From Pastor to Pupils
Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment
So my premise is if South Africa is to experience a renewal, a revival, a renaissance, it will come when the ethics, the moral fibre, the direction of our people is aligned to the Word of God.
Roll up your sleeves and get started.
In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem of South Africa. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spotlight.
Again, this is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.
Let its horn be raised – Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo
The second line, ‘Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo’, translates to ‘Let its horn be raised’.
Yes, this line troubled me. Greatly. I had heard the translation a number of times but I had no frame of reference to wrap my mind around it. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘Mlungu’ (whitie) but I really thought this line was a little weird. It is wise to familiarise oneself with some of the basics of the national anthem before one tries to interpret the song (and by the way I couldn’t find an interpretation of the lyrics online so this may be a first). Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn. Armed with that I went to my Bible and did some searching.
Listen to this text to read in this lesson is Numbers 6:24 – 26,
1 Then Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
My horn is exalted in the Lord,
My mouth speaks boldly against my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.
2 “There is no one holy like the Lord,
Indeed, there is no one besides You,
Nor is there any rock like our God.
3 “Boast no more so very proudly,
Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth;
For the Lord is a God of knowledge,
And with Him actions are weighed.
4 “The bows of the mighty are shattered,
But the feeble gird on strength.
5 “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread,
But those who were hungry cease to hunger.
Even the barren gives birth to seven,
But she who has many children languishes.
6 “The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 “The Lord makes poor and rich;
He brings low, He also exalts.
8 “He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor;
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He set the world on them.
9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones,
But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness;
For not by might shall a man prevail.
10 “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered;
Against them He will thunder in the heavens,
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His king,
And will exalt the horn of His anointed.”
The word horn in the text above is interpreted to mean a person’s spirit or a person’s power. And that makes sense when you take into account the rest of Hanna’s Song.
The text above is unlocked by seeing how it advances our understanding of God’s sovereignty. It is God who makes men strong in battle (4), prosperous and numerous (5), has power over death (6), elevates and deprecates (7), exalts and creates (8), protects and shuns (9).
God’s people recognise God’s sovereignty in all things including their present circumstances.
The Gospel message is very appropriately expounded at this point. God is the creator of all things and as such He is sovereign over all things. Because He is sovereign He has the right to determine the order of things. Man has rebelled against God’s order, His commandments, His rule, His standard, in thought, word and deed, and even in what we’ve left undone. Because God is Holy – separate from sin – and because man is sinful – he is separated from God. In a very real way we are under His righteous wrath. Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. By believing in Him, trusting Him completely, turning from our sin and turning to Him, receiving the free gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God.