Summary: The world sings a siren song that will lure the unwary away from the life they can have in Jesus. What can we do so we don't fall off the path? The psalmist says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Lashed to the Mast – Standing Firm Admist the Storms of Life
Do we have any readers here this morning? People who love to read? I love to read! Reading became a passion of mine at a fairly young age. I was thrilled to discover new worlds in which my imagination was free to roam between the covers of a book. That passion has stayed with me over the years and if you were one of those who helped move us in a couple of weeks ago you’ll remember, probably without a lot of fondness, the number of boxes containing books which had to be unloaded into our garage. I can’t get enough of books! My reading tastes vary from the detective adventures of Sherlock Holmes, to the far flung expeditions of Jules Verne and Orson Welles, to spiritual autobiographies and missionary journeys as well as many other things besides. A few years ago my interests drifted to what would be called “Classical” novels. Things like “War and Peace,” “The Mayor of Castorbridge,” the works of Charles Dickens and so on. One of the books I read at that time was the ancient Greek epic, “Odyssey” by Homer.
In that book the hero’s name is Odysseus and Odysseus is a man on a journey. He has all sorts of wild adventures during his time away from home and one of those adventures occurs at a place called the Island of the Sirens. Now in early Greek art Sirens are described as huge bird like beasts with large heads, scaly feet, and the manes of lions. They were said to sing a most beautiful and compelling song; a song so overwhelming that no one had been known to resist it. In fact when sailors heard the sound of the Sirens voices they would sail their vessels towards the source of this beautiful music only to have their ships dashed to pieces on the treacherous rocks, enabling the Sirens to feed upon their broken bodies.
Now Odysseus wanted to hear the Siren’s song, but he didn’t want to be lured to his destruction, so he devised a plan. First, he filled the sailor’s ears with wax so that they themselves would be unable to hear the alluring music. Then he instructed them to lash him to the mast of the ship, to tie him there so that he was immobilized and could not respond to the Siren’s song. Fortunately for Odysseus it all worked out for him and he was able to safely sail past the Sirens without heeding their song. Today, of course, when someone refers to the “Song of the Siren,” they are referring, not to an actual song, but rather to an appeal that is hard to resist, but that if heeded, will lead to a bad result.
And as I reflect upon Odysseus’s encounter with the Sirens, I can’t help but think that there are Sirens in our world today, who are calling out to you and me, with their music as well. They aren’t the winged creatures of mythology but the deceptive promises of the things of this world. Their song is as alluring as it is dangerous to us. And unless we can resist that song, unless we can lash ourselves to the mast as it were, we will run the risk of bringing hurt and destruction upon our families, within our homes and amongst our churches.
The Sirens of today go by many different names. You might have struggled against some of them yourself over the years. You might even be listening to their song today, unaware, or unconcerned, at the danger and downfall they portend. As we listen to their inviting promises these Sirens can lead us far from the path we sought to follow. The truth is this type of thing happens all too frequently. We read about it in the pages of the Bible in the likes of people such as Ananias and Sapphira. Remember them? Their story is found in the book of Acts. They are husband and wife who sell a field they own in order to give the proceeds to the church. That’s all well and good but they keep back some of them money for themselves, which in itself is not wrong, but then they lie about it! God reveals these things to Peter and Peter confronts Ananias saying, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? … What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God. When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.” [Acts 5:3-5]. “What made you think of doing such a thing?” It was the song of the Siren – an appeal that is hard to resist but, if heeded, will lead to a bad result. And maybe the Siren that Ananias heard was named “Greed” or “Pride” but whatever it was it tempted him to follow and lured him from the straight and narrow path to his destruction. And the apostle Paul, in his 1st letter to Timothy, say this type of thing also happened to a couple of guys named Hymenaeus and Alexander. They listened to the song of the world, and rejected the things of God, and so shipwrecked their faith upon the rocks of the Siren’s lair that Paul says he handed them over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. Those are powerful words!