Well over a decade ago, during my sophomore year in college at Liberty University, I was led to Psalm 13 where David expresses life’s frustrations, but remembers the faithfulness of God. I remember how God was dealing with me regarding my personal relationship with Him and I knew my next steps were to start hiding His word in my heart (Psalm 119:11).
The year before, I discovered that I loved songwriting…so I decided that Psalm 13 needed a melody. Jon, my best friend in college, sat down at the piano in prayer chapel and figured out the chords for this new melody I sang to him. “Psalm 13“ended up being a song that I was given the opportunity to share with the entire student body at LU during convocation.
Here recently, due to a number of things, God had me revisit this psalm and since i’ve been in full-time ministry, verse 6 has been one of my life verses. Here, David says “I will sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” In meditating on that scripture, God gave me another melody for a new chant simply entitled “Bountifully”!
When I looked up different bible versions of verse 6, I noticed that some of them…like the NIV…replaced the words “dealt bountifully with me” with “been good to me”! Yes MANY scriptures declare that the Lord is good, but it looks like David was trying to communicate something more. The definition of “bountifully” means for someone to be dealt with according to what they deserve. I know what I deserve and it is NOT eternal life and favor. “Bountifully” in Psalm 13:6 means that God actually deals with us according to His grace and mercy which also means He is more than good. (Good=enough; Bountifully=more than enough)
Suggest prayer: Lord, thank You for the infinite grace and mercy that You provide. You continue to deal with me according to Your love and favor in my life. Help me to realize how faithful You are during life’s storms. Lord, please continually remind us that You are and will always be more than enough.
Have you ever dissected a song to see what it was really about? Think about your favorite song. It could be anything from a love song about your significant other or a song about the Lord. For instance, many of the most popular R&B or country songs focus on heartache, heartbreak, depression and unfaithfulness. These are the songs that people love to sing over and over again, maybe because those topics are (unfortunately) relatable to their real lives. These songs immediately place us in a different time and place mentally; they bring out real emotions. As a lover of music, I am that guy who puts my favorite songs on repeat! However, as a worship leader, it causes me to take a step back and wonder if we truly consider what we are singing, especially in church when worshiping God.
I’ve had this conviction for a while now. Looking back, I wasn’t introduced to gospel contemporary music until I was an adolescent. I grew up in an old family-filled Baptist church where we sang hymns from the red book (with the church’s name engraved in gold) and gospel quartet music with my family’s group. The new contemporary styles of music with the different harmonies were fascinating, but also very challenging to learn in the beginning. When I was introduced to “praise & worship” music, I felt that the songs were impactful and emotional. As I grew older, I found that many of them focused on our issues and the praise came at the thought of what we could obtain from the Lord. Back in 2000 at Liberty University, I was exposed to the christian contemporary genre. The music wasn’t complex at all, but the lyrics were overwhelmingly rooted in scripture. It was as if each song communicated the gospel message and that upward focus helped change my entire approach to music ministry.
I believe that Colossians 3:1-2 gives us (worship leaders) a challenge as we minister songs. It says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” It is necessary for our hearts and minds to look up to God because of who He is in our lives. I would suggest that our problems are “earthly things” and there are many songs being ministered during times of worship that focus on US and not Christ. I do believe that there is a time for these “inward-focused” inspirational and encouraging songs. I would like to think that those songs would still be about thanking God and celebrating the fact that He has made us co-heirs with Christ. Even then, God’s intentions are that we first be willing to share in Christ’s “sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:17)!
As ministers of music, worship pastors, worship leaders and volunteers, our charge is to focus hearts and minds on God and His infinite grace and mercy. We are to guide those same hearts and minds to a place of humility. This is done by singing songs that remind us of the gospel. If there be any focus on us, let it be about our sinfulness, our need for a Savior, and our constant need to repent then turn away from our sins. Are we thinking about what we are singing and presenting to our congregations? Lets remember that the body of Christ is edified through worship when our spirits and minds are focused properly on Him. (1 Cor. 14:15).
Suggested Prayer: God we thank You for who You are in our lives. Father, we are grateful for the task You have given us to lead Your people in worship. Allow us to focus on the songs that bring glory to You and that take attention away from ourselves. God You know all and our trust is in You. Help us to better understand Your desire for real spirit and truth worship. Help us to lead by Your word and by Your spirit.
GAVIN MCKINLEY DAVIS
WORSHIP LEADER | MCLEAN BIBLE CHURCH
Music and songs are created by God to worship Him, giving Him glory, honor and praise. Psalm 98:4-7 says “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.” God has given us the ability to create beautiful music and rich harmonies to be an appreciative response to all that He has done for us! I would even suggest that these “new songs” are to be in response to the “new mercies” (Lamentations 3:23) we see each day we are blessed to open our eyes.
While playing music and singing songs are ways to worship the Lord, we must understand that God desires and seeks it. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) We can also see Christ’s desire for worship in the story of the “Ten Lepers” from Luke 17:12-19 where it says “As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” By Jesus asking the healed foreigner “Where are the other nine?”, we see that He desired the same (loud and expressive) praise from the other healed men. As servants of Christ specifically in worship ministry, lets remember that the Lord truly wants, but more overly expects our praise and worship.
Songs keep the message of Christ in our hearts which means they also help us submit to the Lord in our daily walk, resisting the enemy (James 4:7). Through songs we can develop and maintain a heart of humility. Colossians 3:16 says “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Wisdom is found in the scriptures and the songs that we sing to the Lord are scripturally based. Therefore, through music, I learn scriptural content that builds my faith “in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Suggested Prayer: Lets thank the Lord for creating music and songs (instruments, providing our musical abilities and our voices, melody and harmony, words through scripture) for us to sing to Him with hearts of gratitude. Ask God to keep your hearts and minds focused on the message of Christ. Pray that it dwells in you richly so that you will always recognize His goodness and never forget to worship Him for it. Finally, with hearts of humility, thank God for using you to lead others closer to Him through music.
GAVIN MCKINLEY DAVIS
WORSHIP LEADER | MCLEAN BIBLE CHURCH