MUSIC IN THE BIBLE
We were created to worship God and to bless one another. Our music should focus on praising Him. Here are several quotations which will help us better understand the deep value of godly song:
"Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 91.
"Jehovah, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all, is alone entitled to supreme reverence and worship. Man is forbidden to give to any other object the first place in his affections or his service. Whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that do we make a god."—Ibid., p. 305.
"Music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which is pure, noble, and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devotion and gratitude to God.
"What a contrast between the ancient custom and the uses to which music is now too often devoted! How many employ this gift to exalt self instead of using it to glorify God!
"A love for music leads the unwary to unite with world lovers in pleasure gatherings where God has forbidden His children to go. Thus that which is a great blessing when rightly used, becomes one of the most successful agencies by which Satan allures the mind from duty and from the contemplation of eternal things."—Ibid., p. 594.
"They [the youth] have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting . . Music, when not abused, is a great blessing; but when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. It excites, but does not impart that strength and courage which the Christian can find only at the throne of grace while humbly making known his wants and with strong cries and tears pleading for heavenly strength to be fortified against the powerful temptations of the evil one."—1 Testimonies, p. 497.
"No one who has an indwelling Saviour will dishonor Him before others by producing strains from a musical instrument which call the mind from God and heaven to light and trifling things."—1 Testimonies, p. 510.
"Satan is leading the young captive. Oh, what can I say to lead them to break his power of infatuation! He is a skillful charmer, luring them on to perdition."—1 Testimonies, p. 497.
"The history of the songs of the Bible is full of suggestion as to the uses and benefits of music and song. Music is often perverted to serve purposes of evil, and it thus becomes one of the most alluring agencies of temptation. But, rightly employed, it is a precious gift of God, designed to uplift the thoughts to high and noble themes, to inspire and elevate the soul.
"As the children of Israel, journeying through the wilderness, cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life. There are few means more effective for fixing His words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort.
"It is one of the most effective means of impressing the heart with spiritual truth. How often to the soul hard-pressed and ready to despair, memory recalls some word of God's—the long-forgotten burden of a childhood song,—and temptations lose their power, life takes on new meaning and new purpose, and courage and gladness are imparted to other souls!
"The value of song as a means of education should never be lost sight of. Let there be singing in the home, of songs that are sweet and pure, and there will be fewer words of censure and more of cheerfulness and hope and joy. Let there be singing in the school, and the pupils will be drawn closer to God, to their teachers, and to one another.
"As a part of religious service, singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a song is prayer. If the child is taught to realize this, he will think more of the meaning of the words he sings and will be more susceptible to their power.
"As our Redeemer leads us to the threshold of the Infinite, flushed with the glory of God, we may catch the themes of praise and thanksgiving from the heavenly choir round about the throne; and as the echo of the angels' song is awakened in our earthly homes, hearts will be drawn closer to the heavenly singers. Heaven's communion begins on earth. We learn here the keynote of its praise."—Education, pp. 167-168.
The Bible gives us excellent instruction about music, and its uses and dangers.
Miriam and Moses used godly songs of praise to celebrate the triumph over the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 15:1-21). David used music to express his love for God in the Psalms. Children used it to express their joyful hallelujahs as Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem (Matt 21:15-16).
It will flood all heaven as the redeemed of all ages gather on the sea of glass before the throne of God:
"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."—Isaiah 35:10.
In that wonderful, final day of reunion in heaven, God Himself will rejoice over us with singing!
"The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing."—Zephaniah 3:17.
"And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."—Psalm 40:3.
The "new song" God wants to give us is a song of richest praise to Him, because we have become His truly converted little children! (Ps 33:3; 40:3; 93:1; 92:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10).
"O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised."—Psalm 96:1-4.
"The heavens shall praise Thy wonders, O Lord: Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord?"—Psalm 89:5-6.
Harps, lyres, and cymbals were the musical instruments used in Bible times. The first two are soft, melodious string instruments.
"String instruments were used extensively to accompany singing, since they would not cover up the voice or the 'word of the Lord' which was being sung."—Garen Wolf, The Music of the Bible in Christian Perspective, p. 287.
The cymbals were only used to mark the beginning of the song or stanzas:
"The cymbals were not used by the precantor to conduct the singing by beating out the rhythm of the song, but rather to announce the beginning of the song or a stanza in the song."—John Kleinig, The Lord's Song, p. 82.
"The percussive instruments were reduced to one cymbal which was not employed in the music proper, but merely to mark pauses and intermissions."—A.Z. Idelssohn, Jewish Music in Its Historical Development, p. 17.
Because of this, Israel's music was softer and more sweetly melodious than that of the nations around them. This can be deduced from Exodus 32:17-19. When Moses and Joshua heard the aggressive Egyptian-type sounds from below, Joshua interpreted it as the sound of war. But Moses recognized it as worldly singing.
When King Saul, because of his evil thinking, was overcome by an evil spirit, the godly young man, David, would be called in to help him with the soft melodies of his voice, accompanied on the harp. It would be unthinkable that David would use rock music, with its demonic origins, to help one tormented by a demon! Instead, he played gentle, calming music on his harp (1 Samuel 16:23). It would be equally impossible for Christians today to be able to use worldly music to help those controlled by Satan.
The music of the surrounding nations was far different than that of Israel's,—because the purposes of their worship, and the gods whom they worshiped, were far different:
"At the great fire-festival of Astarte . . the orgiastic music of double oboes, cymbals, and drums created among the onlookers such a delirious frenzy that young men emasculated themselves with their own hands."—Alfred Sendrey, Music in the Social and Religious Life of Antiquity, p. 69.
"The characteristics of musical civilization of the ancient peoples in the Near East . . [have] . . a rather homogeneous pattern. This music, for the most part, had a sensuous, orgiastic quality. Its character was . . determined by the use of blaring trumpets, or harsh sounding horns, of noisy cymbals, and of an arsenal of instruments of percussion, which created a mood and a tone color considered orgiastic by their contemporaries. Sedate and dignified music . . [with] the noble outlines of its melodic aspect . . did not come into its own prior to the Hebrews."—Ibid., pp. 75-76.
This lure of worldly music may be one of the reasons why the Hebrews were so often drawn to the idolatrous worship of surrounding nations.
"At Balaam's suggestion, a grand festival in honor of their gods was appointed by the king of Moab, and it was secretly arranged that Balaam should induce the Israelites to attend . . Great numbers of the people joined him in witnessing the festivities . . Beguiled with music and dancing, and allured by the beauty of heathen vestals, they cast off their fealty to Jehovah."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 454.
The Apostle Paul predicted that, later on, "grievous wolves [will] enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30). We must continually be on guard.
That which is called "contemporary Christian music" is not an alternative to the music of the world;—it is the same basic thing! The Bible commands us in Romans 12:2: "And be not conformed to this world."
That is not a request, but a clear command issued to every believer! God says we are not to conform to this world! The word, "conform," means "to fashion or shape one thing like another." "Conform" has to do with an outward change. "Transform" speaks about the inward change which must also take place. Here is another command of God:
"And they [pastors and youth leaders] shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean."—Ezekiel 44:23.
There are two aspects to sin. One is doing what God says I am not to do and the other is not doing what God says I am to do.
If you do not want to lose your soul, get away from contemporary "Christian" jazz and rock music—as far as you can! Get out, stay out, and work to get others out!
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."—2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret."—Ephesians 5:11-12.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith."—1 Peter 5:8-9.
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits."—Matthew 7:14-16.
God is speaking to every church: If they refuse to cast out the heathen altars, He will give them up to the temptations they are enchanted by.
"Ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars.
"But ye have not obeyed My voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you."—Judges 2:2-3.
"They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils."—Psalm 106:34-37 (also read down to verse 43).
God wants us to praise Him with godly music. This is the happy, joyful task He gives us. We are to begin now, and continue throughout all eternity!
"Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."—Ephesians 5:18-20.
"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."—Colossians 3:16.
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."—1 Corinthians 10:31.
"I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me."—Hebrews 2:12-13.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."—Philippians 4:8.
God has woven music into the very fabric of His Creation. When He made all things, the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:7). The book of Revelation portrays heaven as a place of ceaseless praise, with songs of adoration to God and the Lamb resounding from all (Rev 4:9-11; 5:9-13; 7:10-12; 12:10-12; 14:1-3; 15:2-4; 19:1-8).
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."—Revelation 5:9-13.