To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
1 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. Psalms 40:1-3 (KJV)
This is the second of two installments – read the first here.
Many of David’s songs begin with these words “To the chief Musician…” and many contain additional instructions or background information about the songs. Some versions of the Bible don’t display them as a part of the numbered chapter / verse structure, so we treat them like extra material – footnotes. But these headings were a part of the original text, they are very much a part of the Word of God, and they deserve our attention as much as the words that follow…
We learn something about the New Song that David sung – and perhaps our New Song – in paying close attention to these notes. What do these notes to the Chief Musician reveal about our New Song?
My song may sound better on certain instruments:
To the Chief Musician. With stringed instruments. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David. Psalms 6
There may be a certain environment in which the song will thrive. It will be more meaningful to some than to others. It may be more effective when played on a single mom, or a businessman, or an orphaned child.
What instruments might make your song more powerful?
My song may be very similar to someone else’s:
To the Chief Musician. To the tune of ‘Death of the Son.’ A Psalm of David. Psalms 9
I don’t have to worry that the music is absolutely original… It won’t be. But there will be a message in my song that adds a twist to someone else’s. The verse that I write will make it more relevant, more enjoyable…
Go ahead – compliment someone else’s song with your own verse. In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses truth will be established… 2 Cor 13:1.
Some of my songs are born when I am misunderstood, mistreated, and alone:
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, ‘David has gone to the house of Ahimelech.’ Psalms 52
Some of the loneliest times in your life will prove to be the most productive. As a matter of fact – most of David’s songs were written when he was all alone. Who can write with lots of noise around them?
So people don’t understand you? You’re being mistreated? You’ve been sold out by a friend? A song is on it’s way…
Some of my best songs may be born out of my failure:
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Psalms 51
You might be thinking “My life is plagued with failure – not much to sing about…” This note prefaces what may be one of the most beautiful and most repeated of David’s songs. And your best songs will come from your failures, too. Whoever has been forgiven much, loves much… (Luke 7:47)
My song may have a particular theme:
To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘The Lilies.’ A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A song of Love. Psalms 45
You may be all about business. You may be all about children. And not everyone may want to hear a song of love. But someone who is flipping through the dial is in an amorous mood!
Regardless of the theme of your song – someone really needs to hear it.
My song may have a particular purpose:
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance. Psalms 70
Ultimately – there is a purpose for my song. At the right time, in the right place – God intends for it to DO something.
To the Chief Musician… Thank you for helping me with my New Song… Even if I’m only a one-hit wonder – I know that somewhere, sometime – my song will change someone’s life.