Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heartLet the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.(Ephesians 5:19 & Colossians 3:16)

I think it’s safe to say that music  plays a more integral role in “churches” today than perhaps in any other time in church history. (When I use the term “music” I am referring to “singing” as well.) Everybody knows if you want to have a successful “church” you’ve got to have good music and a cool band. Right? I remember  that I was once told (when I was a “worship pastor”) , “Now, we need to play these kinds of songs if we want to reach our target audience.” The thing is, when I read the above verses, especially within the context of the epistles in which they find themselves, I can’t help but think that we’ve missed something- a big SOMETHING! So, let’s wade through these verses (It’ll probably take a few articles to do it.), and see if we can get a better handle on the subject.

The first observation I’d like to make, though brief and fairly obvious, is that the music mentioned in these verses is a function/result of  spirit-filled lives  joined and growing together in Christ. The Church is the “target audience.” This type of singing is not an attempt to attract “outsiders” and enhance attendance, but is instead a vital part of true spiritual growth. And participation in this “activity” is not confined to “worship leaders” on a platform, but inclusive of all who come together as members of the body of Christ. There are to be no mere observers. Everyone is to be a sincere participant. Each individual in whom the word of Jesus dwells is to participate in a Life-giving chorus.

If you are a lover of Jesus, a member of his body, you were created for more than simply going to a building every week, hearing some really cool music and “getting your praise on.” No! Your song is invaluable to your brothers and sisters. Be continuously filled with the Spirit and sing!

Advertisements

Lifehouse “Everything”

I remember years ago seeing this video and how it resonated within me. Jesus is EVERYTHING! I pray, as you watch this video, that Holy Spirit will encourage your heart in the Lord and remind you once more that Jesus is everything you need.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA

Moved By The Music

(We have covered a lot of ground in our discussion about God Music. It’s getting to the point where it’s kind of impractical to list all of our previous observations at the beginning of each new post, so, I invite you to go back and check out the previous articles entitled “Talk About…God Music”). We all know that music can move you. There is something within the chords and rhythms that can actually produce an affect upon people. Many within the church insist that such “musical manipulation” has no place within the worship experience as it is worldly and/or demonic. Again, as we have in our previous discussions, we want to know what the Bible says about this. I can’t think of a better place to go than II Kings 3: 14-16.

“And Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. But now bring me a musician.’ And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said…”

First, let’s provide a little context. Jehoram, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, had gone to Elisha the prophet to inquire of the Lord. They were preparing for battle and needed God’s word concerning the situation. Elisha had no use for Jehoram because of his idolatrous ways, but he had respect for Jehoshaphat, and agreed to meet with them.

We are told that Elisha asked for a musician to be brought in. It is obvious that Elisha sought to use the music as a tool through which he would more readily receive from the Lord. Elisha purposefully employed music to “manipulate” his own disposition. His apparent motive was more than a desire for an emotional release; he wanted to hear from God. (Interestingly enough, if you remember, we learned that when David instituted the Levitical ministry of music, it was looked upon as a form of prophecy.) There is so much that could be inferred from Elisha’s actions, but I want to stick with what the Bible makes plain. Elisha used music to purposefully create an environment which would assist him in receiving from the Lord.

The musician is unnamed. Obviously he was skilled and anointed of God; however, we don’t know who he is, and we never hear from him again. He apparently didn’t start a traveling “Prophecy Mantle Impartation Tour” throughout the kingdom. He was used of God, and then disappears into the pages of antiquity. One thing to note is that it was Elisha that purposefully utilized the musician and his gifts, not the other way around. So often, within our contexts, the musician is asked/required to get the people “in the mood” to encounter God. Elisha’s heart was already going after the Lord; the ministry of music only aided him in his pursuit. I think we need to really consider this point. God Music doesn’t seem to be intended to manipulate people into encountering God. It is for people who already desire Him.

Next, we find that the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha when the musician played. Elisha’s heart and the God Music were both factors in this God encounter. The Lord gave Elisha the words to speak to the kings, and His name was glorified.

In II Kings 3, the Bible gives us a wonderful example of the relationship between music and worship. Our hearts must be inclined towards the Lord with a desire to encounter the living God. Only then can God Music be a means by which His name is glorified as the hand of the Lord comes upon us.

Talk About…God Music: The Levitical Band

Recently, we have been talking about God Music. We have sought to explore the Bible and let it speak to us concerning the relationship between music/singing and worship. One of the hardest things for any of us to do is set aside our presuppositions and allow the Bible to simply speak for itself; nevertheless, we are prayerfully attempting to do exactly that as we consider God Music. We all have personal tastes, likes, and dislikes when it comes to music. Various people groups and cultures differ greatly in how they sing. Our goal is to learn what the Bible has to say about how God’s people are to employ music/singing in worship. On our way, we have observed the following:

1) Worship (including singing, music, and dancing) is a natural response to salvation.

2) Worship (signing) is a natural response to God’s provision.

3) Worship is not a spectator sport.

4) Worship (and the music that accompanies it) is to be 100% God centered.

5) 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.

6) Worship can include singing about the very thing God has provided.

7) Worship (singing) can be an encouragement to God’s people along with being a song to God himself.

8) God himself wrote a song, and commanded Israel to learn it.

10) Singing/Music, in the context of God’s people, may sometimes involve instances where some sing and others listen. (In such cases, the song is still 100% God centered.)

11) God Music can include mention of the people he uses to accomplish his mighty deeds.

12) There can be elements of rebuke in God Music.

Now we come to the period of time when King David ruled Israel, and we find him introducing music/singing as an integral, continuous aspect of worship. We have discovered that the Bible presents music as always being part of worship. However, under Moses, music was not formally set up as a regular duty of the priests. Now, under David, music/ singing became a distinct Levitical function. II Chronicles 29: 25, 26 tells us that it was the Lord himself who instructed David to make these priestly revisions. “…stationed the Levites in the temple of the Lord with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the Lord through his prophets. So the Levites stood ready with David’s instruments, and the priests with their trumpets.”

The Bible says the following:

“David… set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. (1 Chron.25:1)

“All these men were under the supervision of their father for the music of the temple of the Lord, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God.  Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord—they numbered 288.” (1 Chron. 25:6, 7)

“David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets,harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.” (2 Samuel 6:5)

“David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.” 1 Chron. 15:16)

He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.” (1 Chron. 16: 4-6)

I think it’s obvious from these verses that music/singing became an integral part of the people’s worship when David came to power. We can also observe a few things in these passages that I think are relevant for application to us today.

1) God Music is intended to glorify God. It is ministry to the Lord.

2) Music/singing was a priestly function. Under David, not only were priests responsible for sacrifice, and all the things we are familiar with that God told Moses to institute, certain ones were now set apart for musical worship before the Lord as well.

3) The music, along with the instruments used, was indigenous to the culture of the time. It appears that no instrument was “off limits.” They used what they had to worship the Lord. They wrote the songs, and they employed familiar instruments in their worship.

4) The musicians/singers were skillful. They were taught and instructed.

5) This worship was looked upon as prophesying.

6) This music was not to entertain people; it was to worship the Lord. Interestingly enough, it would appear that this music/singing was something that continuously went on before the Lord. The Levites ministered before the Lord even after the people had gone home. The music was not solely intended to enable people to “get their praise on.” The music/singing continued in the people’s absence.

It would appear that not only is God Music a natural part of our worship of God, but it is also a priestly function.  We will see, as we later move into the New Testament, that singing and making melody is to continue as an integral part of our worship experience.

To be continued…

Talk About…God Music: God Writes a Song

Our topic is music, worship, and the relationship between the two. Basically, we are going to the Bible, starting with the earliest references on the subject, then working our way forward letting the scriptures speak for themselves. I’ve tried my best to refrain from expository preaching, and simply allow the Bible to do the teaching. (On a side note, I think something we could all benefit from is letting the Word define our experience instead of our experience defining the word; however, that’s a whole other conversation.)

We’ve made some observations, so just to bring you up to speed (in case you haven’t read the other segments); we have found the following:

1) Worship (including singing, music, and dancing) is a natural response to salvation.

2) Worship (signing) is a natural response to God’s provision.

3) Worship is not a spectator sport.

4) Worship (and the music that accompanies it) is to be 100% God centered.

5) 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.

6) Worship can include singing about the very thing God has provided.

7) Worship (singing) can be an encouragement to God’s people along with being a song to God himself.

Obviously, I believe the Bible teaches us that music has been employed in worship since there have been people on the earth (probably before there were people as well); however, there are those who see no place for singing and music in a “worship setting.” Hmm, I wonder how we then deal with the fact that God himself wrote a song, dictated it to Moses, and commanded him to teach it to the people. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 31:19, “So write down the words of this song, and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them learn it, so it may serve as a witness for me against them.” Most call this song (you can read it in Deuteronomy 32) the “Song of Moses,” but I really don’t think Moses himself would take the credit for it seeing as how God dictated it to him. It is what it is, as they say, a song of which God was the lyricist, and Moses wrote it down.

Much could be expounded on as to the content of this song, but for our purposes it is enough to simply observe that at least in this one instance, God himself wrote a song, and commanded Israel to learn it. He even states the purpose of the song. He told Moses that this song would later testify on God’s behalf against a people who would betray him. God intended that this song remind the people that all the judgment they are to later experience is because they have abandoned him, and he told them they would do this beforehand. The song also gave hope in that God says he will “avenge the blood of his servants; he will take revenge against his enemies. He will repay those who hate him and cleanse the land for his people.”

As we consider Deuteronomy 31& 32, we see that God himself wrote a song which was to be used as a testimony. The song God wrote showed that he knew the future, that he had been a faithful father to his people, and because of their unfaithfulness would bring judgment. He commanded this song to be learned by the people in order that when all the things foretold in the song came to pass, they would be moved to repentance. Apparently, God can/will use songs for his purposes.

To be continued…

Talk About…God Music: The Well Song

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…

 

Talk About… God Music

There seems to be increasing controversy within the Church about music, and the role it plays in our “worship services” today. What style of music should be played? Are there any limitations as to the types of instruments that may be used? Is it to be the traditional choir & hymns scene, or should we opt for the “praise band,” and contemporary songs.? Is it okay to have music period? There is certainly a lot of talk about God music today, but what does God have to say about music? As always, we need to lay our presuppositions and our personal preferences before the Lord, and take a look into the Bible to see what it has to say (sola scriptura) about the relationship between music and worship.

The first place we encounter music & singing in the Bible is in Exodus 15. The Lord had just parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel had escaped the pursuing Egyptian army. This is how it reads,

“Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
The Lord is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
he has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea
The deep waters gushed over them;
they sank to the bottom like a stone.

“Your right hand, O Lord,
is glorious in power.
Your right hand, O Lord,
smashes the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty,
you overthrow those who rise against you.
You unleash your blazing fury;
it consumes them like straw.
At the blast of your breath,
the waters piled up!
The surging waters stood straight like a wall;
in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.

“The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them
and catch up with them.
I will plunder them
and consume them.
I will flash my sword;
my powerful hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.

11 “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord—
glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?
12 You raised your right hand,
and the earth swallowed our enemies.

13 “With your unfailing love you lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
to your sacred home.
14 The peoples hear and tremble;
anguish grips those who live in Philistia.
15 The leaders of Edom are terrified;
the nobles of Moab tremble.
All who live in Canaan melt away;
16     terror and dread fall upon them.
The power of your arm
makes them lifeless as stone
until your people pass by, O Lord,
until the people you purchased pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain—
the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling,
the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever!”

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers rushed into the sea, the Lord brought the water crashing down on them. But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground!

20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. 21 And Miriam sang this song:

“Sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.”

It would seem that singing and music were already a part of the people’s lives prior to the Exodus. We are not told how they knew to sing; we are just told that they sang. What can we learn about music and worship from this scenario that would be applicable to us today?  First, I think we should take note that the natural response to salvation is worship. The people had just experienced a mighty deliverance, and they sang in worship to God. Also, EVERYBODY joined in. It wasn’t just Moses and a select few; “the people of Israel” sang to the Lord. As far as we can tell everyone participated. It seems that no one had the “entertain me” mentality. It was truly a corporate experience.

Furthermore, we observe that this song was all about God. The lyrics exalted the Lord as the only true God, sovereign, holy, and glorious. They are singing to the Lord and about him. The song is prophetic in nature in that it foresees that God will “bring them in and plant them on your own mountain— the place, O Lord, reserved for your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.” The first song recorded in the Bible was entirely theocentric. We can also see that at the first “worship service” recorded in the Bible, instruments were used, and dancing took place.

So, although we have only begun our look into the relationship between music and worship, I think we can say the following:

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.

To be continued…