Text: I Corinthians 14:15-20
I. Singing is an expression of joy - James 5:13
A. It is form of worship and a way of teaching - Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:16-17
B. Of course, people sing things all the time without thinking about what they are saying – just ask kids today what are the lyrics to some of their favorite songs.
C. Songs aren’t meaningful if you don’t know what you are singing. You can’t really worship if you don’t know what you are saying to God. You can’t really teach if you don’t know what you are exhorting - I Corinthians 14:15-16
II. Many of our hymns come from the 1800's or even earlier. Some started in other languages and were translated to English. Often words were used that have changed meaning or are no longer used.
A. Soldiers of Christ Arise
1. The third verse: “But take to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God.”
2. Panoply - a complete display of everything pertaining to a subject
3. So in this case a soldier’s full armament - Ephesians 6:10-19
B. Nailed to the Cross
1. “He is tender and loving and patient with me, while He cleanses my heart of its dross, but there’s no condemnation, I know I am free, for my sins are all nailed to the cross.”
2. Dross - the scum of impurities that form on the top of molten metal as it is being refined
3. Our sins are seen as dross that needs refining and removal through trials - Zechariah 13:9; Proverbs 25:4-5
C. The Banner of the Cross
1. “There’s a royal banner given for display to the soldiers of the King; as an ensign fair we lift it up today, while as ransomed ones we sing.”
2. Ensign - a flag with a symbol on it which becomes a rallying point during battles
3. The cross, not a physical object, but what it represents becomes the Christian’s rallying point - John 12:32; I Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 6:14
D. Near the Cross
1. The fourth verse: “Near the cross I’ll watch and wait, hoping trusting ever, till I reach the golden strand, just beyond the river.”
2. Also I Have Heard of a Land: “I have heard of a land on a faraway strand.”
3. Today strand means a thin piece of thread that makes up a rope.
4. But it used to mean a shoreline or a beach. We still use it in a similar fashion to say he was stranded on a deserted island.
5. These songs refer to crossing the Jordan River, a symbol of passing through death to reach the promise land of heaven and stepping on the shores of heaven - Deuteronomy 3:25
E. Night with Ebon Pinion
1. “Night with ebon pinion, brooded o’er the vale.”
2. Ebon - a deep shade of black, like the ebony keys on a piano
3. Pinion - a bird’s wing
4. Brooded - a bird settling on its nest
5. Vale - a valley
6. An image of the sorrowful night of Jesus betrayal is depicted as a dark night covering the valley near Jerusalem like a black bird flying over and settling in the valley.
III. Some songs require more knowledge of the Bible
A. Send the Light
1. “We have heard the Macedonian call today, send the light, send the light.”
2. When Paul when on his second journey to preach the gospel, he wasn’t allowed to go where he thought he should, but he received a vision - Acts 16:9
3. The point is that all of us are being pleaded by the world to bring the gospel to them - Matthew 5:14-16
B. O Thou Fount of Every Blessing
1. “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.”
2. Because of Israel’s sins, God had the ark moved away for 20 years - I Samuel 7:1-2
3. Israel finally turned back to God - I Samuel 7:3-4
4. And God gave them a decisive victory - I Samuel 7:10-11
5. A memorial was raised to remember God’s help. Ebenezer is “a stone of help.”
6. Thus, only by God’s help have we come this far and received salvation and victory over Satan.
C. Faith is the Victory
1. “His banner over us is love.”
2. A reference to Song of Solomon 2:4. There the heroine is excited to see that her fiancé was signaling his love for her by his body language.
3. The point is that Christ, through his actions, has signaled his love for us - John 15:13
D. A Mighty Fortress
1. “Lord Sabaoth”
2. Sabaoth is the Hebrew word for armies.
3. God is depicted as the mighty leader of the whole hosts of heaven and earth ready to do as He directs - Romans 9:29; James 5:4
IV. When you run into words or phrases that you don’t understand, isn’t it worth finding out what you are saying? Then you can sing with spirit and with understanding!