Archives For Interpretation

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)!

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.

God provides much additional revelation in the NT about OT personages, events, and passages that the OT does not provide. Believers must, therefore, use the NT to interpret the OT in all such cases.

If they do not do so, Christians will lack information and understanding in their views that God intended for them to have.

Numerous Examples

Numerous examples show that the NT illumines our understanding of the OT with information not provided in the OT. The following 13 passages show just how important it is to use the NT to interpret the OT.

Examples in the Gospels

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

The OT speaks of God’s feeding the birds (Job 38:41; Ps. 147:9), but the NT makes clear that it is the Father who does so.

John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Readers of only the OT did not know that this divine teaching ministry spoke of what the Father would do.

Examples in Acts

Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them.

The OT does not provide any revelation about any god named Remphan or that the Israelites did these things at that time.

Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Acts 13:33 tells us that God fulfilled an ancient promise by raising Jesus, as it is written in Psalm 2.  Anyone reading just the statement about the Son in Psalm 2:7 would not have the ability to know that truth.

Examples in the Epistles

1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Any believer reading just the OT would never know that the Rock that followed them in the wilderness wanderings was Christ.

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The OT does not provide any information about Abraham’s seeking for such a city.

2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness.

Reading just the OT, a believer would never have known that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.

2 Peter 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.

Anyone who just reads the OT would not have any confident basis to know that Lot was a just man.

1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.

Having only the OT, a believer would not have sufficient basis to know confidently that Cain was of the devil.

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

The OT speaks of God’s burying Moses (Deut. 34:6), but only the NT reveals this battle between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses.

Jude 1:14 Enoch  . . . prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all.

From the OT alone, a reader would not know that Enoch was a prophet who proclaimed a glorious Messianic prophecy!

Examples in Revelation

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

Anyone reading just the OT would not know that the devil controlled and directed the serpent who deceived Eve.

Application

These thirteen examples show that it is essential to use the NT to interpret the OT whenever the NT provides information that the OT does not. Only then will we understand properly what God wants us to know about those personages, events, passages, etc.

Furthermore, these examples show how vital it is to read the whole Bible and not just certain parts of it. Only by reading the whole Bible will we have the fullness of understanding that God wants us to have!

Genesis 1-8 provides the inspired record of the events from Creation to the Flood. Genesis 4 records the first instance of a human who engaged in worship that God rejected (Gen. 4:3-7).

We also have a record in Genesis 4 of two instances of two people who originated certain activities:

Genesis 4:20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.

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

It’s noteworthy that Scripture does not provide us with any information in Genesis 4-8 about false worship involving idolatry prior to the Flood. In fact, Scripture does not give us any specific information about when humans first made idols and worshiped them.

Considering the information that has been given to us in Genesis 4 about Jabal and Jubal both originating certain things/practices/activities, it is puzzling to me that the Spirit saw fit to give us that information instead of giving us information about when humans first made objects to use in idolatrous worship.

I wonder why God has chosen to give us the revelation that He did in Genesis 4:20-21, but He has not chosen to give us information about the beginnings of idolatrous worship.

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?

Scripture reveals that ancient Babylon was shockingly a nation characterized by an immense prevalence of human involvement in occult practices:

Isaiah 47:8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
15 Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.

With at least seven statements in this passage about the occult practices of ancient Babylon, we understand that it was a nation whose people had pervasive contact with evil supernatural spirits. A right understanding of the wickedness of this nation must foremost account for this profound revelation.

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.

The Spirit has spoken about what took place in the Golden Calf Incident (GCI) in at least six passages in six different books of the Bible (57 total verses in Exod. 32, Deut. 9, Neh. 9, Ps. 106, Acts 7, and 1 Cor. 10). God has thus highlighted what took place in the GCI in a way that demands our careful attention to what He has revealed about that event.

Exodus 32, the longest record of that event, reveals that singing was a part of what took place on that occasion:

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. 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Because the Spirit has given this revelation to us about their singing, we know that He intends for us to profit from it. Does He want us to understand that their singing on this occasion was ungodly singing?

Was Their Singing Ungodly?

To answer this question, we note that the passage does not provide any record of an explicitly negative evaluation of the singing. The record, however, shows that from a distance the sound of the singing was not of such a nature that it would have led everyone who heard it to know definitively that it was the sound of singing.

We know that this is true because Joshua did not accurately interpret that sound that he was hearing as the sound of singing. For him, the sound was of such a character that he thought that the people were engaged in fighting a war (Exod. 32:17).

Moses, however, discerned correctly that the sound that they were hearing from a distance was the sound of singing (Exod. 32:18). Because the passage does not record any evaluative statements by Moses of the singing, we cannot determine its character from any direct statement by him.

A Broader Consideration of Their Singing

In order to evaluate further the nature of the sound of the singing that Moses heard, we have to examine the passage more broadly. When we do so, we find that this singing did not take place until the people had first engaged in eating sacrifices that had been offered to the golden calf:

Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Because the Spirit says that the people “rose up to play” after they had consumed the sacrifices and then He reveals to us specifically that what the people did was to sing (Exod. 32:18) and dance (Exod. 32:19), we learn that their playing on this occasion consisted at least of their singing and dancing.

Based on Moses’ anger waxing hot when he saw the dancing (and the calf; Exod. 32:19), we know that their dancing was ungodly dancing. Was their singing also ungodly?

The NT answers that question by revealing the divine evaluation of their playing on this 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.

It is crucial to note that Paul writes that their idolatry included not just their eating and drinking those sacrifices but also their subsequent playing. This revelation tells us that their playing on that occasion was of a wicked, idolatrous nature and that God commands us through this revelation not to be idolatrous in that way.

Based on this NT revelation, we know that both their singing and dancing were of a wicked, idolatrous nature that God commands us not to engage in.

Conclusion

The sound that Joshua and Moses heard from a distance was the sound of people engaging in singing idolatrously—Exodus 32 is the record of an event featuring the sound of ungodly singing!

 

We are not told that Noah took any marine life into the Ark. The biblical data about the Flood itself does not indicate that the Flood destroyed all marine life.

Also, the Noahic Covenant was only between God and every living that was with Noah on the Ark, which implies that the Flood did not destroy all marine life:

Gen. 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Gen. 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Gen. 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Gen. 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Gen. 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

If we were to have held that the Flood had destroyed all marine life as well as all terrestrial life (except for those that were on the Ark), it would seem that we would have had to have held that God had to have created anew all marine life after the Flood.

Why did God spare all marine life at this time but destroy all terrestrial life (except those that were in the Ark)?

The Golden Calf Incident (GCI) is an infamous biblical account of idolatrous worship. Exodus 32 provides the lengthiest record of what took place on that occasion and informs us that both singing and dancing were part of their worship:

Exodus 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.

Exodus 32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

In spite of the record of their singing and dancing, many people believe that the lack of mention of musical instruments in any of the passages that record the GCI means that there were no musical instruments used in their worship at that time. Is it a reasonable position to hold that these people sang a cappella and danced “a musica”1?

The Relevance of Exodus 15 to the Interpretation of Exodus 32

After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea and God had drowned Pharaoh and all his hosts, the Israelites sang praise to God for the deliverance that He had provided them (Exod. 15:1-19). Miriam then led all the women in singing and dancing that was accompanied by the playing of timbrels:

Exodus 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.

Exodus 15 thus establishes an important precedent that the Israelites used musical instruments in corporate worship of God that included both singing and dancing. Because we know that the Israelites had at least timbrels and had used them prior to the GCI in worship that included both singing and dancing, we do not have any biblical basis to hold that the Israelites did not use at least timbrels in the GCI.

Conclusion

Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, there is no reasonable basis to hold that the GCI was an occasion of idolatrous worship where the people sang and danced without the use of any musical instruments. Exodus 32 is not a record of singing and dancing without the use of musical instruments.


1“A musica” is a term that I coined to signify when dancing is done without the use of musical instruments to accompany the dancing.