The Ministry of Song
1. Read Psalm 150: it mentions all of the instruments in the Jewish orchestra that were used in Temple worship. In verse 6 the psalmist concludes with: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. God is not suggesting song, he commands it!
2. God’s angelic realm sings!
In Job 38:6, 7 God elects to accompany His creation of the universe by commanding the angelic choirs to sing His praise!
3. In 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14 we find this glorious scene:
Indeed, it came to pass, when the trumpeters and the singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD…they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD saying, ‘For His is good, For His mercy endures forever,’ that the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (Also check out verses 11 and 12.) It is exciting to see that God chose the instant the music was sounded to inhabit His house.
4. Look at our music ministry’s theme verse: Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing in your hearts to the Lord.
Although we are not limited to choirs, organs or even music in the worship of God, it certainly pleases Him to have us use them. We’ll briefly list some of the reasons the Lord wants us to praise Him using music:
1. God hears our music…and it delights Him. (There are over 200 direct commands in Scripture for His people to praise Him in song.)
2. God knows, because He created music and created us as musical beings, that one of the most direct ways into our “innermost being” is through music.
3. As our Creator, He knows how valuable music is to instruct our rebellious hearts in His ways. This is the value and function that St. Paul stresses so consistently.
We’ll talk much more about this in the weeks ahead using 1 Chronicles 25 as a further reference point as to “Why We Sing!”
Singing is a Divine Calling
In the book of 1 Chronicles, we find the first description of the “priestly calling” regarding the use of music in the formal worship of God. But, this mention of music is not the first time we see music referenced in the Old Testament.
As we discussed last time, the angelic host accompanied God’s creative work by singing songs of praise. (Job 38) Moses and Miriam led the Israelites in praise after their triumphant Red Sea crossing. (Exodus 32) Deborah sang praise (“under God”) for delivering the Israelites from Barak. (Judges 4)
Part of Saul’s preparation for becoming the first King of Israel included “prophesying”: with a variety of musical instruments. (I Samuel 10) (To ‘prophesy’ was not ‘predicting the future’, but it described creating musical proclamation and exhortation–God’s truth–through the lyrics of the music.) And, of course, there is Elisha’s famous command to “bring me a musician…” found in 2 Kings 3:14-16. These are but a few instances of the use of music in the Old Testament before David organized the Levites in a mighty musical force.
In 1 Chron. 16:1-4, we see that as soon as the Ark of the Covenant was placed in its tent in the City of David (Jerusalem) the Levites began their highly organized duties of praising God. Inspired by God, King David “invented” a variety of instruments that would be used on a daily basis for the praise and worship of God.
He chose 4,000 skilled Levites to be full-time instrumentalists and singers. To lead this highly structured music program, David designated four Levites as the leaders of the Levitical music organization:
* Chenaniah, leader of all the Levites. A great singer and skillful in music. His job was to train all the singers.
* Asaph, the chief of all musicians. 55 Psalms are dedicated to him; He was to lead the great choir and to be in charge of training the musicians.
* Heman, associate chief musician. He apparently wrote Psalm 88.
* Jeduthun (sometimes referred to as Ethan), associate chief musician. His name is mentioned at the beginning of three psalms: 39, 62, and 77. He was a skilled musician and prophesied “to give thanks and praise the LORD.”
From David–until today, it is clear that the people of God cannot worship Him in any way that they please. God’s direction to David set a principle in motion that is just as important in our worship today as it was almost 3,000 year ago. More next time…
(If you have a chance, read 1 Chronicles 15, 16 and 25.
Singing is a Calling
In Job 38, God ordained the ‘morning stars’ (His angelic host) to sing praise to Him the very split-second the universe (and the earth!) came into being. It was an incredibly dramatic scene as the angels’ glorious song of praise echoed throughout the immensity of the universe–and in all likelihood is still reverberating at this very moment!
Hence, from the very onset of time itself, God chose singing to be the means for praise and worship. Throughout Scripture, we find this pattern to still be the rule: music is always at the forefront in the praise and worship of God.
For the Christian, this is a great distinctive as they have an incredible incentive to sing! All humankind can sing, but only God’s chosen ones have been called to sing praise to Him.
At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells the true believer. (Romans 8:9; cf. John 7:38-39) This incredible moment of salvation–a miracle!–is the occasion for Christ to indwell a believer by the Holy Spirit. The moment that happens, the Spirit takes up residence in that person’s life.
Then, whether they are aware of it or not, a life of continuous praise begins. This continuous life of praise is not an option, but in reality, it is a mandate. For as Ephesians 5:18, 19 says:
Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…
It’s critical to remember that apart from God’s Spirit, no one can fulfill God’s will for his/her life. Receiving God’s Spirit is a “one-time” event. But, the continuous aspect of being filled (think of it as “being kept filled”) involves a day-by-day, moment-by-moment submission to the Spirit’s control.
Being “filled with the Spirit” is not something we do, but what we allow to be done in us. This “filling” is entirely the work of the Spirit Himself, but He works only through our willing submission!
If the, being filled with the Spirit is only for true believers, singing praise to God is reserved for those who are followers of Christ. As believers sing praise to God, they fill their minds and hearts with God’s Word and they allow His thoughts to become their thoughts and His will their will.
At Creation, the angels sang. Throughout our entire lives, we do the same: we manifest our joy and love for God by singing the song of the angels:
This article ‘The Ministry of Song’ written by Susan Tower, was excerpted from: www.songandhymn.com web site. November 2009. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’