Christians and the Media: Part 3 of 4 (Music) – Bible Lesson. Teen Bible Lesson.
I want to introduce each part of this series with these three ideas for parents and teachers . . .
- Listen. Find out what movies, music, and TV your teens are consuming. Position yourself first as an information gatherer, not just as a censor. Become familiar with their media choices.
- Analyze. Ask yourself, “Why do these have appeal?” “What questions do these media address that are really important to my teens?”
- Challenge. Demonstrate that the Bible discusses the very topics that their favorite songs, movies and TV programs address. Help your students compare and contrast the biblical and media views.
Music can communicate the core values of a group of people.
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”
– Psalm 1:1 – 3 (New International Version)
Psalms was the songbook of the Jews and early Christians. One could easily imagine Psalm 1 sung in a worship gathering. The psalmist sang that those who reject the standards of the world and embrace the commands of God are nourished and strengthened. Christians in the first century were told to encourage other believers to be true to their core values (Hebrews 10:23 – 26). This often happened in corporate worship. Singing psalms were a part of worship (Colossians 3:16). The words of Psalms 8:1, 2; Psalm 9:1, 2; and Psalm 118:1, 24 (to name a few) are still regularly sung in times of worship.
The words of Psalm 1 became the basis for the spiritual, “I Shall Not Be Moved”. This song has been sung for years in worship and was a theme song of the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century. Patriotic songs such as “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” serve the purpose of uniting the singers in a bond of shared beliefs and loyalties. Rock anthems such as The Who’s “My Generation” and P. O. D.’s “Youth of the Nation” serve a similar purpose. Music can be used to draw like-minded people together.
Music can express anger and frustration.
“Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.”
– Psalm 137:7 – 9 (New International Version)
Not all psalms were joyful praise songs. Psalm 137 was written during the time when the people of Israel were led away in captivity to Babylon. This song expresses the anger of a war-scarred people. It is a shocking song that dreams of unspeakable vengeance.
But the Bible always separates anger and acting upon that anger in a sinful manner. We are warned, “In your anger do not sin” (Psalm 4:4). Yet songs are a legitimate way of expressing righteous anger . . .
- David regularly sang of his hope for the humiliation of his enemies (Psalm 109:6 – 15)
- Job bitterly complained that God seemed slow to punish evildoers (Job 24:1 – 4)
- The prophets sang with a nearly bloodthirsty glee about the defeat of their enemies (Obadiah 6 – 9; Nahum 3:1 – 4)
- “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” rejoices in the hope of God taking vengeance
- Darryl Worely’s “Have You Forgotten?” expresses the rage that resulted from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001
- “Where is the Love?” by Black Eyed Peas examines the hatred that often surrounds us today and cries out bitterly
Music can tell of the love we have for another person.
” How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
descending from the hills of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
are like the halves of a pomegranate.”
– Song of Songs 4:1 – 3 (New International Version)
Instead of songs focused upon God, Song of Solomon contains songs that celebrate the love between a husband and wife. It shares similarities with songs that have celebrated romance through the centuries. In chapter 4 Solomon describes his love’s beauty with agricultural metaphors. The beloved woman responds with another song, giving an equally romantic description of the king (chapter 5 verses 10 – 13). No doubt a modern-day writer would not use these same comparisons, but the sentiment is the same.
It is clear that God created romantic love, and it is something to sing about. Adam responded with a love song when God created Eve (Genesis 2:23). A writer of Proverbs expressed his admiration and devotion to his wife of many years (Proverbs 31:29, 30). Jesus made it clear that God is the author of marriage (Matthew 19:4 – 6) and even performed His first miracle at a wedding feast (John 2:1 – 11). The writer of Hebrews clearly stated that God wanted marriage to be an honored and protected institution (Hebrews 13:4). God insists that romantic love be kept within His moral bounds. That would surely apply to songs about romantic love as well.
Many of us can think of at least a dozen popular songs that have become staples at weddings. Words alone often fail us. From the beginning of time music has been used as a way to express our feelings that transcend mere propositions. Music was used by biblical authors and still can be used by believers today to encourage other believers, express anger and to consider the wonders of romantic love.
(1) Name 3 songs (religious or secular) that remind you about the place of God in your life.
(2) Name 2 songs that stir a righteous anger within you toward injustice and evil.
(3) Name 1 song that celebrates godly, romantic love.
(4) In your prayer time thank God for caring about our emotions and giving us opportunities to express those emotions through music.