Enough of Love: Rage Is Here

Norbert Lieth

Modern songs are getting angrier. The prophetic Word of Scripture shows why this is so. An explanation of two musical paths that appear in the Bible.

The February 2019 issue of Swiss magazine Coopzeitung features a narrative entitled “An End to Love and Peace.” It states that, unlike in the past, songs today express more anger and grief: “Cheerful songs about exuberant dancing and happy love are a thing of the past.” This finding underlies a recent study from the USA. An analysis of over 6,000 hits from 1951 to 2016 gauged which feelings, words, and phrases were conveyed. While lyrics were rather cheerful in the 1950s, they have since become increasingly angry. “In the mid 90s anger grew especially strong until it reached a peak in 2015. However, the research team hasn’t explored why people seem to want to hear lyrics that are more and more angry or sad.”

God’s Word gives us an answer to this phenomenon.

The world’s stages are a reflection of the social condition. Holy Scripture has been recording such things for a long time, and we see once more how up-to-date its statements are. Billy Graham so aptly said, “The Bible is more modern than tomorrow morning’s newspaper.”

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul prophesied the following about the end times: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (2 Tim 3:1-3).

Despite prosperity, a social safety net, and decades of peace (in Europe as well as in America), man is rebellious, dissatisfied, and frustrated. In modern songs, anger and frustration are either roared out as expressions of anarchy, or sung out as introspective and melancholy expressions of self-doubt and meaninglessness. They talk about disappointment in love and all kinds of injustice, or let out boundless anger over anything and everything. The man of the last days is infected by the serpent’s venom. Everything is his enemy, and hated. Not infrequently, he even hates himself. He can’t stand anything or anyone, and the only thing that matters is him, if anything at all. These songs often sound like a child’s temper tantrum.

Songs influence a wide audience. But instead of building people up, they’re destroying. Humanity is becoming crueler, more hateful and annoyed. This is a sad picture of how far mankind has separated himself from God. Without the source of life, there is no water of life. Without peace with God, there is no peace, either with oneself or the environment. Isn’t this aggression also a cry for help? These songs aren’t just howling, they are a howl, a cry.

Thank God, there are also other songs, cheerful and uplifting, those that comfort or speak positively of love. But best of all is the singing of those who know Jesus and the boundless love of God, and grasp it in faith.

“I will sing of Jesus’ love,
Sing of Him who first loved me;
For He left bright worlds above,
And died on Calvary.

I will sing of Jesus’ love,
Endless praise my heart shall give;
He has died that I might live,
I will sing [of] His love to me.”

Or, to say it with a Bible verse, “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” (Psalm 7:17).

Two threads of music have always run through human history. One goes back to the line of Cain, which states, “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden” (Gen 4:16).

In Cain, we see the path of the flesh or the seed of the serpent (Gen 3:15). The first urban builder came from his lineage (Gen 4:17). There is often an accumulation of evil in cities. Perhaps that was the reason it was said of Jesus, “And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there” (Matt 21:17). The first human to take two wives, become a violent offender, and boast proudly was also one of Cain’s descendants (Gen 4:19-24). Similarly, a man named Jubal, who became the inventor of music and musical instruments, also came from the lineage of Cain (Gen 4:21). We can assume from the context that it wasn’t exactly spiritual music, but music that, like Cain himself, led away “from the presence of the LORD.” If Ezekiel 28:13 refers to Satan, as many interpreters suggest, then we see that he has some power over music and can definitely influence it: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God […] the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”

The other musical thread originates in the descendants of Seth. Seth was born in the place of Abel, whom Cain had murdered. In his days “began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (Gen 4:26). This is in stark contrast to the line of Cain.

Seth’s descendants eventually sprang from Noah, who was considered just before God and was saved through the flood. One of his sons was Shem; a descendant of Shem was Abraham, and finally came Israel. The Jewish king David came from Israel’s lineage, and it is said he was a musical inventor: “[…] and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David” (Amos 6:5).

It was David who, through his music, brought rest to the burdened King Saul: “And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (1 Sam 16:23).

David introduced singing and music-making to glorify the Lord in the temple: “And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals” (2 Sam 6:5).

So, in the Bible, we discover two musical paths: an ungodly one that leads away from Him, and one that praises God and points to Him. But only those who have a living relationship with God can praise Him. The Bible says of them, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19).

For all who want to join in this song, the words of Johannes Evangelista Gossner (died in 1858) are fitting: “Whoever wants to enjoy the highest delight that a man can have on earth, seeks the nearness of God and Jesus Christ.”

Midnight Call - 08/2019

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