God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
This song, now celebrating its 100th year anniversary was written in 1918, by a Jewish immigrant from Russia, Irving Berlin as he served in the army during World War I. It was revived 20 years later and sung by the famous Kate Smith, on her radio show in 1938.
This “prayerful” song was sung to invoke the blessing of God on a nation that so many people loved and adored. There was a sense of national pride and maybe even a humble dependence on “America’s God” as these words melodically filled radio stations, stadiums and even churches. Now, some 100 years later this same lyric is met with controversy and division. Some even wonder if God has ever blessed America.
Depending on the listening ears and the living experience of the receiver, tells whether one believes that God could, did, should or will “Bless America”. Depending on where one stands politically, socially, experientially and even spiritually, determines how one feels about this song.
We find ourselves divided (an understatement if I’ve ever made one), so divided when it comes to national pride: Standing vs kneeling for the National Anthem, raising or dismantling confederate icons and flags, “Making America great again” or recognizing the sins of America, Republican vs Democrat, immigration crack-down and reforms vs open door policies. I could go on and on.
When I think of and pray for God’s blessing on America, my mind goes to Psalm 33. This “song” is filled with deep praise to the God of the nations…the God of history. It’s melodies ring out with the affections of praise and thanksgiving to the God of the nations, verses 1-3. It’s chorus resounds with the majestic creative power of a God who loves righteousness and justice verses 4-7; it’s musical tones of resolution, speak of His sovereign trustworthiness, verses 13-22; BUT the orchestral crescendo explodes with the exhortation to fear and worship the LORD!
Psalm 33:8–12 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
This stanza lets us in on a revealed secret and that is, if a nation wants to have the blessing of God, it must be a nation that fears Him, worships Him, treasures Him, “idolizes” Him. He must be central, predominant, primary and premier.
A nation that is blessed by God must sing His song, directed by His will and sung to His GLORY! It’s all about HIM! Every note…every melody…every phrasing and every composition must point to His depths of riches and wisdom and knowledge; point to His unsearchable judgements and inscrutable ways, for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen! Romans 11:33-36
Whichever “side of the aisle”, you find yourself political or socially; you must land on the side of God’s Glory! If ever you want to pray that God would bless America, it must be in the context of America submitting TO God.
So, in a sense, I too sing along with Irving Berlin in praying, “God bless America”…my temporary home. “May we become a nation whose God is…The LORD!” Would you sing this along with me???