Archives For Music

In addition to in the Psalms, Scripture records the lyrics of several key songs at considerable length. The song in Deuteronomy 32 has 43 verses; the songs in both Judges 5 and Isaiah 5 have 30 verses; and the song in 2 Samuel 22 has 50 verses.

Second Samuel 22:2-51 and Deuteronomy 32:1-43, the two longest songs in Scripture (outside of the Psalms), share a common feature that is noteworthy—Scripture records that both of these songs were spoken:

Deuteronomy 31:30 And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

2 Samuel 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.

Strikingly, both 2 Samuel 22 and Deuteronomy 32 lack any mention that these songs were sung on the first occasions of their use.

Moreover, David spoke the words of his song “unto the LORD” (2 Sam. 22:1).

Based on this data, we learn that oral recitation of the lyrics of entire songs is biblical, both to one another (cf. Moses to the people [Deut. 31:30; 32:44]) and to the Lord (2 Sam. 22:1)!

Do any ungodly ways of playing music exist? How can we know if there are any such ways?

By considering whether demons influence humans to play music in ungodly ways, we can answer both of these questions definitively!

Do Demons Influence Humans to Play Music in Ungodly Ways?

Demons incorrigibly and irredeemably oppose God. They are especially intent on denying Him the glory and worship due His name.

On every possible occasion and in every possible way, they seek to influence humans to worship in ungodly ways.

God has commanded that humans use musical instruments to worship Him. We, therefore, must hold that demons unceasingly seek to influence humans to play worship music in ungodly ways.

Only by presupposing that there are no ungodly ways to play music in worship can we deny that demons influence humans to play music in ungodly ways. Holding such a presupposition, however, does not have any biblical basis.

When, therefore, humans engage in activities that put them in fellowship with demons and subsequently produce music, we must hold that they play it in ungodly ways. Of course, we could not hold this view if a passage provides explicit biblical evidence that humans played music in godly ways in spite of demonic influence on them.

A Biblical Account of Demonically Influenced Music

In the Golden Calf Incident (GCI), humans in a worship context consumed what was offered to an idol (Ex. 32:6). When they did so, they came into fellowship with demons (1 Cor. 10:18-20).

After they had consumed the sacrificed foodstuffs, they produced music (Ex. 32:17-18). Because Exodus 32 does not provide us with any evidence that they played their music and sang in godly ways, we must hold that they did so in ungodly ways.

Again, the only way to escape this understanding is to presuppose that there are no ungodly ways to produce music in worship. Because such a presupposition does not have any valid basis, we must hold that the people in the GCI played demonically influenced music in ungodly ways.

Conclusion

Demonically influenced music does exist; in fact, the Bible provides indisputable evidence that demons have influenced humans to produce music in ungodly ways. Holding that there are no ungodly ways to play music, therefore, is an indefensible presupposition and position that we must reject.

Few believers understand that Scripture provides us with an inspired record of demonically influenced music!

To understand where and how it does so, see my posts in this thread: We Must Heed the Vital Message of 1 Corinthians 10:18-20.

Genesis 4:21 provides the earliest recorded information about human musical activity. Consequently, I have been studying it extensively to probe what it reveals to us about music.

Recently, God has provided me with much additional illumination related to interpreting this revelation properly. Therefore, I would like to invite you to profit from this ongoing discussion: What Does Genesis 4:21 Teach Us about Music?

The early Christian writers aimed no polemic at the nobler art music or the folk music of their day. Had they been opposed to it, they would no doubt have spoken against it. Their denunciations of music were not general; rather, they were aimed at a few well-defined targets: the music of the popular public spectacles, the music associated with voluptuous banqueting, the music associated with pagan weddings, and the music of pagan religious rites and festivities. As we have already seen, they were not alone in their denunciations. They joined their voices with those of pagan Romans who were painfully aware of the decay of their civilization.

—Calvin R. Stapert, A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church, 145

At least 21 verses in Scripture record instances of shouting directly connected with singing or playing musical instruments. These passages relate instances of divine, angelic, and human shouting.

Divine Shouting

One passage clearly records an instance of divine shouting connected directly to music.

Psalm 47:5 God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

Angelic Shouting

Not only does Scripture record divine shouting connected directly to music, but also it records angelic shouting connected directly with music.

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Human Shouting

In addition to passages recording divine and angelic shouting directly connected with music, many passages record human shouting directly connected with music. All the major sections of the OT contain at least one such passage.

The Law

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 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.

Historical Books

2 Sam. 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

1 Chr. 15:28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.

2 Chr. 15:14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.

Ezr. 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

Ezr. 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

Ezr. 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

Poetry or Wisdom Books

Ps. 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Ps. 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Ps. 35:27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

Ps. 47:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.> O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

Ps. 65:13 The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.

Ps. 132:9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

Ps. 132:16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.

The Prophets

Isa. 12:6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Isa. 42:11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.

Isa. 44:23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

Jer. 31:7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Zeph. 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

Application

This wealth of biblical data shows the musical importance of shouting. Commands of worldwide scope (Ps. 47:1; Is. 44:23) especially highlight that importance.

Not everyone can sing well, but almost everyone who can speak can shout. Given that Scripture plainly teaches the musical importance of shouting for every believer (Ps. 5:11, 32:11, 35:27), churches would do well to add regular corporate shouting of praise to God (cf. Ezra 3:11) to their other musical worship activities.

 

 

 

Profoundly dangerous teaching about music from an influential writer on the subject:

Because true Christianity cannot be thought of apart from new creation, there should be no kind of music, however radical, however new, however strange, that is out of place in Christian worship, as long as it is faithfully offered. And no Christian, truly living by faith, should ever turn his or her back on and refuse to offer a musical piece simply because it is too radical.

—Harold M. Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, 154

A large group of people who virulently hate God gather in a remote location to curse God corporately for an extended period. Their blasphemous activities include the use of lots of musical instruments.

This group uses melodies in songs written by and known only to the people who attend the event. The instrumental music played throughout the event to accompany the singing is all new music written specifically for the event.

A Secret Recording

At some distance from the event, some animal researchers happen to hear the loud musical sounds emanating from the gathering. Fearing for their personal safety, the researchers do not want the large group to discover their presence.

The researchers have with them state of the art audio equipment. They use it secretly from a distance to record the musical activities of the blasphemers. Because of the distance involved, the equipment cannot pick up any of the lyrics of the songs. The equipment only records the composite sound from a distance of the singing accompanied by the musical instruments.

The researchers do not know anything about the nature of the group or why they have gathered. They cannot hear any of the words the people sing, but they are able to tell that the group is singing.

What Should We Think?

From a human standpoint, what are we to think of the morality of the composite sound that the researchers record? Anyone who would hear that recording of the composite sound would not know anything about either the words being sung or the instrumental music accompanying it. Would that composite sound recording, therefore, be an amoral musical recording for any people who hear it?

God, angels, and demons, however, would know exactly all that the group did and and sang on this occasion. Because of their full knowledge about the event, would that recording still be an amoral recording simply because it is a recording of composite sound of humanly unknown and unknowable lyrics sung to musical accompaniment that is humanly unknown and unknowable?

Exodus 32 is an important passage in Scripture on the subject of worship. I recently engaged in a lengthy online discussion on Sharper Iron concerning that passage: “How Does God Want Christians to Profit concerning Worship from Exodus 32:17-20.”

I then conducted a follow-up poll on the question: “Is Exodus 32:17-18 divine revelation about worship music?

Respondents chose from 7 answers: “Yes, for sure; Probably; Maybe; Not sure; Probably not; No; or, Absolutely not.”

Poll Results

The results of the poll were shocking. Out of 22 respondents, 3 voted “No” and 14 voted “Absolutely not.” Only 2 people voted “Yes, for sure” and 1 voted “Probably.”1

Poll Analysis

Are the majority of the responses in this poll the correct view about Exodus 32:17-18? A careful analysis of the passage and of other relevant passages answers that question decisively.

Undeniably, Exodus 32:17-18 is divine revelation that has been given by inspiration of the Spirit:

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 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.

Because verse 18 mentions singing explicitly, these verses are undeniably divine revelation about music. The only question that remains is whether these verses are divine revelation about worship music.

Exodus 32:5 shows that what took place in the Golden Calf Incident (GCI) took place on an occasion that was supposed to have been a feast to the Lord, which would have been a divinely ordained occasion of corporate worship (cf. John 12:20). In addition, apostolic citation of Exodus 32:6 in 1 Corinthians 10:7 decisively shows that the GCI was an occasion of worship because it says that they were idolaters on that occasion:

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

1 Corinthians 10:7 μηδὲ εἰδωλολάτραι γίνεσθε, καθώς τινες αὐτῶν· ὡς γέγραπται, Ἐκάθισεν ὁ λαὸς φαγεῖν καὶ πιεῖν, καὶ ἀνέστησαν παίζειν.

Furthermore, Paul specifies that their idolatrous worship extended to their eating and drinking what had been offered to the idol and to their subsequent playing. The Greek verb παίζειν that is rendered “to play” in this statement is used in the LXX to signify singing and playing of musical instruments:

1 Chr. 13:8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

1 Chr. 13:8 καὶ Δαυιδ καὶ πᾶς Ισραηλ παίζοντες ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ ἐν ψαλτῳδοῖς καὶ ἐν κινύραις καὶ ἐν νάβλαις ἐν τυμπάνοις καὶ ἐν κυμβάλοις καὶ ἐν σάλπιγξιν

This biblical data justifies holding that the idolatrous worship in the GCI included their singing.

Conclusion

In spite of the prevailing view to the contrary that is held by most of the respondents to this poll, a careful handling of Exodus 32:17-18 shows that it is definitively divine revelation concerning worship music.


Notes

1 One of the people who responded to this poll on SI conducted the same poll in a closed Facebook group of fundamentalist pastors. He found that 24 of the 30 pastors said that Exodus 32:17-18 is not divine revelation about worship music. If anything, his results are more shocking than mine are because of the nature of the group that he polled.

A professional CCM musician recently made the following revealing comment to an online article about CCM:

I’m a professional musician who has and does work with some of the most well known CCM artists. I’ve done tours, recorded on their albums , etc.. I can tell you first hand that it’s about the bottomline, not Jesus. The hypocrisy is rampant. And I will say many are not believers. I was on a tour bus one year with a well known act and I was mocked for reading my bible. I was yelled at by the drummer for calling out heretics on TBN. Many musicians like myself who work in the CCM market are not believers. They all call themselves Christian’s, but their words and actions betray them. And the biblical ignorance is beyond breathtaking. There ate [sic] true believers players and artists alike, but far and few between.

This article provides telling information about CCM. The comments are especially informative.