The Holy Spirit brought the following scripture passage to my mind today:
But none saith, Where is God my maker,
who giveth songs in the night;
who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth,
and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?
This lead me to look up a sermon by CH Spurgeon (that famously devout Christian from yesteryear) called “Songs in the Night.” The entire article can be found here:
Some helpful points:
1. Why be joyful in adversity?
The natural man finds it almost impossible to do this unless his spirit sings, as per the beautiful poem below:
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress…
(from “Sailing to Byzantium” by Yeats)
Any Israelite could have sung a song like that of Moses – “The horse and his rider has he hurled into the sea”; the difficulty would have been, to compose a song before the Red Sea had been divided, and to sing it before Pharaoh’s army had been drowned, yet while the darkness of doubt and fear was resting on the people of Israel. Songs in the night come only from God; they are not in the power of man.
2. What makes songs in the night more excellent than other songs?
a. If you can sing under pain and penalty, it shows your heart to be in the song.
Think of Oscar Wilde’s description of the Nightingale and the Rose, where the little bird sings “of the Love that is perfected by Death, of the Love that dies not in the tomb.” When the little bird is singing, the bitter pains of death have touched her, yet she sings to make a white rose crimson with her heart’s very blood. Can we too be as faithful as this little bird, and as Job in the holy scriptures, and say: “Though He slays me, yet will I hope in Him?”
b. The songs we sing in the night will be lasting.
They will fuel the fire of your faith even when death and you are having the last tug of war. We sing of Jesus’ power to save, not rowdy drinking songs or other lighter melodies, and this message fires the heart with undying hope.
c. The songs we sing in the night are those that show we have real faith in God.
Those with true faith sing even when they can’t see God’s providence in their lives. They can maintain faith in God even when they can’t detect His presence.
d. Songs in the night prove that we have true courage.
Many sing in the day who are silent at night; they are afraid of thieves and intruders; but the Christian who sings in the night proves himself to be a courageous character. It is the bold Christian who can sing God’s songs in the darkness.
e. He who sings in the night proves that he has true love for Christ.
It is not love to Christ to praise Him while everybody else praises Him; to walk arm-in-arm with Him when He has the crown on His head is no great deed, but to walk with Christ in rags is something.
To believe in Christ when He is shrouded in darkness, to stick close to the Saviour when all those around you mock and forsake Him – that is true faith. They who sing a song to Christ in the night, sing the best song in the entire world; for they sing from the heart.
3. What is the use of songs in the night?
a. It will cheer us up.
There is nothing like singing to keep your spirits alive. In particular, the devil hates Christ-honouring music…remember Saul’s days, when an evil spirit rested on him? It only departed when David played on his harp and sang.
If we too can begin to sing, we will chase away our fears. Keep your mouth full of songs and you will often keep your heart full of praises; keep on singing as long as you can; you will find it a good way to drive away your fears.
b. God loves to hear his people sing in the night.
It shows true faith, as stated earlier.
c. Singing in the night will cheer your companions.
If any of them are going through the valley of darkness with you, it will be a great comfort to them.
Christian, when you are in trouble, sing; you don’t know who is near you. Sing! Perhaps you will help and maybe get a good companion by doing it. Sing! Perhaps there will be many hearts cheered by your song. Sing! There is some poor distressed brother, perhaps, shut up in the Castle of Despair, who, like King Richard, will hear your song inside the walls, and sing back to you, and you may be the means of getting him a ransom.
Sing, Christian, wherever you go; try, if you can, to wash your face every morning in a bath of praise. When you wake up in the morning, never seek out another human until you have first sought out your God; and after you have spent time with Him, then seek out others with your face beaming with joy; be happy for the sake of other Christians; it will tend to cheer them up, and help them through the valley.
d. One more reason, and I know it will be a good one for you. Try and sing in the night, Christian, for that is one of the best arguments in the entire world in favour of your religion.
For example, you are sick; there is your neighbour, who laughs at religion; let him come to your house. When he was sick…he was fretting, and fuming, and whining, and making all kinds of noises. When you are sick, send for him; tell him that you are resigned to the Lord’s will; that you will kiss the chastening rod; that you will take the cup and drink it, because your Father gives it. You needn’t make a boast of this, or it will lose all its power; but do it because you can’t help doing it. Your neighbour will say, “There is something in that.”
And when you are come near to your grave – he was there once, and you heard how he shrieked, and how frightened he was – give him your hand, and say to him, “Ah! I have a Christ who will be with me in my death; I have a religion that will make me sing in the night.” Let him hear how you can sing, “Victory, victory, victory!” through Him that loved you.
We may preach fifty thousand sermons to prove the gospel, but we will not prove it half as well as you will by singing in the night. Keep a cheerful disposition; keep a happy heart; keep a contented spirit; keep your eyes looking up, and your heart aloft, and you will prove Christianity better than all the wise men who ever lived. Give them the analogy of a holy life, and then you will prove religion to them; give them the evidence of internal holiness (which is a matter of the heart), developed externally, and you will give the best possible proof of Christianity. Try and sing songs in the night; for they are so rare, that if you can sing them, you will honour your God and bless your friends.