Archives For Music

“Always the Same” is a beautiful hymn by Ron Hamilton that extols how Jesus is unchanging. Recently, four of us from my church ministered this hymn as an oboe, cello, viola, and guitar quartet.

“Old MacDonald” is a favorite kids’ song that many children learn at an early age. “David Learned to Play the Harp” is sung to the same tune, but it teaches some biblical truth.

This PDF provides the melody notes, lyrics, and guitar chords to play this song in the key of C. You can practice playing and singing the song using the audio provided below.

David Learned to Play the Harp

David learned to play the harp;
Little did he know;
That one day God would use him to
Make a demon go.

With a note, note here,
And a chord, chord there,
Ev’rywhere, ev’ry day,
He would play a psalm, psalm.

David learned to play the harp,
pleasing his God so.

Copyright © 2017 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Is the use of musical instruments in worship important? Several biblical lines of reasoning provide an answer to this crucial question.

Jewish Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Numerous passages of varying types reveal that the use of musical instruments in true worship of the Jews was divinely ordained (Ps. 33:1-3) and divinely accepted (2 Chron. 5:11-14). Such passages make clear that it was essential for God’s people to use musical instruments in worshiping Him.

Pagan Use of Musical Instruments in False Worship

Daniel 3 records a momentous instance of false worship that featured extensive use of musical instruments. In fact, no other passage of Scripture emphasizes the use of musical instruments in worship in quite the same manner as Daniel 3 does.

King Nebuchadnezzar forced people from all the nations that were under his dominion to respond to music as an impetus to false worship of the image that he had erected. No other passage of Scripture documents such an international occasion of false worship that employed what almost certainly was a vast number of musicians playing a vast number of musical instruments.

For reasons that we cannot know, King Nebuchadnezzar deemed it fitting that musical instruments be extensively used for his image to receive the worship that he desired for it to receive on this occasion. Scripture thus reveals to us that the paramount instance of false worship in human history to date involved the use of musical instruments on an unparalleled level in international affairs in human history.

The Divine Mandate for Worldwide Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Scripture reveals that God has commanded all peoples of the earth to worship Him using musical instruments:

Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

 5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.

Note that these commands were not given only to the Jews nor were these commands an aspect of any of the covenants that God made specifically with them. These commands were not a part of the Law.

All the earth has never obeyed these commands of God. Scripture provides no basis for holding that these commands are no longer the will of God.

Heavenly Use of Musical Instruments in True Worship

Several passages in Revelation teach us that heavenly worship features the use of musical instruments as a prominent aspect of such worship (Rev. 5:8-14; 14:2-3; 15:2-4). We can be certain that such use of musical instruments was not in any way of human origin; the worship of God in heaven has always been and will always be exactly and only what God has ordained.

Because God has given us revelation about the use of musical instruments in heavenly worship, we know that the use of musical instruments in true worship is an essential element of such worship.

Conclusion

God commanded His chosen people, the Jews, to worship Him with the use of musical instruments. He has commanded all the earth to do so.

The paramount instance of idolatrous worship recorded in Scripture included the vast use of instrumental music— how much more must true worship of the living and true God include such use of musical instruments. Revelation about heavenly worship confirms this view about the necessity of using musical instruments in true worship by showing us that musical instruments are central to the worship of God in heaven.

Based on this biblical data, the lack of specific NT mention of or command for such use in worship does not provide any valid basis for holding that we do not need to use musical instruments in our worship today. We must use musical instruments in our corporate worship to give God the glory that is due His name!

This fairly recent article (2012) explains the origins of rock music. It is not written by a “wacko” fundamentalist with an ax to grind—the author is a rock musician.

Reading this article (and many others like it) should make clear to any Christian the ungodly origins and nature of this musical style. God demands that we “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), including any such musical styles.

Note: I did not watch any of the videos that are in this article and would recommend strongly that you do not do so either.

Numbers 10:1-10 reveals that God directed His people to make two silver trumpets and then assigned specific meanings to various uses of those musical instruments. For example, blowing the trumpets signaled that the entire assembly gather at the door of the tabernacle (Num. 10:3) whereas blowing only one trumpet signaled to the princes to gather to Moses (Num. 10:4).

This passage shows that certain humans have been supernaturally directed concerning assigned musical meanings communicated by specific uses of certain musical instruments. Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians concerning an apparently well-understood response to a trumpet being used in a specific way (1 Cor. 14:7-8) may attest to something similar or may in fact refer back ultimately to God’s revelation to Moses that Numbers 10 records.

Scripture also reveals that demonic spirits have influenced human beings to do many things without those human beings having any knowledge about such influence directing them to do so (1 Chron. 21:1; 2 Chron. 18:21; Acts 5:3).

Just as God directed His people to do specific things with musical instruments that would convey specific assigned meanings, it is entirely possible that demonic spirits have influenced human beings to do things with musical instruments that communicate specific assigned meanings in the heavenly realm, meanings which are entirely unknown by humans and unknowable by them apart from supernatural revelation (either divine or demonic) about those meanings.

To hold that demonically assigned musical meanings to human use of musical instruments in specific ways is impossible has no biblical basis and goes against specific divine revelation about supernatural influences on humans that have directed them to do things that the humans had no knowledge were their actually doing what the supernatural beings wanted the humans to do. We must consider also that various rock musicians have testified of demonic influence upon them in their producing and playing their music.

Aside from the corrupting influences of rock music on its human hearers, we must consider the possibility that rock music has a demonically assigned meaning to it such that anyone who plays music in that style communicates anti-God sentiments to supernatural beings, sentiments which are humanly unknowable. Such a possibility provides one more valid reason for Christians not to listen to, play, or use rock music in any other way.

For us as Christians, no matter what our current circumstances may be, it will always be true that the Lord has dealt bountifully with us. Therefore, we should sing unto the Lord as long as we live, just as the Psalmist says that he would do:

Psalm 13:6 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

Psalm 146:2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Let us sing to the Lord as long as we live!

I praise God for the grace that He imparted me to minister His truth about music to the brethren of Foundation Baptist Church on March 26, 2017. At my request, Pastor Gillis has written a recommendation letter for my ministry.

He also shared the following “blurb” with me about my ministry:

Most Christians agree that music is an important factor in our worship of God. However, there is much debate about the style of music to be used. Most agree that what the words say is very important, but there is disagreement about the morality of the music itself. What do I think? That’s not important. What God says in His Word is, however, critical. Dr. Rajesh Gandhi recently spoke at our church on Acceptable Music for Corporate Worship. The four messages focused on what the Bible says about the subject. Foundational to the series was an effective refutation of the popular meme that music is neither right nor wrong (amoral). This was interwoven with a Biblical theology of music throughout the Bible and the history of man. For those who want to please God with all they do, including their music, this series of messages is essential. May God open the doors for this message to be taught.

If you know of any brethren who would be interested in having me minister to their people on this subject, please have them contact me. Thanks for any help that any of you as readers of this post is able to provide me with in reaching more brethren with these messages.

Dr. Steve D. Pettit recently preached a helpful chapel message on the subject of music.

Scripture provides more than 3000 verses pertaining to the subject of music. Based on an extensive analysis of the biblical revelation about human musical activity, I believe that a very helpful way to understand divine revelation about music is to organize that revelation chronologically into seven periods of human musical activity on earth.

The Seven Periods of Human Musical Activity on Earth

The following listing provides key passages concerning music in each period. As far as I can tell, the references in the first two periods are the only revelation that we have about music in those periods; the listing in the other periods is highly selective and leaves out much other revelation that is in Scripture.

1. Music before the Flood

Gen 4:21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

2. Music from the Flood to the Exodus

Job 21:12 They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.

Job 30:31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.

Job 35:10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;

Gen 31:27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?

3. Music from the Exodus to the Monarchy

Exo 15:1 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Exo 15:20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Exo 32:18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

Deu 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

Jdg 5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,

4. Music from the Monarchy to the Coming of Christ 

1Sa 16:23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psa 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,  3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Psa 2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Psa 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. 2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. 4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. 5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

Psa 106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.

1Ch 25:1 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:  3 Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD. . . .  6 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.  7 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.

2Ki 3:15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.

Dan 3:5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

Amo 5:23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.

5. Music at the Time of Christ

Mat 9:23 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,

Mat 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Luk 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

Luk 15:25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

6. Music in the Early Church

Act 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

Rom 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.

1Co 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

1Co 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

1Co 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Col 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 with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Jam 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

7. Music before the Great White Throne Judgment

Psa 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. 5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. 6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. 7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together 9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Rev 18:22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

Application

Through a careful analysis of the similarities and differences in human musical activity in these periods, we can learn much about what God wants us to know about music. Such a study is especially important for believers who want to worship God acceptably with corporate music that is fully in accord with all that He has revealed.

  1. Of the books of the Bible, Psalms is the longest book in several ways: it has the most chapters, verses, and words of any book, and it has the longest chapter in Scripture. Because the book of Psalms is entirely divinely inspired texts of songs that God’s people were to sing, the longest book in Scripture is entirely about music in that sense.
  2. Of the 150 Psalms, at least 124 have some explicit reference to something that has to do with music.
  3. Scripture provides us with the texts of at least 160 songs; besides Psalms, Song of Solomon is also a book of the Bible that is entirely inspired revelation about music because it is a song.
  4. There are more than 500 verses in Scripture that speak about music explicitly and more than 3000 verses total on the subject.
  5. At least 243 verses refer to singing, and 171 verses speak of musical instruments in some manner.

The NT highlights the importance of music in many additional ways:

  1. The NT quotes the book of Psalms more than any other book of the OT.
  2. The NT speaks of Christ’s singing when He was on the earth and of His singing someday in the future.
  3. The NT teaches that believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit, and the first listed result of that filling is believers’ ministering psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another; such believers sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord.
  4. The NT teaches that believers who have the Word of Christ dwelling richly in them sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to the Lord; such believer teach and admonish one another, including through their singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another.
  5. The NT teaches that believers who are merry are commanded to sing Psalms.
  6. The most important chapter on corporate worship in the Epistles speaks about musical instruments (1 Cor. 14:7-8), singing (1 Cor. 14:15-17), and the eagerness of every believer in the church at Corinth to minister a psalm (1 Cor. 14:26).
  7. The book of Revelation reveals that corporate worship in heaven includes singing accompanied by musical instruments.