Elder Don Watson
"I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" [1 Corinthians 14:15] How are we to praise our Savior through song? Let's study the beginning, use, and ending of musical instruments in praising our Lord.
David, around 970 BC, making Solomon his son King over Israel, "gathered together all the princes of Israel with the priests and Levites. Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand. Of which twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the Lord; and six thousand were officers and judges: Moreover, four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments which I made, said David to praise therewith" [1 Chronicles 12:2-5]
Throughout the Psalms, David instructs praise to the Lord with the instruments which he had made.
How were they used? Hezekiah provides detail. "And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priest with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also with the trumpets, and with instruments ordained by David King of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished." [Notice that the musical instruments began playing when the burnt offering began and stopped when the offering was finished.]
"And when they had made an end of offering, the King and all that were present with him bowed themselves and worshipped. Moreover, Hezekiah the King and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the Lord with the words [not instruments - the offering was finished] of David and Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped." [2 Chronicles 29:26-30]
Remember the words of Christ while upon the cross, "It is finished" [John 19:30]. The perfect sacrifice is finished. The perfect offering: "Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God" [Hebrews 19:14]. We have an altar - which is Christ. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" [Hebrews 13:10-14].
The prophet Amos, preaching 785-740 BC, speaking of this better time "though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offering of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols" [Amos 5:22-23]. No burnt offerings, no meat offerings, no peace offering of fat beast, and no instruments for melody with the songs. Not only are we instructed to take those instruments away, the Lord does not hear the melody made by them.
Further, "Woe to them...that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick like David." [Amos 6:1,5] - we are instructed not to sing to instruments or invent new instruments to praise using David to justify their use. If melody is not to be made with instruments, then how?
The Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus; "speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." [Ephesians 5:19] The Lord Himself sang without instruments; "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives." [Matthew 26:30]
God's children should not sit quietly during the song service because we are afraid someone will hear our imperfect singing voice. We are not singing to those around us, but to the Lord. Let us raise our voices, the harps the Lord has made, in singing to Him.
"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]