Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 42. (MsgB)
A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.
As a long-time lover of contemporary music, Psalm 42 catches my attention. Up until this point in God’s songbook, we’ve been treated to songs written and performed by King David. But today, we find Psalm 42 opening up with this interesting header.
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
I did a little research and found that the sons of Korah were actually a musical pickup group recruited by King David in the early days of his kingship. If you’re not familiar with this story, let me tell it to you as I like to convey it. Keep in mind, I’ve taken just a few liberties here to make the story a bit more interesting for you, my dear reader! If you want the factual overview, just flip over to 1st Chronicles. It’s all there, trust me.
So here we go…
Once upon a time. Long, long ago. In a kingdom far away, there was a King named David. David loved music. He was a string player with a voice like an angel. Throughout his career, he was constantly writing songs. Most of them were God-songs with lyrics centering on his relationship with His Creator. Many of these songs were recorded for us in God’s book called the Bible. Unfortunately, there was no recording equipment available at the time, so we don’t know how David’s music sounded, but we have been left with his powerful lyrics.
So, one day, King David was sitting on his throne, listening to some music on his radio. This was early on in his kingship and the worship of God throughout Israel had deteriorated badly prior to his arrival on the throne. The previous king, King Saul, apparently had a really bad ear for music, so he never really cared much about the quality of music being played around his royal city. It actually got so bad at one point, some historians believe that Saul contracted with Muzak to pipe elevator music throughout the palace! Bottom line, music throughout Israel had lost its’ cutting edge, thus most music lovers were forced to listen to imported music. Much of the good stuff came via Egypt and other nearby countries. In truth, it had been such a long time since God’s people had written their own music, most of the local stations were forced to play country-music tunes performed by some long-haired pharaoh out of Cairo!
Now King David, being a music lover himself, knew that Israel had a marvelous history in writing some great God-music. So in a stroke of genius, David decided that Israel needed to bring the Ark of the Covenant back into Jerusalem so God’s people could return to the quality of music he had heard as a child. Masterpieces of music sung to God instead of little 3-minute ditties written about themselves.
So to make a short story even longer, David put out a casting call for local musicians. Many applied for the job, but David was most impressed by a singing trio going by the name of The Three Tops. Being a good record producer, King David signed the trio to a 10-year contract at the Palace, but he changed the name of the group to The Sons of Korah. And the rest, as they say, is music history.
Close friends knew these three guys as Asaph, Heman and Ethan. Now Ethan’s real name was actually Jeduthun, but his record producer thought that name was too complicated for radio DJs to pronounce, so he gave Jeduthun his stage name, Ethan. Their first number one single was “As a Deer Pants for Water” (Psalm 42). Over the years, it’s become my favorite drinking song! And as historians now agree, about a dozen psalms in the Bible are accredited to this famous trio hailing from Jerusalem.
So today, when we review the famous trios in the long history of pop music. Names like The Mills Brothers, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Supremes, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Nirvana, and Cream; please my friends, don’t forget to include, The Sons of Korah.
Three godly men who changed the course of music history for all of us.
My prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of music and thank You that You’ve always called certain individuals in each generation to give their life to writing music for Your honor and glory. The Sons of Korah did just that and may my generation be full of sons and daughters of Korah, writing and performing high praise to You, our Creator/King. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What would it look like in our generation to send out a casting call for more sons and daughters of Korah? Musicians who will take seriously their high calling from God to write and perform all kinds of high praise to the King of Kings? Are there musicians like that in my circle of influence today, and if so, what might I do to encourage their giftedness?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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