Music: Let’s Get Biblical


Egyptian Lute Players

Egyptian Lute Players

Music outside the church is a very personal thing, and many people are very passionate about their music.

Within the church, music can be very divisive, and people’s personal ideas about music have caused many a church split.

I’ve led worship in various avenues in the church for over 15 years, and even when I led in youth group music was divisive, preferences were stated, and while a church split never arose, there were some heated discussions.

Why is this?  Why is music such a sore point with so many people?  Why is the issue so divisive?

Does anyone look to God’s Word?  Or do we all just assume that our personal preferences are exactly what God would have?

My purpose in writing this is to take a brief look at what God’s Word has to say (or not) in regard to music during cooperate worship.

If you do a search in the New Testament for music, sing, play, or dance, you will find that the following verses contain such words and actually are speaking in regard to something about music: Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; James 5:13.

But what do these verses teach?  Do they tell us that God is most glorified by organ music?  No.  Do they tell us never to use an electric guitar?  No.  In fact, these verses tell us very little in regards to the specifics of what our music should sound like or what style it should be.

Interesting.

So is there any biblical merit in saying that an organ glorifies God more than an electric guitar.  No.

Someone might say, “Well, an organ is traditional, and an electric guitar is of the devil!”

Oh really?

Let’s take a trip into Biblical history shall we?

David, the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam. 23:1), it seems used a certain pagan instrument in his worship of the Lord.  The harp (actually technically it was a lyre).  And actually, ALL the instruments Israel used were pagan – Israel did not invent any of its own instruments.  All the instruments used in the worship of God were instruments that were used by other nations, none of them were unique.  And these instruments were used in the worship of other gods (can you say, satan?).

Biblically, I think the clearest proof of this is during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, “that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up.” (Daniel 3:5)

And extra-biblically, there is much proof that other nations used the same instruments that Israel used, to worship their false gods (look it up in any book regarding the music of the Ancient Near East, or just use Wikipedia for examples).

So it is not biblical to say that any instrument is satanic.  Even styles of music cannot be biblically said to be satanic.  Pretty much all instruments have been used in something other than the worship of God.  And Israel did not make their own “heavenly” style of music – it used the same instruments and styles of their day.

So instead of getting all bent out of shape about instruments and styles of music, our thoughts should be influenced by Scripture.

I am not saying that the content of the lyrics of songs is not important, in fact, if there is instruction from Scripture concerning our music – lyrical content is where you will find that instruction.

But when it comes to style and instruments, we cannot mark any instrument off the list or any style off the list just because the world uses it.  On the contrary, if there is any precedent in Scripture, we SHOULD use the same instruments as the culture around us uses.

It is a dangerous thing to put tradition above Scripture.  Let us remember the words of Jesus:

““Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”” (Mark 7:8-13)

3 Responses to Music: Let’s Get Biblical

  1. Chris Gatihi says:

    Brother,

    Amen and amen! My heart exactly. Thank you for this post. It’s really timely in light of a conversation I’m having with another brother (thank You, Lord).

    And congratulations on the birth of your daughter! I’m praising God with you and Christiana for this precious gift.

    Blessings,
    Chris

    • nathanwells says:

      Hey Chris, I’ve been meaning to post something on music for some time now, so glad it was timely :) And thank you :) She is so amazing!! What a wonderful and indescribable gift from the Lord!

  2. Gerasimos says:

    “It is a dangerous thing to put tradition above Scripture.” Contrasting “tradition” with “scripture” is an historical and cognitive error. “Scripture” is a subset of “Tradition”, not another set. Read the cognitive error as follows: “It is a dangerous thing to put oral tradition above written tradition.” But, wait, isn’t a lot of written tradition based upon oral tradition? To deny that is to claim ignorance. The cognitive dissonance is thus exposed.

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