I don’t know about you, but when I am in church singing songs to the Lord, I come alive. The Holy Spirit reaches within me, and God’s love reminds me of how blessed I am. This is a time to bless God and to be blessed by God. Now, with that said, one of the blessings/curses of being a student of theology is that occasionally during worship music time, I will begin to analyze what I am singing (fully distracted from the corporate worship experience!). Today I want to look at some of the theology of a song titled: Sing to the King.
Verse 1: Sing to the King Who is coming to reign
Glory to Jesus, the Lamb that was slain
Life and salvation His empire shall bring
And joy to the nations when Jesus is King
Chorus: Come, let us sing a song
A song declaring that we belong to Jesus
He is all we need
Lift up a heart of praise
Sing now with voices raised to Jesus
Sing to the King
Verse 2: For His returning we watch and we pray
We will be ready the dawn of that day
We’ll join in singing with all the redeemed
‘Cause Satan is vanquished and my Jesus is King
This is a song that has several theological themes. A primary one is that it sees Jesus as the coming King who will set up his reign on the earth. He is coming to rule this world the way it was meant to be. The nations of the earth will be under the rule of the empire of God, and will be at peace. I personally love this image because when I sing this I look forward to a world where the kingly voice from the throne says “I am making all things new.”
What does this song mean to the average worshipper? When this song is sung in worship gatherings throughout the world (especially in the West), what image comes to mind? I would imagine that many understand Jesus as coming to set up a “1000 year reign.” If this perspective is held, it is also safe to assume that after this 1000 years are up that Jesus will render the final judgment and will destroy the present world. At this point “all the redeemed” will go to heaven for eternal bliss.
I want to say, that the above interpretive image is theologically ridiculous! We are singing to the King who will come to earth to reign; not for a literal one thousand years (1000 is a euphemism in the Hebrew Scriptures meaning ‘an uncountable length of time’), but for eternity in a healed universe! This will be our current world, but with something significantly different, the empires of oppression that are fueled by the demonic powers of evil will collapse when “Satan is vanquished and Jesus is king!” (Christus Victor). Jesus’ victory over the powers that was inaugurated in his resurrection will finally be consummated! So, may we in eager anticipation “for his retuning” live in such a way that “we will be ready the dawn of that day.”
This song begs the question in my life: What does it mean to live in light of that future reality? How does my life today prepare me for the future earthly reign of the Messiah? I imagine that I will never fully answer that question, but it will continue to challenge me to live in further allegiance to my King, namely Jesus.
Some Questions for the reader: (1) What images have come to your mind when you have heard, sang, or read the lyrics to this song? (2) Are we too quick to accept the language of worship music in general without giving thought to the theological underpinnings of the song writer and the ramifications of this theology for the imagination of the church?