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…