“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
Have you ever wondered why we sing so many songs at Christmastime?
Whether sacred Advent hymns (“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”), or beloved Christmas carols (“O Holy Night”), or childhood favorites like “Frosty the Snowman,” or schmaltzy pop hits like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” this season is jam-packed with songs. I swear, radio stations started playing Christmas music before Halloween this year.
Today’s passage from Isaiah can help us understand why the world is filled with songs every December. Twice the prophet tells us to sing: “Sing praises” (v. 5) and “sing for joy” (v. 6).
Isaiah doesn’t only tell us to sing, though. He also tells us why we sing.
We sing because we have a particular kind of joy: “With joy [we] will draw water from the wells of salvation” (v. 3). And we sing “for joy… for great in [our] midst is the Holy One of Israel” (v. 6). We are joyful during Christmas because our salvation has come in the person of Jesus Christ, God with us.
Notice the connection between singing and salvation in verse 2: Isaiah says that the Lord God is “my song” and that he has become “my salvation.” God our song has become God our salvation. And so, in response to God — our song and salvation — Christians are people who sing.
And because of the salvation God has provided, we “sing praises, for he has done gloriously” (v. 5). Is there anything more glorious than this good news of great joy? For unto us is born the Savior, Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10–11).
Isaiah teaches us that all of these things — joy, salvation, the Holy One of Israel, and singing — are a package deal.
If that’s not a reason to sing, I don’t know what is.
Josh Bishop is the web content manager at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.