Music is an important part of the kingdom of Yahweh. Following are some Biblical references to Vocal and Instrumental music compiled by Trevor Bowen.
Vocal Praise to God
The primary purpose of this analysis is to separate references to vocal praise from those mentioning musical accompaniment. This first category contains all the references of worship to God, which contained only vocals. If instruments of music were actually used in the following passages, there is no reference to it in the context:
Exodus 15:1-18; Numbers 21:17; Deuteronomy 31:19-32:44; Judges 5:1-12; II Samuel 22:1; II Samuel 22:50; I Kings 4:32; I Chronicles 6:31-33; I Chronicles 9:33; II Chronicles 23:18; II Chronicles 35:15; II Chronicles 35:25; Ezra 2:41, 65, 70; Ezra 7:7, 24; 20:24; Nehemiah 7:1, 44, 67, 73; Nehemiah 10:28, 39; Nehemiah 11:22-23; Nehemiah 13:5, 10; Job 35:10; Isaiah 5:1; Isaiah 12:2, 5; Isaiah 24:14, 16; Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 42:10-11; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 48:20; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 51:3, 11; Isaiah 52:8-9; Jeremiah 20:13; Jeremiah 31:7; Jeremiah 31:12; Jeremiah 33:11; Ezekiel 40:44; Amos 8:3, 10; Jonah 2:9; Zephaniah 3:14, 17; Zechariah 2:10; Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; I Corinthians 14:15; I Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; James 5:13
Although many of the Psalms note accompaniment of musical instruments, many reference singing with no mention of instruments. These references are provided below:
Psalm 7:17; 9:2, 11; 13:6; 18:1, 49; 21:13; 27:6; 28:7; 30:1, 4, 12; 32:7; 34:1; 35:1; 40:3; 42:8; 51:14; 59:16; 61:8; 65:13; 66:2-4; 69:12, 30; 77:6; 89:1; 95:1,2; 96:1, 2; 100:2; 101:1; 104:12, 33; 105:2; 118:14; 119:54; 126:2; 135:3; 138:1, 5; 145:7; 146:2
Instrumental Praise to God
It cannot be denied that instruments of music have been rightfully used to praise the Creator, neither should it be. If God saw fit to authorize mechanical instruments of music, then His wisdom should not be questioned. Likewise, His judgment must not be questioned if He later changed His mind, "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).
Exodus 15:20-21; I Samuel 10:5; II Samuel 6:5, 15, 21; I Kings 10:12; II Kings 12:13; I Chronicles 13:8; I Chronicles 15:16-29; I Chronicles 16:5-9, 23, 42; I Chronicles 23:5; I Chronicles 25:1-7; II Chronicles 5:12-13; II Chronicles 7:6; II Chronicles 9:11; II Chronicles 15:14; II Chronicles 20:19-28; II Chronicles 29:25-30; II Chronicles 30:21; II Chronicles 34:12; Ezra 3:10; Nehemiah 12:8-47; Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 30:29; Isaiah 38:20; Amos 5:23; Amos 6:5; Habakkuk 3:19; Revelation 5:8-9; Revelation 14:2-3; Revelation 15:2-3
Many of the Psalms have ancient subscripts, mentioning how they were to be sung, or played. Many of these titles include references to instruments, such as "string instruments", "flutes", and "harps". Others mention mechanical instruments specifically in the Psalm itself. Psalms with references to musical accompaniment include:
Psalm 4:1; 5:1; 6:1; 8:1; 12:1; 33:2, 3; 43:4; 47:5-7; 49:4; 54:1; 55:1; 57:7-9; 61:1; 67:1,4; 68:4, 25, 32; 71:22-23; 76:1; 81:1-3; 84:1; 87:7; 92:3; 98:1, 4-6; 108:1-3; 137:2-4; 144:9; 147:1, 7; 149:1, 3, 5; 150:3-4
Here are the first passages from both the Vocal and Instrumental categories of Biblical verses that make mention of music being used in the worship and praise of Yahweh.
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, “I will sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously: The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. Yah is my strength and song, He has become my salvation: This is my God, and I will praise him; My father's God, and I will exalt him.”
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances. Miriam answered them, “Sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously: The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Here we have no less esteemed individuals than Moses and Miriam singing and praising Yahweh with voice and instruments. This Scripture passage need not mention that Moses was a prophet of God for the evidence of his being a prophet is extensive in the Bible.
Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh knew face to face...
Moses was not merely a prophet. He was an extraordinary prophet. The Scripture passage informs us that Miriam was a prophetess, for the Bible tells us less about her life. It is significant that the first mention of music being used in the worship of Yahweh is linked to two individuals who were prophets. To prophesy is to act as the spokesman for Yahweh. Words and actions reveal the mind and will of God through the life of those with prophetic anointings. We can therefore conclude that it is Yahweh’s will that mankind utilize music in their worship of Him, and true spiritual music is related to the gift of prophecy.
David also was a prophet to an extraordinary degree, and the most revered King of Israel and Judah. Is it mere coincidence that he also was referred to as “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (II Samuel 23:1)? David wrote more than 70 of the Psalms. Many Christians do not realize that Moses also was a psalmist. He is credited with writing Psalm 90 and some credit Psalm 91 to Moses, while others attribute it to David.
Perhaps it is a sign of the great importance of music in Yahweh’s kingdom that the book of Psalms is found at the very center of the Bible and it has more chapters (150) than any other book of the Bible. In the KJV Bible there are 31,102 verses. This makes the center verses of the Bible Psalm 103:1-2.
A Psalm of David
Bless Yahweh, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless Yahweh, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.
These two verses describe both the appropriate character of mankind’s worship of his Creator, and the content of man’s worship. Every cell, every atom, every fiber of a man’s being, is to give itself wholly to the worship of their Creator. A lifetime is too short to set forth all of the benefits of Yahweh. Not only has He created all things, given to us life, intellect, a body to carry out the thoughts of our souls, and blessed us with salvation, bestowing mercy and kindness upon those not deserving of such things, but He promises us a glorious inheritance as sons in the ages to come.
One of the greatest evidences of the tremendous value and importance Yahweh places upon the righteous employment of music within His kingdom is seen in the extraordinary lengths Satan has gone to in order to debase and corrupt mankind’s use of music. There is no more defiled and debauched area of human society than what is referred to as “the music industry.” From the vile and violent lyrics of ghetto Rap and Hip-Hop music with the similarly immoral lives of those who perform it, to Rock, Country, Punk, Grunge, New Wave, Blues, Jazz, Pop, New Age, R&B, Instrumental, and even Gospel and Contemporary Christian music, there is no genre of music that has escaped Satan’s defilement. Not all music in these genres is defiled, but finding righteous music that is spiritually uplifting and acceptable in Yahweh’s sight in any genre of music (including Gospel and Contemporary Christian) is akin to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Recently, I have felt very much like the man pictured above who is a conceptual artist. He spent days literally looking for a needle in a haystack. My parents became Christians when I was very young, and they kept some secular albums in the home. I remember my dad was particularly fond of Country singer Eddy Arnold. He was referred to as “the yodeling cowboy.” He had a very sonorous voice.
My dad also had some Sons of the Pioneers albums.
My mother liked instrumental music. We had quite a few albums from the 101 Strings Orchestra. I also remember at least one album by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
I enjoyed listening to my parents’ music collection when I was a young child. We had a typical 1960s stereo cabinet that had a phonograph and a radio built into it.
I was born in 1961, so by the early 1970s I reached the age that I became interested in starting my own music collection. My interest coincided with the birth of the Contemporary Christian genre of music. It was referred to as “Jesus Music” by many back in that day. All of my music was of this genre. Among others, I had music by Chuck Girard, The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Honeytree, Michael and Stormie Omartian, David Meece, Chris Christian, Steve Camp, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, and my favorite of all - Keith Green. My introductory years into music spanned the end of the phonograph album era, the brief life of the 8-track tape, and the introduction of the cassette tape.
In my early-twenties to mid-thirties, I considered myself an audiophile. I enjoyed listening to music immensely, and I was interested in the best sound equipment. I would read audiophile magazines, learning the arcane information about the differences in analog versus digital equipment. I would read about the latest and greatest speaker systems, amplifiers, equalizers, and music players. I rarely had the money to spend to purchase high-end equipment, so I contented myself with modestly priced equipment that sounded good to my ears.
Music, like the rest of my life during those years, was tainted by a mixture of the spiritual and the soulish. I had some very profound times of worship before the Father as I listened to Christian music. There was even the occasional experience where Yahweh would speak to me something profound during, or right after, I had spent time in worship before Him. Yet there were also the times when I listened to music simply for its soulish appeal. There was always plenty of music, even in the Contemporary Christian genre, that would fit this bill.
When I surrendered to follow the Lord wherever He would lead me in 1999, I became more serious about the spiritual nature of the music I listened to. For a number of years my life was one unbroken series of intense trials. I was clinging desperately to God, and I regularly sought to encourage myself to stand firm in obedience and faith. Music played a large role as a source of comfort and encouragement. Out went the soulish music. Due to the intensity of the trials in my life, and my absolute dependence upon Yahweh to survive each day, I did not want anything to interfere with my fellowship with Him.
Up until about 2004, music played an important role in my life. It was that year that my wife left me. This was followed about 5 months later by the Father leading me to associate myself with the Macon Rescue Mission with whom I was employed until February 2008. I sold or gave away everything I owned except for my clothes, my Bible, and a few books after my wife left. This began a music-less season in my life. At the rescue mission, I worked exceedingly long hours. There seemed to be no time to stop to listen to music.
After I left the Mission I returned to the ministry of writing. Partially due to an absence of hearing any compelling music that made me want to have a stereo again, and partly due to the fact that I have highly prized the silence which seems so conducive to the process of writing and studying and communion with God, I found myself spending nearly ten years without any significant presence of music in my life. It was only last week when I received a letter from an inmate that I gave consideration to the subject of music.
One of the men in prison who receives the newsletters I send out sent me a letter to inform me that he had been transferred to a different prison. At the end of the letter he did an unusual thing. He wrote me out a list of five songs and pleaded with me to listen to them. He asked if I would write him back and share with him my thoughts on the music. Not wanting to disappoint a man who was showing signs of spiritual life in the midst of a very difficult life experience, I accepted his invitation and listened to the songs. Following is the list that he sent to me.
How Many Kings by Downhere
Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave
Any Song by Casting Crowns
Your Love, Oh Lord by Third Day
He Reigns by The Newsboys
My reaction to this man’s list of songs was pleasant surprise. He chose songs that lifted up Christ and His Father, extolling their excellence, and speaking truth to the listeners. These songs were not the shallow, vapid, pablum that has so come to characterize Christian music in this hour of spiritual apostasy. It was all the more surprising considering the man’s prison record, which is quite lengthy and includes offenses such as drug violations, DUI, theft, forgery, and the extension of his current prison term due to possession of drugs/weapons by a prisoner, and escape. The most recent violation was in 2011, so I am hopeful that this man is experiencing a spiritual awakening at this time.
I spent some time answering this man’s e-mail, thanking him for his thoughtfulness in wanting to bless my life spiritually through these songs. Afterwards I considered the subject further, sensing that the Father was leading me to bring music back into my life at this time. I did not want just any music, however. I want music that will elevate my environment spiritually.
Recently I wrote about purchasing an inexpensive Android tablet computer so that I could use my bank’s mobile app to make deposits since the nearest bank branch is 20 miles away. My Kindle Fire tablet was not compatible with the banking app. I considered what to do with my Kindle Tablet as I did not see any reason at the time to have two tablets. Being an Amazon Prime member, I have access to all the benefits of Prime membership, including Amazon’s Music app and service. After some consideration, I decided to use the Kindle Tablet as my music manager and player. All I would need to do is purchase a small amplifier and some speakers and I would have a dedicated music system.
Because I live in a motorhome I have to keep things as small as possible. This limited my choices regarding a bookshelf sized amplifier, as most amps are big space hogs. I found a perfectly sized unit, and amazingly the manufacturer’s name is “Grace Digital.”
This music system is quite a change from the massive stereo cabinet my parents had in the 1960s. I have it located centrally in my motorhome, and the small 50 watt speakers from Klipsch do a great job of filling the entire motorhome with sound. One feature missing from the Amazon music app is a screen visualizer. I found an excellent one called ProjectM that runs on the Kindle. It was free and is very captivating to watch while listening to music. It responds to the music being played.
As it turned out, cobbling together a music system was the easy part. Finding quality music that is spiritually uplifting is the hard part. Different music is appropriate for various occasions. Because my bed is directly opposite where the Kindle is mounted as my music player, I can see it very well while laying down. It is pleasant to go to sleep listening to some peaceful music, either with vocals or instrumental only. I personally find light/smooth jazz and the New Age genres of music enjoyable.
(Note: New Age is a genre of music often associated with yoga, meditation, and New Age religious practice. The style of music may be described as relaxing and is often chosen by people who have no New Age religious interests who find it suitable for reading or studying. The music itself tends to be peaceful and mellow, and incorporates synthesizers and instruments such as flutes, piano, and acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, nearly all mellow instrumental or vocal music that does not fit into another genre such as jazz or classical music, ends up being labeled “New Age,” when the people producing it and listening to it often have no connection to New Age religion.
There is New Age music that is obviously linked to the religious belief system of the same name. This music may include chants from Native American, Tibetan, or other sources, as well as lyrics from Celtic or other mythologies. This “New Age” religious influence is usually quite obvious and therefore is easily avoidable.)
I thought I had found a musician whose music I could embrace. I listened to a number of his songs and they were all instrumental, very mellow, and some of the song titles even had Biblical names. However, upon further investigation I found that the man was also producing songs that made use of a methodology called Brainwave Entrainment. I won’t go into a detailed description of Brainwave Entrainment here, but I will mention that is it being promoted by Deepak Chopra, one of the foremost promoters of Eastern Mysticism. Mr. Chopra has been a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s programs, and she has herself been one of the foremost promoters of New Age thought among Westerners. Brainwave Entrainment is also embraced by Wiccans, and other occultists, as it promises to alter one’s brainwaves to make an individual susceptible to spiritual experiences such as “lucid dreaming.” After writing this musician who mentions his Christian belief on his website, I did not receive a reply. I ended up deleting his songs which I had added to my music library.
I do have a few albums that feature Scripture songs, and they are some of my favorites. Among them are Sing Unto the Lord - The Psalms of David for Daily Living. This is a four CD set that I purchased cheaply at a thrift store some years ago. If you can find it, I recommend it highly.
Integrity Music also produced an entire series of CDs featuring Scripture songs focused on different themes. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find them in MP3 format and I believe the CDs are no longer available from the original seller. Used copies can be found online of the CDs, but they are often priced exorbitantly.
If a reader knows of other sources of good quality Scripture songs I would like to know about them. I realize that style of music is influenced by personal taste, so it is a bit of a gamble to ask other people to recommend music. I do like professional quality recordings with skillful musicians and talented singers. Whether the music is up-tempo, or easy listening, does not matter so much, for both have their place depending on the situation. I would not want to go to bed listening to something with a driving percussion beat, but it may be appropriate for an exuberant worship session.
I felt like I struck a solid vein of gold last night when after several evenings of searching I came across the Maranatha Instrumental line of music. Much of it is available in MP3 format on Amazon. I had one of these albums, titled Prisms, many years ago, so I was delighted to be reacquainted with it. Other titles from Maranatha Instrumental that fit what I was looking for were:
Best of Praise Strings: Open Our Eyes
Colours in the Night (Yeah for Christian Jazz!)
Instruments of Your Peace
The Colours of Praise 2
The Hidden Passage
Jazz Praise/Light the Night
The following albums are also from other artists and labels.
David Bauer - Quiet Moments of Instrumental Worship
Be Still and Know: Instrumental Songs of Worship
Mark Baldwin - Quiet Reflections - Instrumental Worship Favorites
Philip Keveren - Classical Praise Brass
Philip Keveren - Classical Praise Piano and Trumpet
Katy Kinard - Lullaby Hymns: the Weary Soul
As I acquaint myself with the music on these albums, there will likely be some which I will delete. I try to be sensitive to how a song affects me spiritually. If I discern anything amiss I make use of the delete button. I am sure there must be a number of independent Christian musicians, song writers, and singers out there who are producing spiritually uplifting and beautiful music. I am sure there are those who music has never been offered on Amazon or iTunes, but finding them is like sorting through the proverbial haystack looking for a needle. So I invite readers to share their suggestions.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
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