Singing the Songs of Zion


Elder Mark D. Rowell

Psalms 100:1-2 “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”


Singing is nothing new. People have been doing it since the beginning of time. There are so many scriptures throughout the entire Bible that deal with singing. Some are songs of mourning, while others of rejoicing, and some are for comforting those in trouble. Many of us enjoy music of different types and styles, and maybe even some silly songs that make us laugh. No matter that type or style, there is one type of singing that has no comparison in this world, and that’s the saints of God singing the songs of Zion! And while we often sing these songs in our cars, in our homes, and even by ourselves, there’s one place that brings the greatest joy of singing, and that’s in the House of the Lord. This world doesn’t understand and can’t comprehend the joy we feel when singing praises to God in His house.

When Israel was carried away to Babylon they were mocked by their captors. They were ridiculed because of how they worshipped. They were mocked with the very thing they were no longer able to do: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?”

Psalms 137:1-4 Oh what a mournful day! Here goes Israel into captivity. (I’ll skip through all the warnings to Israel and their rebellion against God, but suffice it to say that they grew complacent in the House of God and He turned them over to captivity.) Seventy long years of oppression in Babylon and no longer able to congregate on Zion’s hill and worship is where Israel found themselves. I’m convinced that Israel sang while in Babylon, but it wasn’t like singing on the mountain top. They longed to be home! The enemies of God today would like nothing more than to take away our place of worship like Babylon did to Israel. But God is not mocked! His prophets prophesied of the day of captivity, but they also prophesied of the great return!

“In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, “Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” Jer. 50:4 -5


Can you imagine that day? Oh what a day! A day of great rejoicing! The seventy years are over and God has required the restoration of Jerusalem! Don’t you just love the words of the prophet when he says “…they shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward…”? Can’t you just see their faces? That look of “WE’RE GOING HOME!” consuming them. The great anticipation of seeing Zion again was so great!

Even though we aren’t in the same type of captivity that these verses speak of, do we not rejoice when it’s time to go to Zion? You see, the singing praises didn’t end with the Old Testament. It carried right into the New Testament, and even to this very day! Our Lord set up His church during his earthly ministry and put in her all that He required, and one of those requirements was singing! He even did so by example when they finished with the Passover and the Lord’s Supper:  “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:30 That’s the Lord and his disciples singing in the church! They were doing what we are blessed to do today!

Singing is such and integral part of worship, my friends. It isn’t a “warm-up” to preaching. It isn’t something that we should omit from our worship. Whether you have a singing voice or not doesn’t matter. You see, our singing is spiritual; it comes from the heart. Yes we make audible sounds, but the sweet smelling savor to our Lord is coming from our hearts as He gives us grace to praise Him! The Apostle Paul believed in singing and pointed out both it’s purpose and mechanics:  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col. 3:17


Our singing should be done in wisdom (singing the truth, just like our ministry preaches the truth), and with teaching (encouragement to each other), and without man’s musical instruments, but with the “instrument” of our spiritual hearts!

Now, finally, let’s keep rejoicing brothers and sisters:

“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11

There is such great rejoicing in the church even to this day! That rejoicing is due to the manifold goodness of our Lord! So sing! Sing all ye saints! Sing, both old and young! Rejoice in His goodness! Oh, He is so precious to us! We cannot contain His blessings in Zion, so sing! My grandfather, Elder J.A. Rowell, Sr. used to close associations shouting “Sing on, singers! Pray on sisters! Preach on preachers!” I imagine his rejoicing was such that he struggled to contain himself and wanted to encourage those congregations to rejoice with him! So come with me and let us rejoice! Isaac Watts penned the words that expresses our desires:

“Come we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known,
Join in a song with sweet accord, and thus surround the throne.
Then let our songs abound, and every tear be dry,
We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground, to fairer worlds on high.”

Let’s get to marching, saints!