Any man can sing during the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it. When money is in plentiful supply, any man can praise the God who provides an abundant harvest or sends home a loaded ship. It is easy enough for a tuneful harp to whisper music when the winds blow; the difficulty is for music to carry when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but it takes a skillful singer whose song springs forth when there is not a ray of light to read by. No man can make a song in the night by himself; he may attempt it, but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired.
Let everything go well, then I can weave songs, fashioning them from the flowers that grow upon my path; but put me in a desert, where no green thing grows, and with what shall I frame a hymn of praise to God? How shall a mortal man make a crown for the Lord without jewels? Let this voice be clear and this body full of health, and I can sing God's praise: Silence my tongue, put me on a bed of suffering, and how will I then chant God's high praises, unless He Himself provides the song? No, it is not in man's power to sing when everything is against him, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lip.
It was a divine song from Habakkuk that filled the night when he sang, "Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."1 So, since our Maker gives "songs in the night," let us wait upon Him for the music. Chief musician, let us not remain songless because we face affliction, but tune our lips to the melody of thanksgiving.
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.