Commemorative
Homer is reported to have sung his poems through different Greek cities. Aristotle observes that anciently the people sung their laws. And Cicero observes that it was a custom among the ancient Romans to sing the praises of their heroes at the public festivals. This was the case among the northern inhabitants of Europe.
Because in it their general defection is predicted, but in such a way as to show them how to avoid the evil; and if they did not avoid the evil, and the threatened punishment should come upon them, then the song should testify against them, by showing that they had been sufficiently warned, and might have lived to God, and so escaped those disasters.
Illustration: A college student was troubled by sinful thoughts. Even though he regularly read his Bible and prayed, he continued to struggle, so he sought help from a Christian counselor.
"What kind of music do you listen to?" asked the counselor. The student said it was secular rock. The counselor then commented, "Think of your mind as a big sheet of paper. Each song you hear is a match burning the edges. You ask God to heal the burn, and He begins applying the salve of His Word. But you keep adding matches. Listen to Christian music and see what happens." The student did, and the truth set to music began to heal his mind.