Short but explicit 10 Point Survey/Systematic View of musical instruments in worship throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles with Historical Resources

Short but explicit 10 Point Survey/Systematic View of musical instruments in worship throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles

Ever so often I get asked, “Why don’t you believe we should use musical instruments in the worship of God?” and “If Musical Instruments were used in the Old Testament, why are we now not allowed to use them?”

Throughout the history of the church it had been understood that musical instruments were no longer to be done in the worship of God. The first musical instrument was introduced in Christian worship by Pope Vitalian in 667 A.D. and this was due to the change in perspective in the church from the Synagogue model of worship to the Temple model of worship which is the position of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the main reason why the Roman Catholic Church has Incense, Musical Instruments, Vestments, Transubstantiation, etc, because they have adopted the Temple model of Worship. But the New Testament Church is not to be based on the Temple Model. The Temple along with all the sacrifices and all the Temple Rituals are done away with outwardly according to the Book of Hebrews. The reality of these ordinances still remain for us today but we no longer to perform the outward aspects of these sacrifices and rituals.

The New Testament church is based on the model of the Synagogue. It was the weekly gathering of the saints throughout the Old Testament. It was set up by God through Moses in Lev. 23:3 which is the Holy Convocations (Miqra) that God appointed on the weekly bases. Even the Apostles declared that Moses was the one who set up Synagogues in every city in Acts 15:21. So we know that the Synagogue was set up according to divine revelation given to Moses and it was set up from the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

The Synagogue only had the non-sacrificial/rituals of the temple. The Synagogue worship consisted of Prayer, Reading and Hearing the Word of God, Exposition of Scripture, Singing of Psalms without Musical Instruments. In fact to this day Orthodox Jews and Karaite Jew (Non-Rabbinical Jews) do not have musical instruments in worship and the reason at least according to the Karaite Jews is that there is no Temple and No sacrifice. You see the Church is the continuation of the Synagogue of the Old Testament. In James 2:2 James declared that Christian worship assemblies are called Synagogues and we know that the Ecclesia existed in the Old Testament which is testified by Stephens in Acts 7:38, “This is he, that was in the church (Ecclesia) in the wilderness with the Angel (Christ) which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us”.

So what does this have to do with Musical Instruments?

You see Musical Instruments were part of the sacrificial system, 2 Chronicles 29:29-30. They were commanded only by the Levitical Priesthood, 1 Chronicles 15:16. They were put away after the burnt offerings, 2 Chronicles 29:28. No one besides the Levites were able to play the musical instruments. They were part and parcel of the Levitical Sacrifices.

But you might say, “Wait a minute! What about the Psalms that declares us to praise Him with musical instruments?” The Psalms speak to us in Sacrificial Language by using Old Covenant Cultic Symbolism in the same way the Revelation uses Old Covenant Cultic Symbolism for Worship in Heaven. We sing in the Psalms of the hyssop (5 1:7), the altar (43:4), the sack-cloth (69:11), the evening sacrifice (141:2), the goats and bulls (66:15), the cherubim (80:1), and the ark (132:8). No one applies these with a wooden literalism to the church today.

What what about Psalm 150? All the Earth is to praise Him! Given the fact that Psalm 150 incorporates the instrumentation of the temple, the taboret playing and dancing of victory celebrations as well as instruments only used upon secular occasions…; coupled with the exhortation for everything that breathes to praise Yahovah it should be rather obvious that this Psalm was not meant to be used as a literal instruction guide for public worship. Psalm 150 is an exhortation expressed in poetic language which teaches that everyone in heaven and on earth should praise Yahovah with every fiber of his being. Within worship the only instruments allowed were psaltries, harps and cymbols. The timbrels were used during civil celebrations for national deliverance and were accompanied by women dancing.

So just as we no longer to offer up incense in worship we are also no longer to offer up musical instruments in worship. They were directly tied to the Temple and burnt offerings and never played in worship outside of the Temple or without a sacrifice being performed.. How do we know this? Take your time and go through this bullet proof listing of the systematic view of musical instruments according to 1 and 2 Chronicles,

1. The use of musical instruments in the OT worship was a function of the Levites, who presided over the sacrificial system.

1 Chronicles 15:16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

2. The specifically appointed function of these Levites was to minister before the ark of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 16:4-6 And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel: 5 Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals; 6 Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.

1 Chronicles 16:37 So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required:

3. Those appointed to play musical instruments were specifically-named members of the priestly family, who were charged to employ the “instruments of God” in connection with the burnt offerings “according to all that is written in the law of the LORD.”

1 Chronicles 16:39-42 And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place that was at Gibeon, 40 To offer burnt offerings unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel; {morning…: Heb. in the morning, and in the evening} 41 And with them Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever; 42 And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God. And the sons of Jeduthun were porters.

4. Within the order of the priests and Levites there were 4,000 appointed to play musical instruments made by David himself for the purpose of praising God.

1 Chronicles 23:2-5 And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. 3 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. 4 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: 5 Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.

5. In addition to ministering before the ark of the LORD and praising in connection with the burnt offering, some of the priests and Levites were set apart to prophesy with musical instruments.

1 Chronicles 25:1-2 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king.

6. The employment of the instruments was a function of the priests, arrayed in white linen.

2 Chronicles 5:12-13 Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets 13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;

2 Chronicles 7:6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.

7. The use of the musical instruments by the Levites was carefully done according to the prescription of God through His prophets – only Levites, and only the specific instruments appointed by God.

2 Chronicles 29:25-26 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets. 26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.

8. The Levitical function of employing the musical instruments commenced with the offering of the burnt offering.

2 Chronicles 29:27 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 the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.

9. The Levitical function of employing the musical instruments stopped at the completion of the burnt offering.

2 Chronicles 29:28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

10. When the burnt offering was finished, the instruments were put away, but the singing of praises continued in reverent worship to God.

2 Chronicles 29:29-30 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. 30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

In the End it comes down to this, No temple, no sacrifice; no sacrifice, no instruments…

What was the historical view through the church?

On Musical Instruments in the early church,

“The use of singing with instrumental music was not received in the Christian church as it was among the Jews in their infant state, but only the use of plain song” –Justin Martyr

“Leave the pipe to the shepherd, the flute to the men who are in fear of gods and are intent on their idol-worshipping. Such musical instruments must be excluded…” –Clement of Alexandria

“Praise Him with harp, for the tongue is a harp of the Lord; ‘and with the lute, praise Him, understanding the mouth as a lute moved by the Spirit.” –Clement of Alexandria

“But as for us, we make use of one instrument alone: only the Word of peace, by whom we pay homage to God, no longer with ancient harp or trumpet or drum or flute –Clement of Alexandria

“The [theater and the arena] resemble each other also in their ceremony, having the same proces­sion to the scene of their display from temples and altars, and that mournful profusion of incense and blood, with music of pipes and trumpets.” -Tertullian

“One imitates the hoarse, warlike clanging of the trumpet. Another with his breath blowing into a pipe regulates its mournful sounds. …Why should I speak of…those great tragic vocal ravings? Why should I speak of strings set vibrating with noise? Even if these things were not dedicated to idols, they should not be approached and gazed upon by faithful Christians.” -Novatian

“When formerly the people of the circumcision worshipped through symbols and types, it was not unreasonable that they raised hymns to God on psalteries and cithara … we however … upon a living psaltery and an animate cithara and in spiritual songs that we render the hymn. And so more sweetly pleasing to God than any musical instrument would be the symphony of the people of God, by which, in every church of God, with kindred spirit and single disposition, with one mind and unanimity of faith and piety, we raise melody in unison in our psalmody.” –Eusebius of Caesarea

Commentary on Ps. 33:2, “It was only permitted to the Jews, as sacrifices was, for the heaviness and grossness of their souls. God condescended to their weakness, because they were lately drawn off from idols: but now instead of “musical instruments”, we may use our own bodies to praise him withal.” –Chrysostom

“Praise the Lord on the cithara, sing to him on the psaltery of ten strings, etc. The cithara is the practical soul set in motion by the commandments of God; the psaltery is the pure mind set in otion by spiritual knowledge. The musical instruments of the Old Testament are not unsuitable for us if understood spiritually; figuratively the body can be called a cithara and the soul a psaltery, which are likened to musically to the wise man who fittingly employs the limbs of the body and the powers of the soul as strings. Sweetly sings he who sings in the mind, uttering spiritual songs, singing in his heart to God.” Evagrius Ponticus

“Praise the Lord with Harp; sing unto Him with the Psaltery of ten strings, … the name of Christ brought it to pass that harps should be banished out of this place. … Let none turn his heart to instruments …”-Augustine of Hippo

“If God bore with bloodly sacrifices, because of men’s childishness at that time, why should you wonder he bore with music of the harp and a psaltery?” Isidore of Pelusium

“When he ordained in the law, then, concerning these things, was because of their weakness, not their need or their intention” –Theodoret

Wherefore the use of such instruments and other things appropriate to those who are childish is dispensed with in the churches and singing alone has been left over.” –Theodoret

The Council of Laodicea of 367 forbid the use of musical instruments.

The Council of Carthage of 416 addressed the issue and declared, “On the Lord’s Day, let all instruments of music be silenced.”

The first musical instrument was introduced in Christian worship by Pope Vitalian in 667 A.D. and this was due to the change in perspective in the church from the Synagogue model of worship to the Temple model of worship which is the position of the Roman Catholic Church.


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