Problematic Christian Music

April 21, 2011

Scripture teaches that music plays an essential role in Christian worship (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). God demands that we worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24; cf. Phil. 4:8). The words in some Christian songs are problematic because they do not handle the Scripture accurately.

Two such songs are Jesus, Rose of Sharon, and The Lily of the Valley. These songs are based on the same Scripture passage: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters” (Song 2:1-2). Both songs are problematic because the expressions the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of Valley both refer to a girl:

Here the beloved spoke of herself as a rose of Sharon . . . The Hebrew word for rose is [habasselet]. In Isaiah 35:1, its only other occurrence in the Old Testament, it is translated “crocus,” which may be the meaning here. It was a common meadow flower. The lily too was a common flower mentioned often in the Song of Songs (2:1-2, 16; 4:5; 5:13; 6:2-3; 7:2). Though in her humility she likened herself to common flowers of the field, her statement (2:1) reflects a significant contrast with her earlier self-consciousness (1:5-6). Her improvement probably was because of her lover’s praising her (1:9-10, 15). (BKC: OT, 1014; bold in original)

I am the rose of Sharon. The bride is still speaking. It is difficult to determine which flower the bride refers to. . . . Crocus appears to be the best translation. . . . As the lily among thistles. The bridegroom speaks. In her humility the bride may think of herself only as a beautiful but humble crocus; he regards her as a lily among thistles. So far as lilies surpass thistles, so far does she surpass other maidens. (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, 598; bold in original)

Should we, therefore, continue to sing these songs that express beautiful sentiments about Jesus but do so with plainly problematic use of Bible wording?

Rajesh

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