Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1961
NUMBER 35, PAGE 4,13b

Songs In The Night


"But none saith, Where is God my Maker, Who giveth songs in the night." (Job 35:10)

This is a brief quotation from Elihu in a speech in which he was accusing Job of presumptuousness and self-righteousness. It seems strange to think of "songs in the night" as coming from the book of Job. One would suppose rather to find such language (as one does) on the lips of David, the sweet singer of Israel. This is in character for him. "In the night his song shall be with me," (Psalm 42:8) "I call to remembrance my song in the night." (Psalm 77:6) "I have remembered thy name, 0 Jehovah, in the night." (Psalm 119:55)

To the ancient Hebrew, even more than to us, the night stood for danger and doubt and sin and sorrow and death. The "songs in the night" were songs that rose out of this darkness of the spirit. They were the soul's cry to a God who had not forsaken, but who was ever near to comfort and console.

As a new year begins its course in the long, long stream of history, there is an urgent, almost desperate, need for Christians in every land to think once again of the meaning and significance of their dedication to Christ; and from that thinking, even in the darkness of doubt and despair and fear, there may arise from their hearts those "songs in the night" which strengthen, encourage, and enlarge us with the certainty of God's nearness.

Of all the "songs in the night" to which reference is made in the Scripture, none seems quite so poignant, quite so moving as the song of Paul and Silas as they were sore and bleeding from their wounds that lonely night in the Philippian jail. The promising start that had been made for the Truth in Philippi now seems doomed to total failure. The cruel beatings they had received at the hands of the mob, the unjust and false charges that had been made against them, the dark loneliness of the midnight hour must have combined to bring a spirit of utter futility to these two servants of God as they sat there with their feet fast in the stocks. But God had not forsaken them — and they had not forgotten God.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns unto God, and the prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25) From this simple, yet eloquent statement, a whole new view is presented to us of these two men. Defeated? discouraged? despairing? Not so you could notice it!! Their voices ring out in those prison walls in hymns of praise and in prayer to their Father. These men are Christians, followers of the Son of God. They cannot be frightened nor cowed by beating and imprisonment. Theirs is a dedication of all of life, and for as long as life may last. The imprisonment is but an incident along the way. Their lives are committed; their course is set. Neither the flattery of friends nor the opposition of foes can move them. They truly are living a "life apart" from the ordinary things that bring either happiness or grief to the sons of men.

One thing that must have contributed greatly to their joy in this dark midnight hour was the certainty that through Jesus Christ they had obtained the favor of God, the forgiveness of their sins. To a sensitive conscience there is no burden quite so appalling as the feeling of guilt, the recognition that one is unworthy, unclean, and undeserving. The holy Isaiah felt this burden so heavily that he cried out, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (Isa. 6:5) Even Paul referred to himself as the "chief" of sinners, and that many years after he had obtained pardon. This recognition of guilt gave depth to the gratitude felt by those who had been saved; it is a quality sorely missing from much of our contemporary Christianity.

Sickness, sorrow, sin, and death are the common lot of us all. This is the heritage of humanity, the curse which came through Adam, and which can be relieved only through Christ. If Christ does not free us from the consequences of Adam's fall, then all are doomed to eternal and hopeless death. But through Christ salvation is possible; death and despair need not reign over us. And even in the midst of death, surrounded by despair, the Christian finds time to sing his "songs in the night." He has correctly gauged the measure of life; he understands the meaning of death. And life is not so sweet, nor death so terrible, that he is either hopelessly enraptured of the one or terrified of the other. Indeed, both life and death are but incidents in something far greater and more important — the "oneness" with Christ. Because Paul and Silas had that unity with Christ, and understood the power of God, their songs rang out through the prison walls, stilling the other prisoners into rapt attention.

A new year has dawned. Let every one who has named the name of Christ determine to make this a year of growth — growth into the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." And for those who are not Christians (and many thousands of them have the opportunity to read this page — whether they read it or not, we do not know) we have only words of urgent pleading and exhortation. Life is short; our years are uncertain. Let TODAY be the day of decision, the hour in which the soul is committed to God, to yield in total obedience to his every command.

— F. Y. T.