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September 10, 2019

The God Hunt – A 40 Day Soul Safari, Day 16

“I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:13-14 (NIV)

When you and I connect with the source of hope, we can sing the song of hope! The Psalmist describes this in his own life when he wrote, “I was pushed back and about to fall….”  That sounds like a hopeless situation to me.  Yet this Psalm became a song that was sung by the Jews on many occasions when they found themselves overwhelmed and outnumbered. They were pushed back and about to fall – BUT…!  I love this next part of the Psalm because its where the source of hope enters – but the LORD helped me. They could sing this song of hope because they were connected to the source of hope! “The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” Other translations of the Bible say, “The LORD is my strength and my defense….” The word for “song” can be translated as “defense” so, in other words, our best defense in a hopeless situation is to sing this song of hope!

I wonder if Paul had this Psalm in mind when he and a traveling companion, Silas, found themselves in a filthy prison cell in Philippi.  You can read the story in Acts 16. 

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, ‘Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!’ The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’”  Acts 16:25-31 (NIV)

The Bible said it was about midnight, and the situation couldn’t have been more hopeless!  What began as a hope-filled missionary journey with a woman named Lydia coming to Christ and her whole household being baptized, with many other lives being changed, ended when they were arrested, beaten, and placed in a filthy prison cell. Despite how unfairly they had been treated, the Bible said they began to sing the song of hope!  In verse 25, the Bible says,

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing songs to God as the other prisoners listened.”

Imagine that for a moment.  What would you have done?  I might have been praying, “God get me out of here!” while singing the blues – “Gloom, despair, and agony on me.  If it weren’t for bad luck, I have no luck at all!”  But that wasn’t the song for these two!  Paul and Silas were connected with the source of hope, so they could sing the song of hope!  They were singing praise songs to God, the source of hope!  This is the key that will unlock the prison cell of hopelessness you’re in as well! These men weren’t being naïve and just pretending they were not in pain.  They had just been stripped and beaten. They weren’t singing songs of thanksgiving for the mistreatment they went through, but they were singing songs of praise.  There is a time for thanking God for all that He has done, but these were songs of praise for who God is!  Songs of praise strengthen our faith in remembering who God is.  He is the Creator and Sustainer of our lives.  He is all powerful, all loving, and all knowing!  He is ever present and will never leave us or forsake us.  Even in our most hopeless situations, God is our source of hope!  Like the Psalmist, Paul and Silas could sing, “I was pushed back and about to fall… but You, Oh God, are my strength and song. You are my defense!  You are my salvation.”

In Isaiah 66:1, the Bible says that heaven is God’s throne and earth is His footstool. I just imagine that when God heard these two suffering missionaries singing songs of praise in this hopeless situation, He began to tap His feet to the beat. Maybe that is what caused the “sudden” earthquake that opened all the prison doors and broke the chains that bound the prisoners!  Acts 16:26 says, “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”

The Song of Hope is contagious and powerful! The Bible says that all the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas as they sang, and when the earthquake opened the prison doors, everyone’s chains came loose!  These missionaries were overflowing with hope and it was spilling out on everyone around them. 

But that’s not all!  There’s more to this story that we will see tomorrow!  The Song of Hope would save a man from suicide!