It is interesting how listening to the dulcet tones of Emmylou Harris can make a man consider the nature of the promises of God, but one thing it highlights is that condescending blessing that God gives to mankind and through it all those who have been given ears to hear can even gain a greater knowledge of the truth in His divine plan for all eternity. Yet this understanding really and honestly knows the limitation of such things which calls the people of God to a clearer revelation.
There is much in the Christian life which leads the people of God along the kind of bread trail that Hansel and Gretel followed (and obviously to a better end than they met in the original fairy tale). These crumbs of common grace remind us of the honorable way that God has called His people to give thanks in everything for what the LORD has provided. One can be a Christian and give thanks for the work of unregenerate men to give joy to the heart of the believer. It is often the way in which God ironically condemns the wicked men in using his labor to benefit His people. The winepresser who gave the wine to the Psalmist may have been wicked, yet his work still brought joy to the heart of God’s king. It really is amazing sometimes how God makes plain the teachings of Holy Scripture through the most mundane and rote of situations to His glory. This is of course one of the blessings of the New Covenant and Regulative Worship, but that is for another day.
This is kind of an indirect line to consider the perfection of the covenant which has been secured through the pactum salutis and via that rock-solid agreement for the sinner’s place in the Kingdom of God, but it is one of the many ways through which God can even make a modest graduate of that school on the Allegheny understand God’s merciful work through the finished work of His Son.
It is also in the midst of considering these wonderful things that one is called in praise to humbly deliver themselves into an almost euphoric thanksgiving for the manner in which the Trinity conceived to consider the clay in the Potter’s Hand for the grace of salvation. Not to go back into a rut, but this is one of the blessings of singing the Psalms prepared from the foundation of the World. They are literally the given declarations of God for the people of God from their own mouths throughout the generations. It is striking the way folks kick against the goads in this respect to this in our day. It really is strange the way this happened over the last several generations. To go back even further it almost makes one laugh to think how blindingly arrogant Isaac Watts must have been to think he could improve the Psalms for corporate worship. Yet that kind of thinking was hardly new then or new today.
On another note I often receive some flack from certain corners for listening to the heavier end of the musical range, yet one of the things that calls me back to it is the way in which it speaks to the nature of fallen man in a real, and gritty sort of way. There is little pretension in its calls for help and deliverance and while it seeks these answers in all the wrong places it further grounds the truth that all men have fallen short of the glory of God almighty and are in need of the free offer of the Gospel found alone in the precious blood and perfect life of Jesus Christ. These cries for assistance from the fleshly things of the world go a long way to reminding this gross sinner of the amazing mercy that the creator of Heaven and Earth has unfairly poured out upon me. Who am I that the Holy One above all should regenerate my heart and call me by that sweet voice of the Holy Spirit and bring me through His adopting love into the family of God? What a wretched sinner I be! Yet it is in the midst of these things that the Covenant of Grace has its greatest peace.
An illustration of this can be found in the aforementioned Psalter. Hear Asaph’s plea from Psalm 74:
For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers.The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter. Remember this, that the enemy hath reproached, O Lord, and that the foolish people have blasphemed thy name. O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever. Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise thy name.
I have highlighted two sentences from this Psalm to meditate a bit on for a moment. Firstly Asaph says, “For God is my King of old” in response to his earlier pleas in this Psalm for the LORD not to forsake His people. Notice how he comforts himself with both the sovereignty and the eternality of God. Likewise his whole hope and the very ground of his own salvation is in this truth. Secondly Asaph calls upon the covenant in confidence that God shall respond to this plea. He knows that his only recourse in the midst of wicked men and the machinations of the evil one is to flee to the covenant and its attending promises. Sometimes in Reformed theology the word covenant can become wooden and lose the sweetness of its flame, developing into a cog in an argument instead of retaining its mystical beauty. It really is an amazing grace that the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth has called us into union with Him through the bond of love made between the First and Second persons of the Trinity. Who is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man that you would visit him with these manifold blessings?
To kind of close out these late night ramblings I guess the main point of all of this was to show, yet again, the many ways through which God has not only reminded me of the dark heart of man (and myself) through this gift of song, but also the interesting ways God uses the common benevolences of this fallen world in the service of calling to mind His covenant faithfulness and how all these things work together in the service of its Creator.