Do you have a song? Is there a song out there that’s just yours? It’s maybe your go-to song in the car, or maybe it’s that song that you and your spouse danced to at your wedding. Maybe it’s a song that just takes you back, right? So, what’s your song. If you had to pick a song that would be like your entrance song – every time you stepped into a new room this song would start playing – what would that song be? I think this would be a fun thing to explore with you, because I bet a lot of you, the song that you would pick, would make sense. Like, of course, you’d pick that song. That song fits you perfectly. Then again, maybe some of you would surprise me and just pick a song that (mind-blown) I did not expect. Like really, Backstreet Boys? As Long as You Love Me? That’s your song? Today, though, God’s prophet, Isaiah, sings you a song, and he wants it to be your song – our song!
Now, here is the thing about music, about songs. Songs will often tell a story, and that is true of this song from Isaiah; it tells a story, and here is how it starts, verse 1: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away…” Ooh, this is one of those angry heavy metal songs, huh? Well, not quite, but there is some anger here that needs to be figured out, and you’ll notice whom that anger is directed at. That anger comes from God and it hits me. And, I’d just like us to think about that for a moment. Does God have a right to be angry with me, with you, with anyone?
Go back to our gospel lesson for today. It’s that familiar story of the prodigal son. Right, that son, asked for his inheritance early. Then he went and squandered it – lived a wild life! – and wasted what his father gave him. But then that money dried up, and it got to a point that the son was in such dire need that he got a job feeding pigs and wished that he could fill his belly with their food. Finally, it dawns on this kid, I should go home, and even if dad treats me like one of his servants, it’s better than this.
Here is my question in this story: why would that prodigal son think that his father would treat him like one of the hired servants? Why did this kid say that he was no longer worthy of being called the son of his father? I mean why didn’t he blame his father? Didn’t his dad allow him to take his inheritance early? Didn’t his dad allow him to walk off and go live the good life? Now, I think you would agree with me that it’s ludicrous to blame the prodigal son’s father for the behavior of the prodigal son. Which is why we find the prodigal son speaking these words – a speech he probably rehearsed on that long walk back home – “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” He didn’t blame dad, and he knew he deserved any anger that his father might show him.
So, go back to my question, “Does God have a right to be angry with me and you?” You know a lot of people struggle with that. Um, they don’t think God’s anger is justified or they prefer a God that can’t be angry and don’t like this idea of a hell, of punishment. But, in reality, are there things that you have said and done that your Father in heaven would be ashamed of, or to say it stronger, are there things you’ve done that would make him angry with you? I think you know the answer. Yes. So, here’s the real issue, I can understand if you don’t like an angry God. I get that the idea of God allowing people to suffer in hell doesn’t seem right and often fair. But, if I may be so bold, the issue isn’t God’s anger, it’s us misunderstanding that anger. Look at how Isaiah speaks about God’s anger in verse 1? Let me read it again: “I will praise you, Lord…Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.”
In other words, God gets angry about our sin – he does! – but then he does something interesting. Rather than direct that anger at me, he turns it and directs it somewhere else, and you know where. God’s anger, his wrath, fell on his own Son, on Jesus. Right here on a cross God’s anger was unleashed and look what’s left for you, not anger, comfort. “…your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.”
In that story of the prodigal son, the father didn’t send his son off to work with the servants. No, he welcomed him home with open arms! Oh, and that teed off the son’s older brother. He didn’t think this was fair. He thought his brother should be punished. But, don’t you see? That’s what that story and this song teach us about God. His love is undeserved. God’s love for you, and his desire to have you and hold you, well, he was willing to get angry at his own Son to make that happen. He was willing to let Jesus die and suffer and hell so that in your own condemnation, he could come and comfort you. He could forgive you.
And, in a selfish way, that’s what I love about this song, and I hope you learn to love it – this song – too, because this song it is about me, and it is about you. Look at the next verse, verse 2: “The Lord himself is my salvation…my strength…my defense…” In other words, everything that God is, which is everything I do not deserve, all of that he has given to me and to you personally.
So, maybe one way to look at chapter 12 – and I heard another preacher describe it this way – is to break out Isaiah’s words into the four voice types, bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. And what we just went through in verses one and two, that’s the deep bassline. God’s anger at my sin and his undeserved love for me in Christ my Savior, that’s deeply personal. In the background of your life there will forever be that personal struggle with sin and guilt, but then also that very real joy of confession, undeserved love, and forgiveness. And, while that bass note is the beat of your daily life, of your song, Isaiah brings another voice in to really carry the tune, to hold and sustain you; it’s the tenor line.
Verse three is that tenor line of your song, Isaiah writes, “With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Do you know how much of the human body consists of water? It’s something like 55-60% of your body is water. Do you know what happens when your body dips below that threshold of water? We call that dehydration, and even if it’s a very minimal drop below that, or close to that, threshold, a person will begin to get dizzy, have fatigue, and suffer from headaches. If you go a point or two below that threshold, you get nauseous, you lose energy, fever and seizures are possible…and if you really are dehydrated it’s agonizing, and that lack of water will kill you if not addressed.
Now apply that in a real way to your own life. There are a lot of things out there that we think will satisfy our thirst in this life. You go back to that prodigal son, he thought being out on his own, doing his own thing, that was it – that’s the life. Then hardship hit, and he realized he was dehydrated and need to drink from a different well. Maybe that’s happened to you. You’ve drank from the wells of health or wealth, you’ve sipped on pleasure or pride, but it hasn’t satisfied. You need a different drink, different water; you need Jesus that living water.
And, I love this, once you realize this is the water you need, once you taste it, once you are connected with God’s Word and the Spirit brings you face to face with your Savior, you begin going back to that well again and again and you draw from it…how? With joy. This water it tastes so good. It clears the head and allows you to see how God himself is at work in your life, and that his ultimate plan is to welcome you home. Stay thirsty for that living water my friends, and if you haven’t drunk from it for some time, today is a new day. Start having those family devotions. Start reading that Bible. Plan to be here each week to joyfully draw from the well of salvation.
That’s the tenor line of this song. This is what holds you and sustains you in this life. Now, there are two other voices yet in this song, alto, and soprano. Let’s look at the alto line – that word alto means to lift up or make high. That alto line is in verses 4-6 and here is just a sampling, Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name, make known among the nations what he has done…sing to the Lord…”
Look, if God has brought comfort, forgiveness, and Christ to you in your moments of doubt and sin, what if you can bring that same comfort to someone else? And, if God has quenched your thirst in this life so that you are able to close your eyes each night in peace knowing heaven is your home, what if you can help lift someone else’s eyes to see that same heavenly glory? That’s the alto line of your song: it’s you. It’s you sharing. It’s you caring. It’s you proclaiming, raising high the name of Jesus in this world.
That leaves us then with the soprano line. Soprano means what is above, it is the highest note of the song. So, what’s the highest note of your song in these verses? You maybe missed it as I did at first, but it’s there at the beginning of verses 1 and 4: “In that day you will say.” What’s that day? It’s the day when your song is sung in perfect harmony. It’s the culmination of God’s redemptive plan for you. He’s comforted me with his forgiveness, he has quenched my every thirst and now I am with him, and I will praise him. Isn’t that the highest note? It’s that day in glory that impacts your day today because this is your song. Trusting in Jesus, you know heaven is open to you, you know the joy that awaits you, so that wherever you go, whatever you’re going through, you can “sing to the Lord for he has done glorious things, he is your strength and your defense, and he has become your salvation.” That’s your song. Sing it loud. Amen.