A little boy sat on the piano bench clumsily poking at the keys, pretending to read the open piece of sheet music. Deeply moved by the precious sight, Daddy sat beside him. “When you were in Mommy’s tummy,” he said to the boy, “I would often have her sit right here with me and I would play this very song to you.”
To the father’s utter surprise, the boy casually replied, “Oh, so that was you!”
Whether the little guy actually recalled hearing the father’s music or not, we do know that babies in the womb do hear many sounds from just the other side of the mother’s thin belly wall.
Do you? Hear the Father’s music, that is?
According to the prophet Zephaniah, God does, in fact, sing over you, and over me as well: “ ‘The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing’ ” (Zephaniah 3:17).
This is the Bible’s poetic way of telling us that God is very aware of us, very sensitive toward us, and that He is trying to get ideas about His love for us into our heads. So God sings. From just the other side of the thin wall that separates the seen from the unseen, He serenades our hearts, constantly whispering the truth of His love into our consciousness.
There is some real but inaudible sense in which God’s thoughts and feelings, like a song, are floating sweetly into our hearts. And as He sings over us, He is hoping we will hear His song and come to know His heart.
The very idea that God sings at all is actually quite an astounding revelation about the kind of Being this Almighty Creator must be. What kind of person sings anyway? Well, first of all, a very personal kind of person, someone with thoughts they want to express and feelings they want others to feel.
That’s the sort of God we’re dealing with here.
Not the “Unmoved Mover” kind of God Aristotle would have us imagine. Not the “impassible” and “deterministic” God of classical theism, which is merely a Christianized version of Aristotle’s God. Not the “impersonal force” or the “collective soul” of pantheism and Star Wars (“May the Force be with you!”). None of these match up with the character profile of the God revealed in Scripture.
A God who sings must be a God who feels, a God of deep, stirring passions. If God sings—and the Bible says He does—then we find ourselves living in the presence of a Supreme Being whose heart pulsates with supreme emotion. The implications are huge.
Some ancient Greek hippies called the Pythagoreans observed that all of creation is mathematical. Then they noticed that music is math. They realized that music is mathematically composed in such a manner that it creates new thoughts and feelings in the human soul. So they came up with a hypothesis that the Creator must be a singer, and He must have sung the universe into existence. The entire cosmos must operate on a musical score of some kind!
Who knows, maybe the Pythagoreans were right. Music is emotional math, after all, and the lyrics that attend music are simply emotionally rendered thoughts. The great composers believed they were giving musical voice to the beauties of creation through their art. Some of them claimed that music occurred to their imaginations as they observed the wonders of the world around them, as if they were hearing something that was already there. They thought they were engaged more in a process of discovering music than in a process of creating it.
The God of the Bible is the omnipotent Creator of all things. The sheer magnitude and gravity of the idea that there is such a Divine Being can be rather overwhelming and intimidating. Even terrifying. But if God sings . . . well, that changes everything. It opens our minds to the realization that within all this enormous power there beats a tender heart.
If God sings, we find ourselves standing in awe before the union of absolute might housed within infinite sensitivity. And it means even more. Because if God is a composer and singer of love songs, as Scripture says He is, that means He must be deeply in love with us, because only those who are in love sing love songs. And it must also mean that He wants us to hear Him, because singers who sing love songs sing to be heard by the ones they love.
The question is, Do we? Do we hear the divine music?
I’ll never forget my own, “Oh-so-that-was-you” awakening. I was eighteen years old. To that point I had never been exposed to the idea of God and had never read a single piece of religious literature. I knew absolutely nothing about God and very little about religion. Yet there were things I somehow did know, some of which I knew with intense conviction and strong emotions. I was filled with a palpable rage at the injustice and oppression in our world. I knew men shouldn’t abduct children and brutalize them. I knew men shouldn’t beat their wives. I knew nations shouldn’t drop bombs on one another, that one group of people shouldn’t starve to death while another group eats more than health requires, that drug dealers shouldn’t prey on kids, and that people shouldn’t hate others because they have a different skin color.
And I knew something more, something even more fundamental. I knew the fact that I knew certain things to be bad meant there had to be some actual and ultimate good that defined the bad by contrast. And sometimes I’d get glimpses of the good—like when I’d see a man love his child, or two children laughing their heads off enjoying one another’s friendship, or a person intervene with courage to stop an injustice, or when I’d encounter the beauty of nature, or even in the longing for love expressed in a song.
I knew all these things without knowing God. But as I realized later, I knew these things because He knew me. He had been singing to my soul all along, but I didn’t realize that it was Him.
Then the day came when my rage against evil and my desire for good to prevail found resonance in an encounter with the One who is the source of the good and the enemy of the bad. It was like putting a face with a name, or actually more like putting a name with a face. In my heart I had a strong sense of what the world might be like if no injustices were ever committed, if nobody ever violated anyone else, if everyone cared more about others than for themselves. When I realized that the Creator of our world was the matrix of the good I longed for, and that He hated all the evil and injury, I was like the little boy at the piano with his dad:
“Oh, so that was You!”
And it dawned on me that if I were merely an evolving animal, then no higher aspiration than survival would present itself to me. In a flash of insight I suddenly understood that I only hated evil because there is such a thing as evil, and that I only longed for goodness because there is such a thing as an ultimate good. And now I had located the absolute antithesis of evil and the absolute epicenter of goodness—in a personal God who had created humanity in His image. It was this God who, all my life, was interjecting a steady stream of moral stimuli into my conscience, guiding and prompting me. Now I knew the name of the One who had been singing over my soul all my life.
It was like the time I was driving down the road and I heard this amazing song on the radio. I felt I must hear it again. Grabbing a pen and a scrap of paper, I prepared to write the information down. But to my utter frustration, the DJ just went on his merry way, playing the next song and never identifying the source of the masterpiece that had captured my attention.
A couple of years passed by. Then one day a friend asked if I had ever heard Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I told him I had not. “You must hear it,” he insisted. A few days later, he gave me the CD as a gift, urging me to sit down immediately and listen to it with him.
As soon as the beautiful strings began to rise like morning sunlight breaking through the cold winter fog, I knew this was the song. “Yes, I know this song,” I told my friend. “I heard it once a couple of years ago and it’s been playing in my head ever since.”
I finally found the source of the song in my head.
Have you made the connection between the song of love that persists in your heart and its Divine Composer?