So You Think You Can Sing?

Today's journey through Scripture took me to one of my favourite passages in 2 Chronicles 20. Let me summarize for you. Jehoshaphat (one of the good guys) is faced with a big problem. An army is headed toward Jerusalem with unfriendly intentions. The king calls for people to fast and seek the Lord. Excellent move. Jehoshaphat personally leads the inquiries and in a beautiful prayer acknowledges the supremacy of God over everything, including Israel's enemies. He then throws himself, and his people, on the mercy of the God to whom they have committed themselves no matter what happens, as he says: "If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you" (20:9, 12, NIV).

In the history of the battles that Israel had to fight more often than not there is a detailed battle plan to be followed—even if the wisdom behind that plan is sometimes difficult to discern. Gideon facing an army of thousands with three hundred men armed with torches, pitchers and trumpets didn't sound like much of a plan but at least it was something. 

In Jehoshaphat's  case the plan would have cost an ordinary general all his stars and probably a charge of treason! God told the king and the people to march to the spot chosen for the battle and then just stand there. "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's…You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you" (20:15, 17, NIV).

Jehoshaphat and his people showed no doubt or fear. They immediately fell down to worship and praise God. On the following day they headed up to comply with God's instructions. The king encouraged the population to trust God and "After consulting with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying; 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.' As they began to sing and praise, the Lord sent ambushes again the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated" (20:21, 22, NIV).

I've heard of bad singing emptying a room, but that wasn't what happened here. The praise was simply a reflection of trust. The king and his people threw themselves on the mercy of God, knowing that "all's well that ends well" might not be their experience. But they trusted that at the end of the day and through whatever was to happen, God would deliver them.

Everything Jehoshaphat and his countrymen did went against all logic. For many people today, believing in any God defies logic, let alone going against the current and all reason to follow that God.

And what do I get from this story? There are lots of lessons here. But mostly I aspire to a faith that sings, not because I hope that the sound of my voice will scare away the boogeyman, but because I am already celebrating the faithfulness of God and certain victory.

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