32. What does it mean to make music to the Lord in your heart?
Ephesians 5:18b-20. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NLT) “…making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” (ESV)
The NLT rendering of verse 19 (“making music to the Lord in your hearts”) could refer to the songs I sing in my mind or those I sing out loud when I am alone, as well as when I am singing in a congregation. But the emphasis would be on soul-deep worship.
The ESV wording implies energetic involvement in the process of making music to the Lord. According to O’Brien,* the ESV translation is more accurate. I am directed in Ephesians 5:19 to sing songs that build up other believers and that praise and worship God. But I am to do this enthusiastically, with my whole heart. Therefore, I sing with my thoughts (thinking about the words) and with my emotions. Often a meaningful hymn will cause me to tear up because of the combination of personally meaningful words and inspiring music. When words and music match in intensity and tone it stirs me deeply — to my soul. When I experience that deep emotion, I can turn its energy in the direction of God, praising Him for what is being expressed in that song.
I wonder if this verse could also include more than just singing or what we usually consider as music. I wonder if there are other forms of praise that appear before God as worship. Expressing any creative or artistic expression, whether it is vocal or instrumental music, or painting, or artistic photography, or sculpting, or dancing… Is it possible that if it comes from a grateful and worshipful heart it is translated into melody in the ears of God?
Father, hear my songs of gratitude and praise to You. Listen to my songs of desire for You and confession of my sins. Attend to my aching laments and bend Your ear to my cries for help. Thank You for the gift of music and creative expression. You have made us as creative beings and we worship You through those efforts. Amen.
*O’Brien, Peter T (1999). The Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, p 396.
From the personal devotional notes of Peggy McKechnie, certified life coach and follower after God’s own heart. You are invited to contact Peggy through ChurchHealthMinistries.com.