God is generous to human beings. He blesses us with numerous gifts so that we can do His work. His gifts are also meant to minister to others and ourselves. One of these gifts for our reflection today is the gift of Music. Music plays a vital role in the Church and outside the Church. Choirs and Musical Bands are not the preserve of the Church. Both secular and spiritual institutions employ their services. For instance we have Royals, Choir, Singing Band in our congregation, Hope. Outside the Church, we have an Armed Force’s Band, Police Band etc.
David is well known to have been blessed by God with the gift of music. He used this gift to worship God and to minister to others such as King Saul who was troubled. At the time of David everything was considered to come from God.
WHAT IS MUSIC?
Music is the arrangement of sound in a timely and orderly manner. This can be in the form of singing or singing combined with the playing of an instrument.
Music forms part of our daily existence. Life without music would be boring indeed. The gift of music is a great resource for worship, teaching and motivating people to minister to others and themselves. Thus the benefits derived from music are varied –they are spiritual, physical, emotional and social.
History of Hebrew Music
Temple Music developed with King David. Instruments of Music and organized musical worship can be traced to King David (2 Chron. 7:6; 1 Chron. 23:5).
For instance he saw to the formation of a 4,000 choir in the worship of God. The Levites were used to form this choir (1Chron 15:16). They were dressed and were accompanied by 120 priest trumpeters at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chron 5:12-14; 7:6). Songs sang attracted responses (Psalms 118:1-3; 136). Five years of musical training was a prerequisite to membership of the choir. The choir sang in the morning and evening services. Music played an integral part of the worship life of the people of Israel.
Psalms Used in Worship
1st Day of week – sang Psalms 24 The Earth is the lord’s
2nd day – they sang Psalms 48, Great is the lord and most worthy of praise
3rd Day Psalms 82- God presides in the great assembly
4th Day Psalms 94 – O Lord the God who avenges
5th Day Psalms 81 – sing for joy to God our strength
6th Day Psalms 93 – The Lord reigns
7th Day Psalms 92 – it is good to praise the lord
The real meaning of the headings still not fully known - they could indicate names of musical instruments employed or tunes Selah - a musical interlude, a pause?
MUSIC AS A GIFT FROM GOD
Music is a gift from God for our worship, healing, education and entertainment.
Michelle Wright, a worship leader, explains that Music is a blessing in life that can be shared and used to praise God. For her, it is a vital part of worship. It touches emotions, influences moods brings people together or separated them. All creation according to Old Testament writers can make Music (Isaiah 55:12; Psalms 100:1-2). Music elicits dancing which can be part of the worship. See Miriam and her women in Ex. 15 took their tambourines and danced. David also danced before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14).
Satan also inspires Music because he was once upon time the heavenly Choir master. Music in all its forms must be redeemed for the service of God. Like all God’s beautiful gifts, we must jealously guard Music from abusive uses such as promoting profanity.
THE FUNCTIONS OF MUSIC
Music is a healing balm for the soul. A case in point is David’s Music for Saul (1 Samuel 16). Thus it enhances good spiritual health.
Again, Music enables us to praise God. The Psalms bear eloquent witness to this.
It should be stressed that Music is a powerful vehicle for praising God. Furthermore, Music is good for mental health and happiness. It is good to the ear but care must be taken about the sound level. According to sound engineers, noise for the ear should not be above 90 decibels. Good music is not the same as loud noise. It is true the Bible enjoins us to make a joyful noise to God but that does not mean we should go overboard and damage our ear drums. By all means let us shout for joy but we must do so within acceptable limits.
USING MUSIC IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD
Singing with instruments (Psalms 135:3 ; 147:1; 69:30-31; 147:7; 71:22-23; 144:9). Singing and making melody in your heart to the lord.
Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.
It is good to sing praises to our God, for it is pleasant and praise is beautiful. The Psalmist exclaims, I will sing a new song to you God: on a harp of ten strings. I will sing praises to you.
With the Lute, I will praise You and Your faithfulness, o my God. To you I will sing with the harp, O Holy One of Israel. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to you. And my soul, which you have redeemed. The Psalmist invites us to:
Sing with joy 2 Chronicles 29:30
Make a joyful noise Psalms 66:1, 100:1
Sing to the Lord and shout joyfully to Him (Psalms 95:1).
Sing praise to the Lord in remembrance of His Holy name (Psalms 30:4).
Moses also exclaims “I will sing to the Lord for His Victory. He is my strength and song. He is my God and I will praise” (Exodus 15:1-2).
USING MUSIC TO MINISTER TO OTHERS AND OURSELVES
I will give thanks to you among the Gentiles and sing praises to your name (Samuel 22:50). Give thanks for His goodness and wonderful works to humanity (Psalms 107:8).
God has put a new song in my mouth people will see it, fear and trust in the Lord (Psalms 40:3). The Apostle Paul encourages in Ephesians 5:19 us to be
speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
Another worship writer Gary Harbin also notes: we can sing to God everywhere in Church – Hebrews 2:12; Psalms 149:1
Among unbelievers Romance 15:19a
In jail/prison Acts 16:25
As a witness to unbelievers 2 Samuel 22:50; Psalms 108:3
BENEFITS OF MUSIC IN WORSHIP
Worship songs help us to stay connected to God and with other Christians.
They keep us focused on important things in life because they are based on scripture.
Faith and Christian experience expressed in Music can help us spiritually and emotionally.
They help to educate. Good songs can educate and entertain. For example, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” teaches us the nature of God. Thus worship songs provide us spiritual health and challenges. For example - the hymn, “Rescue the perishing inspires us into missions
They help us to be free of worldly stress. For examples, the chorus, “Praising the Lord, always”.
Let us have a fresh appreciation of the gift of Music and put it to the worship of God. Our Lord also expects us to draw on its benefits and propagate the Gospel. Music is a gift that we can use to praise God, minister to others and then to ourselves. Let us therefore use Music to build our Church and then reach out to the world. Music boosts HOPE.