I grew up in a teetotaling household. Neither parent ever indulged in a single sip of alcohol. Their deep Southern Baptist roots told them drinking was wrong—no ifs, ands, buts. When I discovered Dad’s family history, I found two brothers who were, in not-so-kind parlance, raging alcoholics. Dad’s aversion to alcohol had as much to do with immense family pain connected to alcohol abuse as it did with the scriptures.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (v. 18, NIV) Getting drunk has zero positive outcomes. The best outcome is a bad hangover. Other outcomes head south from there. But we can be drunk on so many things. Drunk on power, on being right, revenge, self-pity, or anger. Being drunk on anything takes us out of our right minds.
But here’s the pivot: Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (v. 19, NIV). I’ve been in the performing arts my entire life and can say without question that music also takes us out of our minds—but leads us into a “righter” place. Music can carry us straight to God’s footstool.
When I was growing up, my family visited the Glorieta conference center in New Mexico each summer for Music Week. The primary attendees were music ministers, choir directors, singers, and musicians. Imagine an auditorium seating 2,600 professionally trained musicians. Four-part harmony (or more) was beautifully offered on every song. Once, the music director instructed those seated on the main floor to stay silent: “Let’s listen to those in the balcony sing—it will be a prelude of what the angelic choirs in heaven will sound like.” Some fifty years later, that joyous sound still reverberates in my ears. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Better than being drunk.
Think about how worshiping through the gifts of music and dance and song requires our sharpest minds, whether as performer or congregation member.
God, thank you for the miracle of music. Thank you for how it speaks to my soul through a path of mystery. Amen.