Instruments of Music in Worship to God

The Holy Spirit always speaks of the INSTRUMENTS OF DAVID in contrast to the SIGNALLING TRUMPETS OF GOD.


By "Anon"

An Examination of the Subject from the Teaching

of Both the Old and the New Testaments


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The fundamental principle of all true worship or service is, it must be done in obedience to God. Jesus said: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." To change God's appointment or to worship in a way not commanded is to refuse to worship or serve him. "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deut. 4: 2, R. V.) "Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes . . . What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deut. 12: 8-32, R. V.) "Thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God." We are to seek to do what is right in the eyes of God and to do what he commands. neither adding to nor taking from.

The regulative principle is a Presbyterian doctrine which has been supported down through protestatent history and simply followed by the Americal Restoration Movement. Those Experiencing God to become much like Jesus have developd a Post Modern or Post Denominational set of principles. However, those who honor Christ by remaining faithful to His Word always test faith and practice based on the teachings of Jesus or the Apostles.

God gave his people judges until the days of Samuel, the prophet. "His sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel . . . came to Samuel, . . . and said unto him, . . . Make us a king to judge us . . . And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that l should not reign over them." (1 Sam. 8: 3-7.)

To ask a change of God's order, even when perverted by bad men to evil ends, was to reject God as their Ruler and King. God warned them of the evils the kings would bring upon them, but granted their request and permitted them to make the experiment of serving God in a human government, seeking earthly greatness while trying to serve him.

"But were it evident, which it is not, either from this (2 Chron. 29:25) or any other place in the sacred writings, that instruments of music were prescribed by Divine authority under the law, could this be adduced with any semblance of reason that they ought to be used in Christian Worship? No..." (Adam Clark, Commentary, Vol. II, PP. 690-691).

"It was only permitted to the Jews as sacrifice 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 organs, we may use our own bodies to praise him withal." (Chrysostom on Psa. 149, Vol. iii, p. 634).

"The instruments were used as worship to God and to give glory and elat to the earthly kingdom. They were tolerated by God as were many other things during this period, that he did not approve. The establishment of the kingdom itself was an act of rebellion against God" (David Lipscomb, Queries and Answers, pp. 226, 227, and Gospel Advocate, 1899, pp. 376, 377).

He permitted this that they might prove the evil results of supplanting God's order with their own inventions.

This law of God, forbidding the adding to or taking from the commandments of God, is stamped on every page of God's word from Genesis to Revelation.

It demands that every soul loyal to God shall refuse all fellowship with, and take a decided stand against, all efforts to add to or take from the appointments of God.

All that pertained to the kingdom and its earthly greatness is given to us as warning to be avoided, not as example to be followed.

In this double effort God permitted them to introduce, and tolerated, things that would promote earthly grandeur and display while seeking to do the things that he commanded. Two accounts of this experiment are given. One of these is by the prophet Jeremiah, as is generally believed, in the books of Samuel and Kings. Jeremiah was a prophet of God. A prophet was the mouthpiece of God and spoke for him to men. He gives especially the efforts to serve the Lord and the failures through the kings. The other account supposed to have been written by Ezra, the priest gives the things done to exalt and glorify the nation among other nations, and is contained in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. A priest spoke to God for the people. Ezra wrote to excite the national pride, to arouse the people to reestablish the kingdom in its former glory after the return from the captivity of Babylon. Hosea (13: 9-11, R. V.) tells the origin and the end of the experiment: "It is thy destruction, O Israel, that thou art against me, against thy help. Where now is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges, of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?

I have given thee a king in mine anger, and have taken him away

in my wrath." God gave them kings to punish them for desiring to set aside his government;

and when the punishment through the kings drove them away from God instead of drawing them back to him, he took the kings away in his wrath and left them a prey to their enemies, without either an earthly or a heavenly king to defend them.

This whole experiment of a kingdom was a warning to all others not to change the order of God.

To do so must bring ruin. In the history of these kings, as given by Jeremiah, not a word of approval is given of the introduction or use of instrumental music in the regular worship of God; nor is it mentioned with approval by any of the prophets, although all of them, from Isaiah to Malachi, prophesied in the days of the kings, when the instruments were in use. The timbrels and dances by Miriam and the women in their rejoicing over the passage of the Red Sea are mentioned (Ex. 15: 20), when Saul met the minstrels and prophesied (1 Sam. 10:: 5-10), and when David attempted to bring up the ark from the house of Abinadab and Uzzah was slain (2 Sam. 6: 5-7).

It is mentioned as a part of the worship only in the books written by Ezra in his efforts to excite the national pride and to reestablish the kingdom in its earthly glory. When mentioned by him, he is careful always to keep it clear that the use of instruments was ordained by David, as distinct from the things ordained by God for his service. The account of its first establishment by David is given in 1 Chron. 16: 4, 5, R. V.: "He [David] appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to celebrate and to thank and praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph the chief," and others under him. David appointed these. Distinct from these were "Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually, before the ark of the covenant of God." God commanded Moses to make two trumpets to be sounded by the priests. (Num. 10: 2.) "On that day did David first ordain to give thanks unto the Lord, by the hand of Asaph and his brethren." (1 Chron. 16: 7, R. V.) Throughout the chapter the distinction is kept up between the priests with the trumpets appointed by God and the Levites under Asaph appointed by David to perform on the instruments of music. Verse 42, A. V., says, "with them [the priests] Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God; "the Revised Version more correctly says, "with instruments for the songs of God " and instruments invented by David for the songs of God.

Again, in 1 Chron. 25: 1, 2, R. V., it is said: "Moreover David and the captains of the host separated for the service certain 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 them that did the work according to their service was: of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asharelah, the sons of Asaph; under the hand of Asaph, who prophesied after the order of the king [David]." At the consecration of the temple of Solomon, the instruments were used. (2 Chron. 5: 11-14.) The service is described in 2 Chron. 7: 6, R. V.. "And the priests stood, according to their offices; the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord [margin, "for the songs of the Lord"], which David the king had made to give thanks unto the Lord." Solomon "appointed, according to the ordinance of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise, and to minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required." (2 Chron. 8: 14 R. V.) "Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of. the Lord under the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David." (2 Chron. 23: 18, R. V.) In all of these examples the services commanded by God and the instrumental services commanded by David are kept distinct and in contrast.

Hezekiah "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 the commandment was of the Lord by his prophets." (2 Chron. 29: 25, R. V.) While the command to use the instruments was by David, it is said that "the commandment was of the Lord by his prophets;" but what commandment? Clearly not the instrumental service which here as elsewhere is said to be commanded by David; but if this be the correct reading, the feast of the passover, which was now observed, was the great command of God through his prophets. While this is true, there is no doubt that the Lord tolerated the instrumental service as he did the kingdom. He did not approve the kingdom. When they asked it, he told them, "They have rejected me, that I should not reign over them," and warned them of the evil it would bring upon them. The instrumental music was a part of the kingdom and the rejection of God; yet he tolerated it, and it was called "the kingdom of the Lord." (2 Chron. 13: 8.) The Septuagint Version, the one used by Christ, reads: "For by the commandment of the Lord, the order was in the hand of the prophets, and the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets." The Syriac, the Arabic (two of the oldest translations), and the Vulgate agree with this. It certainly does not mean that God commanded the use of the instruments, when it is so often said that David commanded them, in contrast with the things that God commanded.

"And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets . . . And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, and the trumpets, together with . . . instruments of David king of Israel." (2 Chron. 29: 26, 27, R. V.) Josiah observed the passover feast. "And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David." (2 Chron. 35: 15.) Ezra went up to Jerusalem from Babylon to reinstate the kingdom after the captivity. "And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the order of David king of Israel." (Ez.. 3: 10, R. V.) Remember, the priests with the trumpets were ordained by God through Moses; the cymbals and other instruments, by David. Nehemiah gives an account of the dedicatory services held in the days of Zerubbabel. In chapter 12: 24, R. V., he says: "And the chiefs of the Levites . . . to praise and give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward against ward." Verse 36 says: "And his brethren, . . . with the musical instruments of David the man of God." Verse 45 says: "And they kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, and so did the singers and the porters, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son."

These are the places in which instrumental music in the service is mentioned in the Bible, and it is always attributed to David in contrast with the things ordered by God. No service appointed or approved by God is attributed to any man as this is to David. God tolerated it as a part of the kingdom, itself a rebellion against him as a part of the experiment to maintain a kingdom with earthly glory and to serve God at the same time. After David invented the instruments of music, he, in the psalms, exhorted that they, with the dance, should be used to praise God.

In 1 Chron. 22: 5 David gives the spirit that prompted the kingdom and use of instrumental music: "
        David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be built for the Lord
        must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries:
I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death."

This service was introduced to add earthly splendor to the kingdom among the nations, not to obey God. That this earthly splendor and glory were not pleasing to God is clear. Haggai (2: 7-9, R. V.), the prophet, said of the second temple: "I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts . . . The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to the latter temple, though so greatly inferior in earthly splendor to the former. That God condemned David for introducing this service is clear from Amos 6: 1-6, R. V.: "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and to them that are secure in the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come! . . . Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall, that sing idle songs to the sound of the viol; that devise for themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

The invention of instruments of music by David is plainly condemned and placed among sins offensive to God.

Some have strangely contended that this does not condemn the introduction of the instruments by David, but only the ribald and lascivious songs and the fleshly indulgences of these people;

but how could these evil things be said to be like David's invention of instruments if it was approved by God?

Such a comparison would be absurd.

The invention of instruments of music by David is the acknowledged evil to which other things are compared to show that they, too, are sinful. Every time it is said to be ordained or appointed by David, it is condemned by God.

"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar " (Prov. 30: 6)

that is, if a man claims to be a servant of God, yet adds things to the service of God which God did not ordain,

he is held by God to be a liar. "The prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, . . . even that prophet shall die."

To add or teach things as parts of the service of God that he has not commanded is a fearful sin of presumption that brings death. This explains why all the writers are so careful to keep it distinct from things ordained by God, and that it should be understood as an invention and addition of David.

lnstrumental music was brought into the temple service as a part of the effort to build up an earthly kingdom and to give earthly glory and fame to that kingdom. God tolerated it as he did the kingdom, which he warned was rebellion against him-a rejection of him, that he "should not reign over them."

This music came in to give earthly glory to the kingdom and passed away with it.

It is not mentioned in the lengthy history of the kingdom as given in the books of Samuel and Kings; nor is it mentioned by any prophet with approval, although the prophets all lived and wrote during the days of the kings. 

It is mentioned only in the books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, which are taken up largely with genealogical tables and such things as would arouse the national pride of the people and excite them to build again the temple and city of Jerusalem and reinstate the kingdom of Judah after the return from captivity in Babylon. It was tolerated by God, as polygamy, war, slavery, and earthly kingdoms were tolerated (and while tolerated these were not accounted sin to those using them); but It bears the clear marks of the disapproval of God even in the Mosaic dispensation.

Read this defense of polygamy by a Mormon: "Abraham was a polygamist and the friend of God. God knew he was a polygamist when he made him his friend. Jacob had four wives; and their polygamous sons, we are informed, are to be honored by having their names inscribed over the pearly gates of the beautiful city. Suppose that you were to fool St. Peter and get into heaven; how would you feel clasped in the bosom of polygamous Abraham? Do you suppose that you can sufficiently humble yourself to go in at one of those polygamous gates and mingle with the polygamous sons of Jacob? Moses had more than one wife, and yet he was a prophet of God. Just think of a polygamist's leading the people of the Lord! All the judges of Israel and all her chosen kings that were appointed by God-including Saul, David, and Solomon were polygamists, and the descendants of those polygamists were highly honored by the Lord. The prophet Samuel, and even Jesus, our Savior, came through polygamous lineage. The Bible also says that polygamous relations should exist in the last days, when men should be so decimated that their scarcity would cause seven women to take hold of one man and desire to be called by his name to take away their reproach. (Isa. 4: 1.) Are we not informed that David did not sin, except in the case of Uriah, the Hittite? Did not the Lord, through Nathan, the prophet, tell that he (the Lord) had given David Saul's wives? If all these parties could find favor with God, although they were polygamists and God knew it, would it be unscriptural to believe that polygamists might find favor with our Heavenly Father in these days? The Bible does not say that we shall have no more than one wife, and can we get anything out of these instances than that the Bible sanctions polygamy? Of course you will say that Paul says a bishop is to be the husband of one wife but we ask: Does he say that a bishop cannot have more than one wife? Now from these passages of scripture, I ask that the prisoner, the Bible, be convicted and be punished under the laws of Tennessee." (Elder Rich, of the Mormons.)

Who can make a better argument for instrumental music in connection with worship than that, or who can make an argument for instrumental music in worship that does not equally justify polygamy? There is no evidence that Moses had more than one wife at one time; nor are Saul and Solomon anywhere held to be saints. Then Jesus himself tells that polygamy and easy divorce were permitted or tolerated, not approved. Jesus says: "Have ye not read, that he which made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh? So that they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement, and to put her away ? He saith unto them, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it hath not been so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery." (Matt. 19: 4-9, R. V.) Jesus gives the reason God tolerated polygamy; for the same reason he tolerated the kingdom and instrumental music. He gives his reason for these when they established the kingdom. While he tolerated them, he did not impute them as sin.

The great promise of God to man was made to Abraham: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Gen.. 12: 3.) This promise to Abraham was based upon, and coupled with, the requirement that Abraham and his children should obey God. Abraham's faith and fidelity were often tested; and while he showed the weaknesses and infirmities incident to humanity in his failures when temptations came upon him, he maintained his loyalty to God; and in the great tests and trials that came upon him, he was faithful and true to God, and became "the friend of God" and "the father of the faithful."

But Abraham's children were not faithful; they disobeyed the Lord and transgressed his commandments. Out of this transgression grew the covenant made at Sinai. The law of Moses "was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it [the law] was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." (Gal. 3: 19.) This covenant, embracing the law, was not a part of the original promise and covenant; but, owing to the breaking of the original covenant by the children of Abraham, this covenant was added to train and school them and to bring them to the point that they would be prepared for the fulfillment of the original covenant made with Abraham in the coming of the promised seed, in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

This Mosaic law was intended to be only temporary, to last until Christ should come. Jeremiah (31: 31-34) foretold: "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;

which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;

After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

The Mosaic covenant was to last until the promised seed [Christ] should come. He would come and in his person fulfill all the requirements of the law, perfectly live up to its demands; then in his death he would take it out of the way and it should give place to the better covenant based on better promises, the promise that in the seed of Abraham all the nations of the earth should be blessed. The promise in the Mosaic covenant was that the fleshly family of Abraham should inherit the land of Canaan.

Much of the writings of Paul is devoted to proving that this law, intended to bring earthly blessings to the fleshly family of Abraham, had been taken out of the way, had been superseded and swallowed up by the better covenant, based upon the better and eternal promise that all nations should be blessed in the family of Abraham. "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious; . . . which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory . . . For if thatwhich is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." (2 Cor. 3: 6-11.)

One, the Old Testament, is called "the letter;" the other, "the spirit."

Literal law, without the spirit arousing the heart, none could obey; it condemned all. Its laws were written in stones.

The laws of "the ministration of the spirit" are written in the heart; they stir, excite, and direct the heart and the life.

This is why Jesus outlawed "body" worship demanded that He only sought worshipers who worshiped in spirit (mind) and in truth. Paul insisted that "singing" abandon the pagan external melody and the singing be "speaking" the revealed Words of Christ (Spirit) one to another with the "singing" being in the heart or mind.

External melody or instrumental music is legalism based on the literal law. The law, in turn was "added because of transgression." The transgression was musical idolatry at Mount Sinai. Therefore, legalism and idolatry is to try to resurrect Law-based (punishment-based) rituals.)

Much of the letter to the Galatians is taken up in teaching, illustrating, and enforcing the distinction between the two covenants. "A man is not justified by the works of the law [of Moses], but by the faith of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 2: 16.) "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law [of Moses], or by the hearing of faith [in Jesus] ? . . . Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal: 3: 2, 3.)

They had started out under the ministration of the Spirit, but were disposed to turn to the law of Judaism given to the fleshly family of Abraham. Paul then shows the difference in the workings of the law of Moses and that of Christ.

One applies to the fleshly children; the other, to the spiritual children.

One is intended to secure an earthly inheritance; the other, a spiritual and eternal inheritance. "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made." (Verse 19.)

The law of Moses was to continue in force until Christ, the promised seed, should come. "The law was our schoolmaster (The "rod" was the oriental incentive) to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

But after that faith [in Jesus] is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [the law of Moses]" (Verses 24, 25.) In chapter 4 Paul likens those under the law to servants, or slaves; those in Christ, to sons. He speaks of them:

"These are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai [the law of Moses], which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar . . . But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all [Christians]." (Verses 24-26.) " Cast out the bondwoman [the law of Moses] and her son [those under the law of Moses]:

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Revelation 11:8

"Hagar" or slave worship was performed at Mount Sinai when the clergy led the people back into Osiris (under the image of the bull, Apis) worship using dance and instrumental music. Music was introduced in Jerusalem when David sinned by the census and was so fearful of God that he could never return to "inquire of God again."

The Jerusalem above was where John worshiped "in the spirit" on the Lord's day. He was meditating on the Word of God which was "worship in spirit and in truth."

for the son of the bondwoman [those under the law of Moses] shall not be heir with the son of the free woman [those in Christ]. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman [under the law of Moses], but of the free [in Christ]." (Verses 30, 31.)

"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Gal. 5: 4.) To go to the Jewish law and seek justification through obeying it is to turn from Christ and fall from grace.

The use of instrumental music is always justified by appealing to David or the Psalms. However, David was a king replacing the rule of God and under a law which could not be kept and which would destroy Israel. Musical instruments never accompanied "congregational singing" as an act of worship. In fact such worship was outlawed (Numbers 10:7)

Therefore, to drag instruments into the "worship" because it has the power to drag God down or drag the "audience" in by sheep stealing is ceremonial legalism which is condemned by the rest Jesus came to replace the burden of "anxiety created by religious ceremonial."

The book of Hebrews is a contrast between the two covenants, showing the superiority of the latter to the former. "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." (Heb. 10: 9.) "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord." (Verse 16.) "By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us." (Verse 20.) One is law; the other, grace. Going back to the law of Moses is falling from grace. (Gal. 5: 4.) With all of these plain declarations of the taking away the law of Moses and establishing the new covenant, the law of Christ, and with warnings against going back to the old, men claiming to believe God persist in going back to the old law, taken out of the way by the death of Christ, to learn duty, instead of coming to the new. It is singular that with this clear prophecy of Jeremiah and its fulfillment pointed out by the Spirit of God, men should not see this truth. No truth is more fully and clearly taught, illustrated, and enforced in the Bible than this.

The Old Testament stands to the New Testament as an old Constitution of a State stands to a new one. A Constitution may be suited to a people at one period, but, with changed conditions, be unsuited to them in essential features at another period. When the old Constitution is superseded by a new one, all of the old Constitution that is of permanent good is brought over into the new one and such points are added as the changed condition may demand.

The law of Moses was suited to the people when it was given. These conditions changed. God superseded the Mosaic law with the law of Christ. In giving the new law, he brought all of the old law that is of permanent good over into the new law and added such other laws as are good for man. All of the old law that was left out of the new law is condemned by God as no longer good for man. That a practice was in the Jewish law and left out of the Christian service is a more specific condemnation of it than if it had not been in the old law. If in neither, it may have been passed over as indifferent; but being in one and left out of the other shows that it was condemned and rejected by God.

Instrumental music in worship, polygamy, easy divorce, burning incense, and animal sacrifice were all permitted (tolerated) in the Old Testament, but rejected from the New Testament. "Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God; he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men . . . But he answered and said, Every plant which my Heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit." (Matt. 15: 1-14, R. V.) He denounced as hypocrites those who added so harmless a practice as washing the hands as worship, while claiming to be his servants. In this he taught that any addition to his worship, however harmless and good it might seem, is sinful, and those who lead and who follow in this work will fall into the ditch of ruin. Nothing can be added by human hands without sin, and everything not ordained by God must be rooted out of the vineyard of the Lord.

Ps. 87: 7 "As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there " is claimed to be a prophecy of what will be under Christ, and foretells instrumental music will be used; but the Revised Version translates this, "They that sing as well as they that dance shall say, All my fountains are in thee," which would nearer prove that dancing should be in the worship than instrumental music.


It is claimed that "psallo," translated "sing" in the Scriptures, carries with it the idea of instrumental accompaniment. This is not correct. Liddell and Scott's "Standard Greek-English Lexicon" defines it: "'Psallo' to touch, feel, stir, or move by touching." It means the twanging or vibrating of a cord. Because singing is done by the twanging or vibration of the vocal cords, and is the most common form of music,

it came to be applied exclusively to singing. Just as the word "bury." Its original meaning was to cover up with anything. It is so generally applied to burying in the ground that we always understand "to bury" means to bury in the ground, unless a modifying word, such as "water," "clothing," or other substance, is mentioned, in which the thing was buried. "Baptize" and " bury" mean the same thing; but to baptize in water is so common that unless the word is modified by "spirit," "cloud," suffering," or something used to bury or baptize in, all understand, to baptize is to baptize in water.

"Psallo," unless modified by the name of an instrument, always means to sing. "Psallo" is frequently used in the Bible, and is never translated "to sing with an instrument" or "to play the instrument." When it is said that the harp or other instrument was played, the instrument is always named. This is true in all Greek literature. Bagster gives the same definition, and adds: "In the New Testament, to sing praises." Liddell and Scott say: "Late, In New Testament, to sing with instrumental accompaniment."

This means that it was never found so used in Greek literature; but in recent times persons have claimed it was so used in the New Testament just as "baptize" is claimed to mean to pour or sprinkle water upon people.

Sophocles, a native of Greece, and long professor of Greek at Harvard University, published a lexicon, the title-page of which is: "A Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (from B.C. 146 to A.D. 1100). It embraces the period of Jesus and his apostles." He enumerates the Greek writers embraced in, and bearing on, the period. In making a lexicon for that period he consulted all the writers of nearly two thousand years, embracing the New Testament and the Septuagint edition of the Old Testament.

During this period he did not find a single example of "psallo" being used to mean anything else, save to chant, to sing.

He defines "psallo" and its derivatives: "'Psallo' ; to chant, to sing; 'psalmos' psalm; 'psalmodia' psalm singing; 'psalmodas' psalmist; 'psaltarion' psalter, or collection of, songs; 'psaltes' ;a chanter, church singer; 'psaltria' ; chantress; 'psaltos' played upon the psaltery, sung; 'psaltodeo' to sing to the harp.

"Only "psaltos" carries the idea of playing on the instrument.

"Psaltodeo" is composed of two words the "psalm" and the "ode." The ode refers to lyric poetry, or poetry to be sung with the lyre. Hence the two words combined mean to sing to a harp or instrument. This shows "psallo" alone cannot refer to both the voice and the instrument. Had he found "psallo" used in a different sense during this period by an accredited writer, he would have been dishonest not to give this additional meaning. I do not believe an example of a different use of it can be found in the Greek literature of any age of the world.

Webster defines psalm, "'Psalm' is derived from the Latin word that means 'to play on a stringed instrument;'" but in giving the meaning in English no reference is made to the instrument. Webster gives these definitions: ''Psalm' a sacred song; a poetical composition for praise or worship of God. 'Psalmist' a writer or composer of sacred songs. 'psalmistry' the use of psalms in devotion. 'Psalmodic' relating to psalmody. 'Psalmodist' one who sings sacred songs. 'Psalrnodize' to practice psalmody. 'Psalmograph' a writer of psalms. 'Psalmographer' a writer of psalms, or divine songs and hymns 'Psalmography' the act of writing psalms, or sacred songs. 'Psalm singing' the act of singing psalms; psalmody." There is not an allusion to the use of an instrument in any of the forms of the word. Words frequently lose their original meanings. The word "cancer," an eating sore, is derived from "crab," a fish, because it puts out roots like the legs of a crab. "Candidate" is from "candidus" white, pure; "prevent" meant to go before, to lead the way; "edify" meant to build a house (now it means to instruct the mind). Few words retain their original meanings.


If the laws of the Old Testament, sealed by the typical blood of animals, could not be changed, much more is it true that the laws of the New Testament, sealed by the blood of Christ. cannot be added to or taken from. To change an appointment of the New Testament is to turn from the blood of Christ that has sealed the New Testament. "Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood. And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these . . . But now once at the end of the- ages hath he been manifested to put away sin." (Heb. 9:21-26, R. V.)

Here are examples of service in song: Jesus, and the disciples, after eating the Supper, " when they had sung a hymn, . . . went out into the mount of Olives. "(Matt. 26: 30.) In the Philippian jail, Paul and Silas, with hands and feet fast in the stocks, " at midnight . . . sung praises unto God and the prisoners heard them.''

(Acts 16: 25.) "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." The context shows that he meant: I will so sing that those who hear may understand the words sung I Cor. 14: 16: "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" "Be not drunken with wine; . . . but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." (Eph. 5: 18, 19, R. V.) "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." (Col. 3: 16.) These passages from Ephesians and Colossians mean exactly the same. To be filled with the Spirit and to have the word of God dwelling in the heart richly are one and the same thing; to sing and make melody in the heart to the Lord and to sing with grace in the heart to the Lord are one and the same thing, and mean to bring the thoughts and feelings of the heart into harmony with the sentiment sung. It is the sentiment that is sung that constitutes the worship; there is no acceptable worship in music distinct from the sentiment sung. The music of the song is only a means of impressing the sentiment sung more deeply on the hearts of both singer and hearer. What is sung must be the outgrowth of the word of God "dwelling richly" in the heart. It is to be done by speaking that word of God in song. The purpose is to praise God and teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in the heart to the Lord. No performance of an instrument can possibly grow out of the word of God in the heart; an instrument cannot speak that word either to praise God or to teach and admonish one another. The sound of the instrument drowns the words sung and hinders the teaching and admonition required by God.

We give the comments on the passage of a number of commentators of different denominations.

MacKnight (Presbyterian) says:

"Repeat one to another in the seasons of your joy the psalms of David and those hymns and spiritual songs which are dictated to you by the Spirit, singing them, and making melody in your heart by accompanying them with devout affection, a melody pleasing to the Lord."

Conybeare and Howson (Episcopalians)

translate it: "Let your singing be of 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,' and make melody with the music of your heart to the Lord," They add this comment: "Let your songs be not the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns; and their accompaniment not the music of the lyre, but the melody of the heart."

Bloomfeld says:

"They should not express this feeling, as did the heathens, in singing or reciting dissolute songs, but in the use of 'psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,' either by recitation to each other or by singing them singly or in chorus . . . They sung only with the voice."

Dr. Clarke (Methodist) says:

"We can scarcely say what is the exact difference between these three expressions. 'Psalms' may probably mean those of David; 'hymns,' extemporaneous effusions in praise of God, uttered under the influence of the divine Spirit, or a sense of his especial goodness; 'songs,' premeditated and regular compositions;

but in whatever form they were composed, we learn that they were all spiritual, tending to magnify God and edify men. . . . The heart always going with the lips."

Scott (Methodist) says:

They should substitute in place of the loose odes and songs of the Gentiles, or other frivolous conversation, the psalms and hymns of the Scriptures and such spiritual songs as pious men composed . . . In these they 'speak to themselves, attending especially to the affections of the heart.'"

No lexicon, Greek or English, and no commentator of any church, known to me, find any reference to instrumental music in these passages. Then the churches under apostolic teaching doubtless practiced the things commanded here, yet the early churches failed to use any instruments of music in their services. The feeling was so strong against it that instruments were not used in the churches for hundreds of years.

The use of the instrument hinders and destroys the essential purpose of the worship in song. It works an entire change in the song service;

it sooner or later changes it from a service of praise to God and of teaching and admonishing one another in hymns and psalms and spiritual songs

into a musical and artistic entertainment that pleases and cultivates the fleshly and sensuous nature.

A more hurtful change could not he made in the worship than this change in its spirit and purpose.

"A man that hath set at naught Moses' law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy,

who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, arid hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10: 28, 29, R. V.)

To change the appointments of God, sealed with the blood of his Son, and to introduce into his service things not sealed with his blood, is to trample under foot the Son of God, count his blood unholy, and do despite to the Spirit of grace. Only those things sealed with the blood of Christ can be used in his church or in connection with his worship.

All that Jesus commanded is sealed with his blood; nothing else is. Instrumental music is not commanded or required by Christ; so to use it is to turn from his blood and use things not sealed with his blood. This is to count his blood unholy.

So, unless we be led by the Spirit (the Words of Christ). we are none of his. The Spirit wrote his commands in the Bible. To do what the Spirit commands is to be led by the Spirit. To use service not required by the Spirit is to reject the guidance of the Spirit and to be led by man's wisdom; it is to turn from God and his ways to follow the wisdom of man. It is a fearful thing to tamper with the appointments of God.


Jesus Christ and the apostles did not use instruments of music in the service of God, although instruments easily carried about were common in their day. It is not certain the instruments were used in the Jewish worship in the time of Jesus on earth. (See our Notes)

They could not use them when in captivity, and the whole land was now in bondage to the Roman Empire. Their use had been common in the Jewish worship, and was at that time common in heathen worship; they were not used in connection with the worship of God for hundreds of years after Christ and the apostles. Whenever an effort to use them was made, it excited such commotion in the churches that it was reported in history that comes down to us

Hilary (A.D.. 355) says:

"In the songs of Zion, both old and young, men and women, bore a part; their psalmody was the joint act of the whole assembly in unison." Chrysostom says: "It was the ancient custom, as it is still the custom with us, for all to come together and unitedly join in singing. The young and old, rich and poor, male and female bond and free all join in the song." Jerome says: "Go where you will, the plowman at his plow sings his joyful hallelujahs, the busy mower regales himself with his psalms, and the vinedresser is singing one of the psalms of David."

"Thus it is reported that at Alexandria, in A.D. 200, it was the custom (in common feasts - not in church) to accompany the singing with the flute, which practice was forbidden by Clement as too worldly, and the harp was substituted for it." "The general introduction of instrumental music can certainly not be assigned to an earlier date than the fifth and sixth centuries. Even Gregory the Great who, toward the end of the sixth century, added greatly to the existing church music absolutely prohibited the use of instruments." "The first organ is believed to have been used in church service in the thirteenth century. Organs were in use before this in the theaters. They were never regarded with favor in the Eastern church and were vehemently opposed in the Westem churches.

In Scotland no organ is allowed to this day, except in a few Episcopal churches. In the English convocation held A.D. 1562, in Queen Elizabeth's time, for settling the liturgy, the retaining of organs was carried only by a casting vote." "The early reformers, when they came out of Rome, removed them as monuments of idolatry. Luther called the organ an 'ensign of Baal;' Calvin said that instrumental music was not fitter to be adopted into the Christian church than the incense and the candlestick; Knox called the organ a 'kist [chest] of whistles.' The Church of England used them, against a very strong protest, and the English dissenters would not touch them." These extracts are from Strong and McClintock's "Encyclopedia;" article, "Music." John Wesley and Adam Clarke strongly opposed them, and Alexander Campbell refused to preach when one was used. They have come into use as Christians have lost their zeal and devotion and fidelity to the appointments of God, as parties do as they grow numerous, and have sought to be popular and fashionable and have catered to the fleshly and sensuous tastes and feelings of the world. It cannot be otherwise than sinful to use them, as they constitute no part of the worship of God.

It seems there cannot be a doubt but that the use of instrumental music in connection with the worship of God, whether used as a part of the worship or as an attractive accompaniment, is unauthorized by God and violates the oft-repeated prohibition to add nothing to, take nothing from, the commandments of the Lord. It destroys the difference between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the unholy, counts the blood of the Son of God unclean, and tramples under foot the authority of the Son of God. Musical instruments have not been authorized by God or sanctified with the blood of his Son. A Christian loyal and true to the Lord Jesus Christ cannot use them, nor in any way countenance the setting aside the order of God by adding to or taking from his appointments, even in the smallest matters, as washing of hands. While forbearance and love should be exercised in showing the sinfulness of their use, when the church determines to introduce a service not required by God, he who believes it wrong is compelled to refuse in any way to countenance or affiliate with the wrong. To do so is to sin against God and his own conscience and to encourage by example others to violate their consciences and the law of God; it is to lower the standard of regard for the authority of God.

It is generally insisted that the peace of the congregation should not be disturbed by as small a matter as the use of instruments.

Those who claim this force others to fellowship the use of instruments against their conscience or disrupt the church, while acknowledging that they are not required by God.

God plainly requires his children to withdraw from such. (Rom. 16: 17.) The test of a church of Christ is: It recognizes God as the only Lawgiver. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

When it consciously changes the smallest appointment of God, it dethrones God as the only Lawmaker and ceases to be a church of God.

The test of personal discipleship to God is: That in all matters in which God has given order we will do what God commands, adding nothing thereto, taking nothing therefrom, and we will forsake any thing or person that leads us to violate this rule. To add as simple and harmless a thing as the washing the hands before eating, as religious service, destroys discipleship to Christ. (Matt. 15: 5-15.)

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5: 19.) "He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much." (Luke 16: 10, R. V.) Our fidelity to God is tested as easily in little things as in great ones; rather, nothing is little where God's authority is at stake. Witness the sin of our first parents and the fearful results. Paul kept a good conscience in all things; so God honored him and chose him to be the great apostle to the Gentiles.

Sometimes when a part of a church insists on and adopts the wrong, had I not better yield than to create division in the church?

A church that requires disobedience to God to maintain peace in it is already an apostate church; it has rejected God as its only Ruler.

For one to go with a church in a wrong is to encourage them in apostasy. It injures both the church and the person going with the church in the wrong.

While forbearance and love should be exercised in seeking to show them the right and persuading them to do it, it is sinful to so affiliate with them as to encourage and build up a church that is going wrong.

It is a greater sin for those who know it is wrong to go with those in the wrong than for those who think it right, because those who know it is wrong sin against light and knowledge.

The greater sinners in every congregation that departs from God's order in these things are those who know the wrongs, yet remain with and build up the congregations in the practice of the wrongs.

"That servant, which knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." (Luke 12: 47, 48, R. V.)

There can be no doubt that those who cling to the church and build it up, knowing that it is maintaining practices contrary to the word of God, are worse sinners before God than those who introduce them believing they are right. Sometimes persons think that as the Lord tolerated these sins in Israel he will tolerate them under Christ. This would be to subvert the purpose of his examples so as to make what he gave as a warning to be avoided an example to be followed. It would nullify the purpose of the Jewish law. (See I Cor. 10: 1-10.)

Often our lifelong friends and associates are in the church, our children and grandchildren are there, our brothers and sisters. Shall I leave them or remain with them? To leave them is to bear earnest testimony to them for the truth and to warn them there is danger and ruin in departing from the law of God;

to go with them is to affiliate with and build up the wrong and to encourage them in the way that leads to ruin; to depart from the order of God to go with them is to love friends, father, mother, brothers, and sisters more than God.

"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10: 37.) ''If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." These mean that a man must separate from and give up all these to be true to Christ. True love to these friends and ourselves demands the same course. There is no real kindness in going with them in wrong courses and encouraging them in setting aside the law of God; it may gratify the fleshly feelings, but it only helps them and ourselves forward to ruin. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." True love to every creature in the universe is perfected and manifested in doing tile will of God. That is love to God, and love to God is the only true love to every being in the universe of God; and be sure God is not pleased when his children violate his law to preserve standing in and harmony with a church setting aside his order. It will be no alleviation of the torments of hell to us or them to think we encouraged our children and friends in the course of rebellion by going with them. God especially warns: "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to turn aside after a multitude to wrest judgment." (Ex. 23: 2, R. V.)

Some claim that if they protest against it, yet work with it, they are blameless. Pilate protested against the crucifixion of Jesus, yet went with the party that crucified him. Was he guiltless? The protest is the proof of conscious guilt in participating in the wrong.

Then my faith is that it is the duty of those who believe a church sets aside the order of God to Strive to correct that wrong, to be patient and forbearing in it; and if they fail in this, to withdraw and at once go actively to work to form a true church and observe the true service of God. If they quit work because others have gone wrong, they will die and the cause of truth will perish in their midst. Go to work to maintain the truth of God and to induce others to accept it, and God will bless you. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed: to love the Lord thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him: for he is thy life." (Deut. 30: 19, 20, R. V.)

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