The Music of Worship

The Music of Worship

Pastor Don Carpenter

Building Blocks of Worship / Music; Dance; Responsive Singing / Psalm 95:2–3; 2 Samuel 6:5; Psalm 100:2; Psalm 149:3; Exodus 15:20; Psalm 30:11

In her Dear Abby newspaper column, Abigail Van Buren shares a letter from R. T. Holland of Los Angeles who tells of an article from the medical section of Time magazine. The magazine cited a man who went to a psychiatrist complaining that he was always hearing radio broadcasts.

Thinking to humor him, the psychiatrist asked what he was hearing right then. The man replied that he was hearing Rudy Vallee broadcasting from the Steel Pier in Atlantic City.

After much questioning he discovered that the man worked in a glass bottle factory and had gotten some silica crystals in dental cavities. The combination of the silica, saliva and some bridgework in his mouth had literally transformed him into a walking crystal radio receiver!

The psychiatrist referred the patient to a dentist who gave his teeth a thorough cleaning, filled the cavities and redid the bridgework. As a result, the patient “went off the air,” was able to concentrate, and lived happily ever after.

The Bible says that those who are filled with the Spirit are tuned into the heavenly frequency and carry a song around with them everywhere they go—speaking to themselves in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in their hearts.

John 4:24 KJV

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Through out the better part of this year we have been exploring what it is like to worship God in spirit and in truth. We have learned about the gift of singing and how it is used to honor God and point us back to Him. We discovered that God listens to the soundtrack playing in our heads and is pleased when it is filled with the songs of Zion.  

In the last 6 weeks or so we have been examining different elements of worship. Some of them having to do with attitudes, and some with the practicalities of worship. This morning we are going to do a biblical overview of one of the biggest parts of public worship, the music.  

The subject of Biblical worship music has been a source of much passionate discussion, difference of opinions, and yes, the absolute butchering of correct Bible interpretation while folks try to make the Bible fit their narrow view culturally biased musical taste and call it “conviction”.  

This morning, as I try to do every time I preach, we are going to simply look at what the Bible actually says and use it to give us guidance as to how worship is supposed to sound. We will not be looking at extra biblical “experts” who warn of demon beats that make plants wilt and cows nervous. This morning let us discover together from the Bible, the essential elements of Biblical worship music.

Biblical Worship Music Includes Meaningful Lyrics

Psalm 100:2 KJV

Serve the LORD with gladness: Come before his presence with singing.

Psalm 63:3 KJV

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee.

Psalm 71:23 KJV

My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; And my soul, which thou hast redeemed.

Psalm 107:21 KJV

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, And for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Psalm 40:1–3 KJV

I waited patiently for the LORD; And he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

Ephesians 5:19 KJV

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

Biblical Worship Music Includes Instrumentation

2 Samuel 6:5 KJV

And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

Psalm 150:3–5 KJV

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: Praise him with the psaltery and harp. 

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: Praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 

Praise him upon the loud cymbals: Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Psalm 29:2 KJV

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

These various tones weave together to create an auditory tapestry of beauty consisting of both melody and harmony. The complex and beautiful creation of art by mankind shows that we have been made in the image of God. Therefore God is honored as we pursue creativity, intelligence and excellence in the art of our worship.

Biblical Worship Music Includes Rhythm

Exodus 15:20 KJV

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Psalm 149:3–4 KJV

Let them praise his name in the dance: Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. 

For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: He will beautify the meek with salvation.

Psalm 30:11 KJV

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

Biblical Worship Sounds Like Joy!

Joyful Noise = “raise a shout”, “give a blast”, “cheer”, “shout in triumph”.

Psalm 95:1–3 KJV

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 

For the LORD is a great God, And a great King above all gods.

Psalm 66:1 KJV

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

Psalm 81:1 KJV

Sing aloud unto God our strength: Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.

Psalm 98:4 KJV

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 100:1 KJV

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Several years ago, when my mother was still alive, she had been suffering from congestive heart failure so I went to Ohio to visit her. Because she was so ill, she was suffering from periodic hallucinations. One time she stopped talking, her face lit up and she beamed with one of her light up the room smiles.  

“Do you hear that?” She asked… of course I didn’t hear what she did. She said, “It’s your brother Danny singing the most beautiful hymn”. Soon she realized what was happening, flashed another smile and said, “Well I guess that is private just between me and God then, you don’t get any today.”

Mom knew what it was like to have the joy of the Lord flowing inside and out. Too often we limit expression of worship based upon our narrow taste or culture. Gods word shows us that Biblical worship has meaningful lyrics, beautiful harmony and melody, a rhythm that may move your feet enough to dance, and most of all JOY! Worship is the anthem of grateful sinners once bound for hell who are now on their way to the promised land, with Jesus holding their hand every step of the way. That is what Bible Worship sounds like.

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