Series introduction: The title of this series comes from I Corinthians 14:15, where Paul said, ” I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” I want to help you sing hymns with understanding; that is, to understand what you are singing with your mind, so that you can rejoice in what you are singing with your spirit. If you don’t understand something mentally, you cannot sing it spiritually. Understanding is the kindling that fuels worship, and I want to help pile up kindling in your heart.
A few weeks ago, we studied the second stanza of “Come, We That Love the Lord.” When we studied the first stanza, we saw that those who love God have many joys to sing about! The second stanza, which we saw a couple of weeks ago, showed us that the practice of godliness (“religion”) increases pleasure. Here in the third stanza we have another description of God’s people, people who “love the Lord.”
Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But favorites of the heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad.
There are many people who “refuse to sing.” Why? Because they don’t know our God! They don’t know the joys of loving the Lord (first stanza)! They have no song in their hearts, put there by the saving Lord (Psalm 40:3); even in their laughter, their heart is sorrowful (Prov. 14:13). What a powerful contrast between God’s people and the lost!
In contrast, we who know the Lord ought to “speak [our] joys abroad.” We should spread the joys of being a Christian “abroad” to the world. How many more people would come to Christ if they were drawn by the contagious joy of believers, instead of chased away by our sour faces and dour demeanour! We, of all people, have a reason to sing and rejoice!
Notice the description Watts gives of Christians: “favourites of the heavenly King.” This is clearly the opposite group of those “who never knew our God.” These people do know God. Furthermore, they love Him (stanza one). We who are saved are the “favourites” of the Lord; that is, He has placed His favour on us as His elect people, chosen out of all the peoples of the earth (Eph. 1:4-6; Rev. 5:9). He pours out His blessing on us through Jesus Christ, through whom we are even now seated at the right hand of God! (Eph. 1:3; 2:6)
Here is a one-sentence summary of this stanza: Those who know God can sing with joy! So are you singing for joy right now? If not, could it be because you don’t know God? But even if you are saved and know Him (John 17:2-3), are you passionately pursuing the knowledge of Christ in His Word? (Phil. 3:7-14) The joy of Christ compared to the happiness of worldly things is like sweetest honey compared to choking ashes. Remember, as the second stanza says, “Religion never was designed / to make our pleasures less”! Won’t you taste today and see that He is good? (Psalm 34:8) You won’t regret it.