The Madness and Ministry of Music

There is a lot that is made of the issue of music. It is one of those subjects that can divide Christians, churches, and preachers. For some, music is a fundamental of the faith; for others it is a preference. For the purpose of this post, I will briefly be discussing Christian/Worship music and not secular music. So, what does the Bible say about the issue of music?

  • We know that music can be used for the good and the uplifting of people – 1 Samuel 16:15-16; Ephesians 5:19 
  • We also know that music can be used for evil and idol worship – Daniel 3:5

The interesting thing to me about Daniel Chapter 3 is that many of the same music instruments used by the psalmist for praising and worshiping God were also used by the wicked musicians for Nebuchadnezzar. During David’s time, it says that they played all manners of instruments (2 Samuel 6:5). So then, maybe it is not so much what is used to make the music, but what music you make with it.

It was during the time of David that music seems to of had its greatest impact in the worshiping of God (though a careful reading of Revelation shows to us that music and worship will be a part of eternity). Today, many Christians choose to join (or leave) a church solely based upon the style of music used during the church service. So then, what does the Bible say about the music that is to be used in such a case? We notice in Ephesians 5:19 three types of songs, or music:

Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

I have always heard (and agreed with, yet not sure who said it first) that a simple explanation of the differences in these three is this:
  • Psalms – Songs that are sung TO God.
  • Hymns – Songs that are sung ABOUT God.
  • Spiritual Songs – Songs that are sung about OUR relationship with God, our Christian testimony, etc.

Another verse that speaks along these same lines is: Colossians 3:16  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. This tells us that music is to be used to teach and admonish (warn or exhort) each other.

This is where we must be careful with music, especially much of the music that is being produced for today. As I have always told our church, I am not against anything new when it comes to music, as long as it is Biblical. It seems to me though that much of what we hear today either promotes false doctrines, or has false motives (glory of man and not God, etc.).

So, should we throw out all new music? My answer is no – remember, Amazing Grace was once a “new” song! Now, I do listen to some “new” worship music – in private! Why in private and not public? That is because I consider them to be spiritual songs which benefit me on a personal level and are beneficial for me in my personal worship of God. But as far as corporate worship (church service), we do better to stick with the Psalms and Hymns, even though we sing very few Psalms these days.  Maybe we should get back to opening the Book of Psalms and singing it instead of reading it?!

I know this can be a touchy and controversial subject amongst Christians, so I am open for discussion, BUT NOT ARGUMENTS. Go to to leave your thoughts. 


John R. E Chastain said...

Good read Bro Gilbert.

Jasmine said...

Very informative and good post. Thank you for the verses as well.

Music is a tough one today, and as a mother I want to be careful what I allow my children to listen to. This gives me a wonderful guideline.

I see your point on private worship with spiritual songs, but I'm still thinking on that one.

Thank you so much.

Sheila Deeth said...

Nice post. Reminds me of learning to sing the psalms in (Catholic) school as a child - I still sing them in my head when reading them.