True Education


Chapter 17—Poetry and Song

The earliest as well as the most sublime of poetic utterances known in literature are found in the Scriptures. Before the oldest of the world’s poets had sung, the shepherd of Midian recorded those words of God to Job—in their majesty unequaled, unapproached, by the loftiest productions of human genius: TEd 95.1

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? ...
Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth; ...
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
When I said, This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!”
Job 38:4-11.
See also Job 38:12-27; 38:31, 32.
TEd 95.2

For beauty of expression read also the description of springtime, from the Song of Songs: TEd 95.3

“Lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth her green figs,
And the vines with tender grapes
Give a good smell.
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
Song of Solomon 2:11-13.
TEd 96.1

And not inferior in beauty is Balaam’s unwilling prophecy of blessing to Israel Numbers 23:7-23; 24:4-6; 24:16-19. TEd 96.2

The melody of praise is the atmosphere of heaven, and when heaven comes in touch with the earth, there is music and song—“thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” Isaiah 51:3. TEd 96.3

Above the newly created earth, as it lay fair and unblemished under the smile of God, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. So human hearts, in sympathy with heaven, have responded to God’s goodness in notes of praise. Many of the events of human history have been linked with song. TEd 96.4

The earliest song recorded in the Bible from human lips was that glorious outburst of thanksgiving by the hosts of Israel at the Red Sea: TEd 96.5

“I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.”
Exodus 15:1, 2.
See also Exodus 15:6-11, 18-21.
TEd 96.6

Great have been the blessings received by human beings in response to songs of praise. The few words recounting an experience of the wilderness journey of Israel have a lesson worthy of our thought: “They went to Beer, which is the well where the Lord said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, and I will give them water.’” Numbers 21:16. Then Israel sang this song: TEd 96.7

“Spring up, O well! All of you sing to it.
The well, the leaders sank,
Dug by the nation’s nobles,
By the lawgiver, with their staves.”
Numbers 21:17, 18.
TEd 97.1

How often in spiritual experience is this history repeated! How often by words of holy song are unsealed in the soul the springs of penitence and faith, of hope and love and joy! TEd 97.2

With songs of praise the armies of Israel went forth to the great deliverance under Jehoshaphat. To Jehoshaphat had come the news of threatened war. “A great multitude is coming against you,” was the message—“the people of Moab, and the people of Ammon, and others with them besides.” “And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” And Jehoshaphat, standing in the temple court before his people, poured out his soul in prayer, confessing Israel’s helplessness and pleading God’s promise. “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us,” he said, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 2 Chronicles 20:2, 1, 3, 12. TEd 97.3

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, a Levite, and he said, “Listen, all you of Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. ... You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. ... Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:14-17. TEd 97.4

“So they rose early in the morning, and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa.” 2 Chronicles 20:20. Ahead of the army went singers, lifting their voices in praise to God—praising Him for the victory promised. TEd 97.5

Four days later the army returned to Jerusalem, laden with the spoil of their enemies, singing praise for the victory won. TEd 97.6

Through song, David, amidst the vicissitudes of his ever-changing life, held communion with heaven. How moving are his experiences as a young shepherd reflected in the words: TEd 97.7

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters. ...
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
TEd 97.8

Psalm 23:1-4, KJV. TEd 98.1

In his manhood a hunted fugitive, finding refuge in the rocks and caves of the wilderness, he wrote: TEd 98.2

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. ...
You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”
Psalm 63:1, 7.
See also Psalm 42:11; 27:1.
TEd 98.3

The same trust is breathed in David’s words written when, as a dethroned and crownless king, he fled from Jerusalem at the rebellion of Absalom. Spent with grief and the weariness of his flight, he and his company had stopped beside the Jordan for a few hours’ rest. He was awakened by the summons to immediate flight. The deep and swift-flowing stream must be crossed in the darkness by that whole company of men, women, and little children, for approaching them rapidly were the forces of the traitor son. TEd 98.4

In that hour of darkest trial, David sang: TEd 98.5

“I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. ...
I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.”
Psalm 3:4-6.
TEd 98.6

After his great sin, in the anguish of remorse and self-abhorrence, he still turned to God as his best friend: TEd 98.7

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. ...
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:1-7.
TEd 98.8

In his long life, David found on earth no resting place. “We are aliens and pilgrims before You,” he said, “as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope.” 1 Chronicles 29:15. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” See Psalm 46:4-7. TEd 99.1

Jesus in His earthly life met temptation with a song. Often when enemies spoke sharp, stinging words, often when the atmosphere about Him was heavy with gloom, dissatisfaction, distrust, or oppressive fear, His song of faith and holy cheer was heard. TEd 99.2

On that last sad night of the Passover supper, as He was about to go forth to betrayal and death, His voice was lifted in the psalm: TEd 99.3

“Blessed be the name of the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord’s name is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:2, 3. See also
Psalm 116:1-8.
TEd 99.4

In earth’s last great crisis, God’s light will shine brightest amidst the deepening shadows. The song of hope and trust will be heard in clearest and loftiest strains. TEd 99.5

“Those of steadfast mind
You keep in perfect peace—
In peace because they trust in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.”
Isaiah 26:1-4, NRSV.
TEd 99.6