War Songs of the King of Kings

Scott Aniol


Christians ought to sing all the psalms—including the imprecatory psalms—because the psalms are deeply rooted in confidence that God is the Sovereign King of Kings, and therefore to sing them helps form within us a hope-filled longing for the Return of the King.

We who have already submitted to the sovereign King of Kings are in a unique position. Like Israel in exile, we are citizens of God’s kingdom, but we are currently living in the midst of earthly kingdoms filled with wicked people.

So what are we supposed to do while we wait for the return of the king? Well there are several things Scripture commands us to do. We are to faithfully preach the good news of Jesus Christ, calling sinners to kiss the Son in repentant faith. We are to let our light shine before men so they will see our good works and glorify God on the day when he visits them with judgment. We are to stand firm under persecution, do good until all men, and pray for the salvation of souls.

But God also commands us to faithfully meet together, encouraging one another, and all the more as we see the Day of Judgment drawing near. And when we gather, we worship our King. And what should we sing as we worship our King? We should sing his inspired war songs. The Psalms are the spiritual battle cry of all who currently serve the King of Kings.

These songs express our humble submission to the sovereign King. These songs give us language to praise and thank our King. And these songs are expressions of trust in our Warrior King who will come and defeat all his enemies.

These songs help us to cry out to the only source of help and deliverance we can depend on: the one who is both Yahweh and Man: God’s Anointed, Jesus Christ. When we cry out with the psalms for Yahweh to save us, to deliver us, rescue us, guard us, redeem us, give us victory, and vindicate us, this is war language.

And these songs don’t just give us language to express these sentiments, God’s inspired songs form us to live in this present evil age with courage and hope and confidence that the King will come again and conquer all his enemies. They form us to live like kingdom citizens; the psalms are, as James Mayes so helpfully describes them, the liturgy of the kingdom of God.

These are the songs we sing as we march around the walls of Jericho, not because we are going to take up arms and break through the walls ourselves, but because God himself will conquer the city.

You see, when we see sin and wickedness around us, when we see the nations rage and the peoples meditating on a vain thing, when we see the kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed, what can we do? What we don’t do is take up arms. We are in a war, make no mistake, but Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10 that we are not waging war according to the flesh. The weapons of our warfare, Paul insists, are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds, to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.

What are those divine spiritual weapons? The weapons of our warfare are what we sometimes call the ordinary means of grace. If you’re concerned by the way godless ideologies are plaguing our society, then gather with the church—that is where the weapons are. Our primary battlefield is not in the political sphere or among the elite culture-makers, our primary battlefield is what we do when we gather as the church—the ordinary means of grace. Preaching, prayer, singing, Scripture reading, baptism, the Lord’s Table—these are the weapons of our warfare. This is our battlefield. Worship is warfare.

And the Psalms are spiritual divine weapons God has given us. When the culture around us raises up arguments and lofty opinions against the knowledge of God, when the fool says in his heart, “There is no God,” we take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and we boldly sing, “The Lord reigns! The gods of the people are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”

When churches do not sing these war songs, their worship music inevitably devolves into happy-clappy escapist, feel-good ditties that form snowflakes rather than warriors.

We need the psalms, which is why we published Psalms and Hymns to the Living God, which contains settings of all 150 psalms plus hymns that match the character and quality of the God-inspired songs. These are the weapons of our warfare. These are how we battle against arguments and lofty opinions against the knowledge of God.

Without the psalms—the entirety of the psalms, churches are forming men without chests, brains filled with knowledge, but unable to navigate the realities of life in a sin-cursed world; unable to resist the fiery darts of the devil; unable to stand against the onslaught of growing persecution; unable to fight the spiritual battles God has called us to; unable to see with eyes of faith the conquering King of Kings who has promised to return and defeat all his enemies.

But by singing the Psalms—the war songs of the King of Kings, we are arming ourselves with exactly the spiritual divine weapons God has given us in this present evil age as we look for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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Scott Aniol

Executive Vice President and Editor-in-Chief G3 Ministries

Scott Aniol, PhD, is Executive Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of G3 Ministries. In addition to his role with G3, Scott is Professor of Pastoral Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary in Conway, Arkansas. He lectures around the world in churches, conferences, colleges, and seminaries, and he has authored several books and dozens of articles. You can find more, including publications and speaking itinerary, at www.scottaniol.com. Scott and his wife, Becky, have four children: Caleb, Kate, Christopher, and Caroline. You can listen to his podcast here.