Worship and Warfare: Making Grendel and the Devil Cranky…through Song

Worship is a weapon, and singing is powerful. It’s true.

Many Christians today have no idea of the power inherent in singing God’s praises and thanking Him corporately. For Old Testament Israel, God required that they feast! That is, He required that they celebrate and make merry as they wage a full-scale war on gods of this world, and that’s what happens when we sing.

In Omnibus II, we have been reading the famous epic poem Beowulf. In it, the poet describes the villain Grendel (descended from Cain) in grand style, and particularly what makes him so grumpy. His language reflects an awareness of the relationship between good and evil that escapes many of us today:

Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark,
nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed him
to hear the din of the loud banquet
every day in the hall, the harp being struck
and the clear song of a skilled poet
telling with mastery of man’s beginnings,
how the Almighty had made the earth
a gleaming plain girdled with waters;
in His splendor He set the sun and the moon
to be earth’s lamplight, lanterns for men,
and filled the broad lap of the world
with branches and leaves; and quickened life
in every other thing that moved.

You read that right: What maddens Grendel above all else is the merriment coming from the mead-hall and the singing! And more specifically, he hates the singing about God and His creative work.

And though Grendel is a fictitious monster, he represents devilish creatures everywhere, including the prince of darkness himself. Our enemy hates the God of Heaven, and hates all those who are made in His image. He hates it when we are happy and he hates it when we declare to the world His goodness. He hates it when we celebrate His works and he hates it when we proclaim His word.

And we can do all of this in our singing. We sing words like these:

The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell Him.

(A Mighty Fortress is Our God, verse 3)

And when we do sing like this, we can be sure that the enemy is “nursing a hard grievance.” May we bear in mind that our worship is warfare.