We are exploring what the Bible has to say about the relationship between worship and music. There are so many opinions as to acceptable musical styles, and the role of music itself as it is used in worship. We have decided to lay our presuppositions aside and let the Bible speak for itself regarding the subject.
We first looked at Exodus 15. We came away with the following observations:
1) Worship (including singing, music, and dancing) is a natural response to salvation.
2) Worship is not a spectator sport.
3) Worship (and the music that accompanies it) is to be 100% God centered.
Next we went to Exodus 32 (the Golden Calf passage.) Here, we learned that musical style is not the defining element of authentic worship. The same style of music can be used in both the true, spiritual worship of God, and idolatrous abandon. It is the Object of worship and the disposition of the heart that makes God music.
The next time we find mention of singing is in Numbers 21.
“From there the Israelites traveled to Beer which is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, and I will give them water. There the Israelites sang this song:
‘Spring up, O well!
Yes, sing its praises! Sing of this well,
which princes dug,
which great leaders hollowed out
with their scepters and staffs.’”
The Israelites are still traveling through the wilderness, and God has provided water (again). Once more we find that the people, presumably all or most, sing a song of thanksgiving to God. Interestingly, we find something new in this passage- they sing of the well itself. The first song we found, the one in Exodus 15, was sung to God and about God. Here, we find that while this is obviously a song of thanksgiving to God, they sing about the object of provision. Once more we find that it seemed natural for the people of God to sing praises after God moves on their behalf. It seems that this song is also designed to bring encouragement to each other as they sing of what God has done.
While it is indeed tempting to delve into a little preaching as we consider the applications found in this passage of scripture, I suppose we should stay focused. What can we take from this “well song” that furthers our understanding of the relationship between music and worship? Well (no pun intended), I think we can make the following observations:
1) Worship (in this case signing) is a natural response to God’s provision.
2) Worship can include singing about the very thing God has provided.
3) Worship (singing) can be an encouragement to God’s people along with being a song to God himself.
To be continued…