By Jim Jester
April 29, 2018
Scripture Reading: II Chronicles 7:4-6
“Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endures for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.”
What about music in the Bible – is there a doctrine on music?
Music plays a major role in most people’s lives – as much as what we eat, wear, or in our personal relationships. As seen in this passage, it certainly played a major role in Israel; and, it still does.
Music should be addressed from a biblical perspective as well as any other doctrine of the church: the Godhead, the covenant, the church, redemption, sanctification, etc. Did you know there are about 600 references to music in the Bible? That is more references than many of the other doctrines that we teach on a regular basis.
Some build their doctrine on music from the New Testament only. However, they are missing the point that the Bible is one whole revelation to man.
The word “muse” (from which we get “music”) means, “to think” (or meditate). Conversely, amuse means “not to think.” Is not this exactly what the world’s music does? It amuses and does not cause anyone to think or meditate. It actually has the opposite effect – it usually makes people act wild.
“Give me the making of the nation’s ballads,” said Lord Chatham, “and I care not who makes the laws.”
The ancient Greek philosophers believed that good music made a person good and that bad music made a person bad. Plato thought that using music to amuse by arousing the emotions was as bad as taking stimulants to offset boredom; a man could become addicted to both.
Let us take a look at music in the Bible. In the books of Chronicles, we have the most extensive account of music given in God’s Word. We see the administration, organization, and the excellence of music.
I. The Administration of Music (I Chronicles 23)
So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand. Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the Lord; and six thousand were officers and judges: Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments “which I made,” said David, “to praise therewith” (I Chr. 23:1-5, KJV).
King David appointed 4,000 musicians for the temple worship. These were divided, like the priests and Levites, into 24 groups; and each served 15 days a year in the temple.
In our opening text (II Chr. 7:4-6), we see that “the priests waited on their offices,” but not only that, “the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord,” on the occasion of the dedication of the house of God. This account is also seen in I Chronicles chapter 16 where these are referred to as “musical instruments of God” in verse 42. It says in our text, “David praised by their ministry.” Who’s ministry? The ministry of the instruments that David had made to praise the Lord. This puts music at quite a high level of importance.
The church, especially the Puritans, did not always appreciate instruments of music in their worship. They stressed the voice, or “a cappella” singing. The term “a cappella” means without instruments today, although it originally meant “as in church.” Church history provides much evidence supporting singing without instruments; it was the common practice.
Some have said that the use of the organ in church caused such controversy in 1054 A.D. that it led to a split between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Orthodox Churches, with few exceptions, continue to use vocal music only to this day.
John Calvin wrote, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law.” John Wesley said: “I have no objection to instruments of music, in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen.” The greatest Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, never allowed instruments in his ten-thousand-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
At one point in history, an organ was delivered to a church in Boston, and since the people were against instruments in church, it was left on the steps of the church until the weather damaged it. But, the main reason many of the reformers tended away from instruments, was their association with pagan practices. In pagan worship, instrumental music and debauchery were often linked, as this fourth-century manuscript suggests:
“In blowing on the tibia [pipes] they puff out their cheeks… they lead obscene songs… they raise a great din with the clapping of scabella [a type of foot percussion]; under the influence of which a multitude of other lascivious souls abandon themselves to bizarre movements of the body” (The Story of Christian Music, p. 28).
This sounds much like what happened at Woodstock, on the dance floor, in tent “revivals” or even in some “churches” today.
The Church of Christ is one denomination that forbids instruments, but many of them have split over the issue as well. There is a “church” in Dayton, Ohio called “The First Heavy Metal Church of Christ” that uses hard rock music.
Today, anything goes when it comes to music. This trend could make a person want to go back to forbidding instruments in the church! However, I feel our past church fathers over-stressed the New Testament and have neglected the truths found in the Old Testament on music. Likewise, many have overly stressed the N. T. so much that they have forgotten other doctrines as well, such as God’s sovereignty, the identity of the Israel people, and the continued validity of God’s Law. We need the whole Bible, do we not?
Former church leaders have stressed New Testament references to singing, and have assumed that the voice only was to be used. But, there is no N. T. scripture that forbids the use of instruments; neither is there any reference in the Bible that says we must use them (although some come close). If you search in a Bible program “Sing psalms,” you will come up with:
1Chronicles 16:9, “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.”
Psalm 105:2, “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.” [These two, the same]
James 5:13, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.”
I thought it very interesting that both the O.T. and the N.T. is represented here. Are not these very close to giving a command? Yes they are! This same command is given in both the Old and the New Testaments, “sing psalms.”
And, what is the meaning of the word “psalm”?
H2167 zamar – “to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, that is, play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music.”
G5567 psallo – “to rub or touch the surface; to play on a stringed instrument.”
In verses like these, there is no distinguishing between singing and playing – they are both seen together and inseparable. Additionally, throughout the book of Psalms, the word “Selah” occurs 71 times. It means a “suspension” of music or pause (or a variation of it, such as a change in key). Well, I suppose some anti-instrument people would find that word offensive and have to remove it from the Bible; or just remove the whole book of Psalms.
As an example, suppose you had a daughter who comes with a guitar and says, “Let me sing you a song, Daddy,” and she proceeds to sing. Would you condemn her for the use of an instrument? No. Singing and playing go together.
What is the Book of Psalms?
The book of Psalms is different from all the other books of the Bible. How? It has no “Chapters.”
It is actually a compilation of about one hundred and fifty individual manuscripts, apparently written by various composers/authors over a period of at least five hundred years. At some juncture, this collection was assembled and became known as “The Psalms.”
The Psalms is very similar to the modern hymnal we use today – a collection of independent compositions written by different individuals over a long span of time.
It is actually five books:
Book I: Psalms 1-41
Book II: Psalms 42-72
Book III: Psalms 73-89
Book IV: Psalms 90-106
Book V: Psalms 107-150
There is no particular author and date for this book for there are many composers/authors: David, Asaph, sons of Korah, and Psalm 90 is attributed to Moses.
Therefore, the book of Psalms is actually the hymnbook of the Bible.
Knowing this, do you see how inaccurate it is to refer to a Psalm (or Song) in the plural? For example, we do not say, “Turn with me to hymns number… (such and so).” We say, “Turn to hymn number….” I know, the computer programs show this; but take my word for it, the Bible programs are wrong. It is a formatting issue – computers only see books. They do not see the exception to the rule. Computers have pushed many of us into bad habits. Remember, there are no chapters in the book of Psalms, only Psalms (and each one stands independently). It is a hymnbook.
Since the book of Psalms is the hymnbook of the Bible, like the hymnal, it originally was meant to be sung. We do not see the music today, just the text, so we cannot readily sing the psalms. But those who wrote the psalms certainly knew how to sing them. Later, during the Reformation, the Psalms were set to music (An example: The Genevan Psalter).
As we saw previously, the word psalm means, “to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, that is, play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music.” Therefore, whenever you see the word psalm, you are looking at singing with musical accompaniment (instruments).
Songs and Singers, Music and Musicians
Christian musician, Dennis McCorkle, reveals a common error in translation regarding singing and music in the Bible. He says, “Unlike English, the Hebrew language of the Bible makes a much more defined distinction between things relating to the vocal aspects of music and things relating to the instrumental aspects of music.”
In Hebrew, words relating to the vocal aspects of music are derived from the common root sher (meaning song) and are handled very much in the same manner as in English.
SONG - the combination of words and melody
to SING - the physical act of vocalizing a song
SINGERS - individuals who sing a song
On the other side of the coin, words relating to the instrumental aspects of music are derived from the two Hebrew roots zmr and ngn. In Hebrew, the words used to define the physical act of playing an instrument are further broken down into: the act of playing a specific melodic line (like a solo or lead guitarist), and the more generic function of playing in general. In English, we do not generally use terms derived from melody as verbs, as in the phrase to melody. However, in the Hebrew, the thought of to melody (in relation to a musician) is comparable to the phrase to sing (in relation to a singer) and is handled by words derived from the Hebrew root zmr. The phrase to play is a more generalized thought and is handled by words derived from the Hebrew root ngn.
The phrase to melody (in relation to a musician) is comparable to the phrase to sing in relation to a singer.
MELODY - a defined or improvised sequence of tones (from zmr)
to MELODY - the physical act of specifically playing a melodic line (from zmr)
to PLAY - the general act of playing an instrument (from ngn)
MUSIC – (from ngn)
MUSICIAN – (from ngn)
Focusing primarily on the etymology of the Hebrew root zmr, we find the word was apparently derived from the physical act of removing a clump of grapes from the vine (i.e., to prune) with an implement referred to in the Scriptures as a pruning hook (Lev. 25:3-4, Isa. 5:6). In a musical sense, this can be directly related to the technique used to pluck a string on instruments like the harp or lyre. From this basic idea of plucking a string, the application of the root zmr is expanded into the various aspects of melody and to melody. Even though the phrase to melody is the most appropriate translation for verbs derived from zmr, the phrase to play is an acceptable, although a bit generalized, translation into the English language.
Applying the corrected translation to the various texts in which words derived from the Hebrew root zmr are found, we can see more clearly the understanding that was apparently intended for the reader by the original writers. The following (shown with comparative parallel versions) are but a few of many examples:
1 Chronicles 16:9 (see also parallel text Psalm 105:2)
Sing to Him, play to Him (alt. melody to Him), meditate on all His wondrous works. [Sing is sher, and play is ngn]
Jewish Publication Society,
Sing unto Him, sing praises unto Him; speak ye of all His marvelous works.
King James Version,
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. [Same]
God, a new song I will sing to You. With a harp of ten, I will play (alt. I will melody) to You. [Sing is sher, and play is zmr]
Jewish Publication Society,
O God, I will sing a new song unto Thee, upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto Thee.
King James Version,
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. [Same]
In the corrected examples, the English translation is very straightforward and makes total sense in relation to the context of the verbiage found within these verses.” –McCorkle
This is further proof that the Psalms are meant to be sung with musical accompaniment; and, that it is perfectly normal to sing with instruments today.
Many anti-instrument proponents have quoted Ephesians 5:19 interpreting the “in your heart” phrase to mean “in your heart only.”
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
But can it not be said, that whatever type of song is sung to God, it should, and ought, to be done with the cooperation of the whole heart? Certainly! With instruments or without instruments is not the point. The point is the intent of the heart. Did not Jesus say of certain people, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6).
Trench comments on this verse,
“The psalm is properly a song with accompaniment of a stringed instrument; a hymn must always be more or less of a Magnificat, a direct address of praise and glory to God. Spiritual songs were such as were composed by spiritual men and moved in the sphere of spiritual things” (Trench, Preacher’s Homiletical).
Remember, that the word “psalm” means to touch or pluck the instrument. It is possible to “make melody” in your heart while singing and/or playing an instrument. The verse is not trying to forbid musical instruments.
The Judeans, Greeks, Romans, and others, all had their musical traditions; and Christian converts had to decide what was appropriate for Christian worship.
The main thing the Bible reveals is that the music of the temple was different from the music of the culture, in general. The Bible mentions music at celebrations, such as weddings and other events. But temple music had a different purpose, and therefore, the music consisted of an appropriate genre – that which allowed the text to be heard and understood within its spirit.
We know Israel used trumpets or a ram’s horn. But why did David make instruments of strings? Why does the word psalm mean “to touch, rub or pluck?” Because stringed instruments are soft in their sound, which allows the voices to be heard. Thus, the Word of God is taught. Words are not to be obliterated by a brassy sound. Certainly, it would be difficult to hear anything in the context of Heavy Metal music.
The point in this passage (the opening text, 2 Chr. 7) is that king David made instruments with which to praise God. God did not reprimand David for making instruments of music; but rather blessed the dedication of the temple (I suppose some would say God just overlooked the music). God shows His approval both before and after the music.
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever (2 Chr. 7:1-3).
And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually (2 Chr. 7:12 & 16).
Of interesting side note, this chapter contains the well-known verse,
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14).
Not many Christians know that this promise of God is within the context of the temple celebration and that God is noting that we have a responsibility to Him. It is a conditional promise, and God is faithful to restore our nation if we would only obey. What a wonderful promise from our God!
So God gave His stamp of approval on David’s instruments of music: He consumed the sacrifices; His glory filled the house; He appeared to Solomon and told him that He had chosen the house; and, that He would establish his throne, just as He promised to do for David, his father (v. 18).
Music is the handmaiden of God’s word. It is a subservient partner or element of delivery, just as shipping is the handmaiden of world trade. Music aids in memory of Scripture and sound doctrine. Proper music is the truck on which the Word of God rides. It is the locomotive of delivery.
The anointed prophets, apostles, and pastors are men of God who proclaim the Word of God. The feminine version of teaching the Word of God is found in the anointed handmaiden of music.
II. The Organization of Music (I Chr. 25)
All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight (I Chr. 25:6-7).
This is King David’s organization of the singers for the temple. These 288 singers were instructed in the “songs of the Lord” by their teacher (vs. 8). Notice that they were “cunning” or skillful in their singing. If they were cunning, it stands to reason they had some extensive training in the art of music.
II Chronicles 23:13, speaks of voice teachers: “…and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise.”
What an impressive choir – an organization of 288 singers! The well-known composer and church musician, Johann Sebastian Bach, said of this Scripture, “This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing music.” Bach marked this in his Luther translation of the German Bible.
III. The Excellence of Music (I Chr. 15)
And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skillful (I Chr. 15:22).
We see here that Chenaniah, the leader of the Levites, was in charge of the music because he was “skillful.” Verse 27 of this chapter refers to Chenaniah as “the master of the song.” If, as these previous passages indicate, the musicians and singers were skillful, it stands to reason that the music must have been complex enough as to require a sufficient amount of skill in performing it. This aspect is seen wherever we find temple worship in the Bible.
In I Samuel 16:16, the advisors (“servants” KJV) of King Saul wanted to seek out a man who was a cunning player on the harp, because the king was troubled by an “evil spirit.”
About this verse, Krummacher says:
“The servants knew well the power of music to produce, according to its kind and quality, not less the most depraved than the holiest impressions. Music can unfetter the most destructive passions; but it can also, at least for a time, tame and mitigate the wildest storms of the human heart.… The music which the servants of the king thought of was not that which pleases the world, and which only opens the door to unclean spirits, but such as, animated by a nobler inspiration, might insensibly elevate the soul by its harmonious melody, as on angel’s wings, towards heaven. They thought of the harp, then the most solemn instrument of music, and on the melodies which were wont to sound forth in the sanctuary at the time of the sacred festivals of Israel.”—Krummacher.
Christian musician, Lenny Seidel, lists the qualities of good music. He asks,
1. Is it well written?
Beautiful melody – interval, up and down.
Rich harmony – joining of many chords.
Subtle rhythm – flow.
Distinct resolution – conclusion.
Colorful interpretation – start, stop, loud, soft.
2. Does the music match the words?
3. Is the text theologically correct?
Robert Shaw, minister of music and retired music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, often spoke of the importance of the arts in the church and gave four elements that are a part of worshipful music. He said concerning music that nothing but the best is good enough (both our performing it and the music itself). Otherwise, “God is only mocked, not worshiped.”
Shaw offered four criteria in defining the word best:
Motivation – or “purity of purpose” of the participants.
Craftsmanship – music for worship must be decently and honestly constructed. It need not be a masterpiece, but must have “at least the mortar, brick and foundation specified in the contract.”
Historical perspective – “music worthy of use in worship will have a heritage” and will endure from generation to generation.
Revelation – what is the artist trying to reveal? Music for worship should have the possibility of being the “creative miracle of revelation. Art exists to convey that which cannot be otherwise conveyed.”
Shaw made this point,
Jesus was asked, which of the commandments is first of all? And He answered, The Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. He did not say with all your heart, most of your soul, and let’s see, about half of your mind. The truth is that worship should be a heart-wrenching, soul-searing, mind-stretching, and generally exhausting experience. One should not be asked to check his mind at the door should someone get him to the church in time.
He felt that the church, if it wants to keep in touch with a Creator, must provide a home for the arts lest it “wither and drift into irrelevance.”
In I Chronicles 25:3, we find three purposes for music, “…Under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the Lord.” Have you ever heard someone “preach” with a harp? The word prophecy does not always mean foretelling the future; it usually means forth-telling the Scripture. This puts music on an equal basis with preaching! That is a solemn and important responsibility.
Music is the handmaiden of God’s Word. That is, the Bible places the woman on equal ground (yet subservient), to assist her husband. Just as a woman’s role is subservient to the man’s role, so music is the handmaiden to preaching. It is not inferior or something to be used to fill “dead space.” That may be fine for a shopping mall, but not for a church.
As an example, when Robert Shaw took the responsibility of minister of music, he told the congregation that there would be no prelude, offertory or postlude in the church’s new order of worship. To Shaw, music selected for worship was far too important to be used merely to cover up a congregation’s entering and leaving. He wanted to create each Sunday morning, he said, “Out of worthy things, a wholeness of beauty and truth, an integrity of sound and sight and reason, which shall be its own reason for being here.”
Is it not interesting that Jeduthun prophesied with a harp; and that the Bible points out three purposes for music: prophesy, thanks, and praise.
God is worthy of our very best in worship. The best in music is music with a beautiful melody, rich harmony, and flowing rhythm. This is just the opposite of popular music, which has a vague melody, little harmony, and a dominant, driving beat. Robert Shaw believed the arts help us express and communicate ideas in a way not possible through words alone. The feeling and intensity expressed in a piece of music may be remembered long after the sermon is forgotten. He said,
If any one man understood “Lord our God have mercy,” Bach did; or “I believe in one baptism,” Bach did; or “grant us peace,” Bach did. Believe me, I have forgotten many sermons, but I will never forget the times I heard great pieces of sacred music.
On the occasion of the Ark being brought to the temple, II Chronicles 5:13-14 says,
It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
J. S. Bach also marked this verse in his Bible with the words, “At a reverent performance of music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence.” Music is the handmaiden of the kingdom of God.
The Bible tells us to “Love Not the World” (I John 2:15), or, the world’s system.
The way I see it – music of the jazz/rock genres is incompatible with Christian ethics. Christians should be careful how far they go with the music of the world, especially as it relates to the church. Some styles are just not appropriate for the public worship of God. Contemporary Christian music sounds more like Hollywood than it does Heaven. Why should Christians, in the name of pluralism and inclusiveness, use pagan music? The pagans do not use our music; and neither should we use theirs.
Many Christian rockers point to scriptures referring to making a “joyful noise,” or singing a “new song,” or the use of “cymbals.” However, when these terms are examined we find that they do not imply using the world’s system of music.
The word “noise” is not a justification for the loud amplification of rock, jazz, country or gospel music! A careful look at the Hebrew text of Psalms 66:1, 81:1, 95:1-2, 98:4 & 6, and 100:1 reveals that the original word for noise does not appear, only a word meaning “joyfulness” or, “to shout for joy” or, “sound an alarm or triumph.” This same word rua, H7321 (used 45 times), was translated “joy” in Psalm 65:13 and Job 38:7. In other places, the word ranan, H7442 (used 54 times), which means practically the same thing – “shout for joy”. There are a few other Hebrew words with slight variations of meaning, but these two are the most used in Scripture. Point is we should make joy (or be joyful) unto God, not just noise. In contrast, notice Amos 5:23, “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs.” In this verse, “noise” is a different word (hamon H1995, from the root, hamah H1993, meaning: clamor, tumult – a disharmonious sound), which is accurately translated.
What is a new song according to Scripture? “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Ps. 40:2-3).
The “new song” is praise to God. The concept of New Song must necessarily include a turning away from the old song. Christians have left the old life behind. Furthermore, the Hebrew word for “new” is chadash, which means, “to rebuild, renew, or repair.” In the New Testament, the Greek word referencing New Song is kainos, which means “new or differing in character,” which should not be confused with neos, which signifies “new in respect to time – that which is recent” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary, p. 109). The “New Song” in the Bible is not a call for an up-to-date hit in respect to time (neos), but it is a call to a new character (kainos).
From the study of these words, and how the Bible uses them, we can draw a few conclusions.
1) The New Song should always give praise to God.
2) The New Song should be different in character from the music of the “world” or the person’s old song of the former sinful life.
3) The New Song should be of a more excellent quality than popular music. God deserves the highest level within our capability.
Biblically, we find that music was not based upon rhythm, which is what drums and cymbals are used for today. Drums were not found in the temple worship and the cymbals mentioned were never used as continuous rhythmic accompaniment; rather, they were used much as a conductor uses the baton, as a starting or stopping device. Drums and tambourines were used for secular purposes, such as celebrations, but not in the temple.
Dr. Richard Taylor in his book, Return to Christian Culture, said, “If we don’t want the fruit, don’t feed the root.” This is nearly all that most popular music does – it feeds the evil root of the world system. Classical music adheres to Classicism, which generally pertains to the highest order of excellence in literature and art; and specifically pertains to the culture of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Philosophers and Theologians
The popular music of our age has no direct link with the European Classical tradition.
Aristotle said, “Music directly represent the passions or states of the soul.”
Melanchthon, “When church music ceases to sound, doctrine will disintegrate. Religious music applied to life is a sanctification of life.”
Martin Luther, “The devil takes flight at the sound of music, just as he does at the words of theology and for this reason the prophets always combined theology and music, the teaching of truth and the chanting of psalms and hymns.”
Chrysostom warned Christians against the influence of secular music. He regarded the music of his day as symbolic of everything lewd and degrading. He was writing towards the end of the fourth century when the Roman Empire was within a decade or two of its final dissolution. He saw the focus of all the degeneracy in music – a monstrous power both of reflecting and of acting upon a whole civilization. He said, “It is at the root of acts of violence and dishonor, wars and daily death. Life for those addicted to these things is dishonorable, amusements become less and less desirable, and everything at home is turned upside down.”
Most of the ancient philosophers and Christian theologians believed that different kinds of music produced different effects upon people.
Music is God-owned
If music comes from God then it stands to reason that it is of a spiritual nature. We are spiritual and emotional beings before we develop into intellectual beings. Music will affect us physically/emotionally, spiritually, and should cause us to think. If it does not cause us to exercise our intellect, then perhaps something is wrong with that music.
Music is Pre-existing
Job (38:7) states that “the morning stars sang together” when God laid the cornerstone of the earth. I wonder if they sang “Hallelujah” when God spoke the foundation into existence. Isaiah (44:23) commands the heavens, the lower parts of the earth, the mountains, the forest, and every tree to break forth into singing unto the Lord. Isaiah (42:11) commands the wilderness, the cities, and the inhabitants of the rock to sing and give glory to God. Even the desert would sing (Isa. 35:2), “It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing.” However, more wonderful than creation singing is the admonishment in Psalm 95:1, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord.” Yes, amen (surely), music existed before preaching.
Jesus spoke of His pre-existence in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was; I Am.” Ponder this: before Adam and Abraham, before the church and preaching – Music Is. I am not saying that because music came before preaching that it is superior; nay, it is its Handmaiden.
Furthermore, there is no evidence from Scripture that music is a non-issue or “second fiddle” to the spoken Word in worship to our King. The pre-eminency is the Word, not the means by which it is conveyed. According to the Scriptures, music, singing and praise are inseparable. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord.”