Monday, March 11, 2013
A Biblical View of Music
I’ve been thinking a lot about music lately, and as I was exploring what the Bible has to say about it, I came across this passage:
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. -- Psalm 33:1-3 (NIV)
I think we can learn just about every basic guideline for Christian music from this passage. It gives us at least eight principles to apply to our music:
1. Sing joyfully
Joy should fill our music, as we rejoice in the Lord, remembering His salvation and blessings. Music can also be used to portray other emotions. Sad songs of lamentation, love songs, war music, and many other types of music are recorded in the Bible.
2. To the Lord
Our goal in music, as in all of life, should be to glorify God. Whether this is with beautiful instrumental pieces, or songs that tell the truths of the Bible, we should always remember the One who gave us music and use it to serve Him.
3. You righteous
We, the saints, are to make music to the Lord. This can be done by composing it, performing it professionally, singing in a church, or many other ways. We can even make music to Him when we are alone with Him.
4. It is fitting for the upright to praise Him
Music that praises God is not just acceptable, but very good for us to make, and something we should not neglect. Few things are more beautiful than churches and lives of saints that are filled with heartfelt songs which exalt our Lord and King.
We can use a variety of instruments to make music, which is elaborated on further in Psalm 150, where it lists all common types of instruments. From harps to electric guitars, from pianos to drums, we have a wide selection of ways to perform music.
6. Sing to Him a new song
In addition to the Psalms and songs in the Bible, we can write our own music, and we can be innovative in how we write it. Traditional and contemporary musical styles are equally capable of being used to write songs of praise, and neither type should be overlooked.
7. Play skillfully
We should seek to be skillful in our musical performances and compositions. From complex symphonic pieces to simple pop songs, from a masterful guitarist to a mom singing her child to sleep, we can never be perfect, but we can strive to do well.
8. And shout for joy
The Bible endorses lively music, the kind that leads to certain kinds of shouting and dancing, the same as it endorses more somber pieces that lead to contemplation. One kind of music is not more spiritual than the other. Each is good in its own way.
Music is one of the most wonderful gifts that God has given us, and it means a lot to me. If music means a lot to you, I hope that these guidelines are helpful to you as you explore the diversity of musical instruments and styles and use them to glorify God.
Do you agree with these guidelines? Can you find any other musical principles in the verses I quoted?