The Biblical Role of Music in the Church Today
Dr. Lindel M. Anderson
It is good for us to keep in mind that music is God’s idea. He created it in eternity past to serve a purpose. That purpose is to glorify and to magnify Him.
Music was created to glorify God in eternity past. Then the one who was an actual musical instrument in a sense, fell. God then creates a being in His image, after His likeness that again has properties of instrumentation built into him (strings, pipe, vocalization, clapping, genius for composing) man:
Cain’s descendant, Jubal, developed the organ and harp. But the possibility is that it was not used to glorify God with, but rather for man’s baser elements, or worse yet, to praise false deities in opposition to God.
After the flood in approximately 2348 B.C., musical instruments again proliferated, as testified in archeological discoveries of the period. Beautiful harps, songs, both human and to deity have been discovered from this time period.
Music was known to the Israelites, as evidenced by their singing, dancing and the usage of timbrels in rejoicing to God for the victory at the Red Sea.
The digging of a well was celebrated in song in Numbers 21:17-18
Moses wrote a song for the children of Israel for memory and instruction in Deut. 31:30-32:46. This would have been about 1451 B.C.
The prophetess Deborah and Barak sang a song in praise of their victory over the Canaanites in Judges 5 in about 1296 B.C.
Isn’t it interesting how 2 prophetesses, Miriam and Deborah, used music in praise to the Lord? This foretells the future use of music with Elisha prophesying and receiving direction for victory with a minstrel playing in 2 Kings 3:15 (approx. 895B.C.); and David and others writing the Psalms, which actually means songs to be accompanied by a musical instrument, and “praises”. It is also fascinating that in the instance of Elisha, he requested the minstrel, knowing the prophetic would flow from it.
Saul was told to look for a company of prophets in I Samuel 10:5. These prophets would have the .following musical instruments: a psaltery, a tabret, a pipe, and a harp. Why would these prophets have these instruments? Possibly to facilitate in exercising the prophetic gift.
David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) was a musician and songwriter. This lets us know that music originated in the heart of God.
When David slew Goliath, the women of Israel celebrated in song in I Samuel 18:6, 7. Not only was David the author of 73 Psalms (songs), Amos 6:5 indicates that he actually invented musical instruments. These would have evidently been used to praise the Lord with. David had a trained choir of 288, which continued for around 5 centuries. The songs of Zion were famous in neighboring countries (Ps. 137:3).
When David soothed Saul with music, the evil spirit which tormented Saul left, evidently just by the melody. This shows us it is important what type of music we play. If one type of music drives demons away, I wonder if other types would attract them?
Solomon composed 1,005 songs (I Kings 4:32).
God commanded the children of Israel to fight in song in II Chronicles 20:20-22 (also see Psalm 149:49; and then Psalm 150 where we are commanded to praise the LORD with musical instruments as well as our physical bodies). .
It is no coincidence that the largest book in the Bible is a song book!
In the New Testament, we find that the same God who invented music for His glory still uses music for His purposes.
Jesus sang a hymn with His disciples at the last supper (Matthew 26:30). He is shown singing in His Church in Hebrews 2:12.
Paul tells us in Romans 15:9 to sing unto the name of Jesus!
He also tells us to sing in our native language, and that we may sing in tongues sometimes in I Cor. 14:15.
In Eph. 5:19 Paul instructs us to sing to one another and to ourselves in our heart with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
He then instructs us to teach and admonish one another with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This is bringing us back to the OT practice of teaching God’s principles with music.
James tells us when we are merry, to sing Psalms (James 5:13).
In approx. 52 A.D. James said the Church was to rebuild the tabernacle of David. David’s tabernacle was that temporary structure that housed the ark of God and His shekinah presence until David’s son could build God a temple to dwell in.
David knew God wanted more than ritual, He wanted relationship. When God said to rejoice in the feast days and offerings in Deut., He meant it. And David had gasped -this. Now what David had discovered, the Church would rebuild, and its purpose according to the text was for witnessing.
Then in Revelation, we get a glimpse into eternity, with musical instruments and singing going on in Heaven (Rev. 14:2; 15:3). The eternal purpose of God will be ultimately fulfilled in Heaven throughout ages long. Our job -is to start here for witnessing, glory to God, teaching and admonishing, and edification! “The LORD is my strength and my song, and is become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14
The above article, ‘The Biblical Role of Music In Church Today,’ is written by Lindel Anderson. The article was excerpted from Class Handout Notes, 2008 Music Fest, Indianapolis, IN.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.