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Doctrine of Religious Worship: History of Music in the Times of David

November 6, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Ephesians 5:18–19, Colossians 3:16–17


Scripture: Ephesians 5.18-20, Colossians 3.16-17

We are continuing our study of music in Scripture and are approaching what can be considered as a momentous change in the direction of worship.

We have been all the way through the Scripture up to the beginning of the Davidic monarchy

  • We have looked at the history of song from the beginning of recorded time
    • Beginning with Adam and his family
    • Through the age of the patriarchs
  • We have gone thru the days of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Samuel up to David’s anointed
    • We have seen people prophesying
    • We have seen people singing their prophecy
      • they are using instruments to do so
    • We have seen the Spirit of the Lord come upon these men and they prophesied

8 Observations of Music in the OT

During the reign of David, we will see a big change in the usage of music and instruments in worship

To fully understand this change, we need to be clear on where we have been before we move on.

One - Pre-Patriarchal Age

The first mention of music was outside the city of God

  • It was in a city dedicated to man, the son of Cain
    • Enoch is where man gained skill with music
    • Enoch is where music was used (or misused) for their pleasure/ entertainment/ recreation

there is nothing necessarily wrong with pleasure or entertainment or recreation

  • as long as it is for the glory of God
  • this is hardly possible away from the face of God

Two – Patriarchal Age

We saw a few places where music was mentioned

  • but it was never in connection with worship
  • it was in connection with a kind of celebration

Three – Mosaic Age (Exodus)

We saw something take place with regard to music in the early days of Exodus  

  • the Egyptians turned up dead on the seashore
  • there was a great celebration that took place

There was a song that was sung

  • there were musical instruments
  • the men sang, the women sang
  • there was dancing

We looked at whether it was a proper worship service

  • the worship of God had always included the sacrifice of animals and the building of altars
    • we did not see any of these elements
    • we also noted they were on their 3-day trip journey to hold a worship service

Four – Mosaic Age (Wanderings)

We saw other songs during the days of Moses

  • Numbers 21 → the song of the well
  • Exodus 32 → the second song of Moses

Neither of these were worship songs

  • Exodus 32 was more of a warning and a memory device; singing to remember the warnings

Five – Mosaic Age (Communications)

We saw the introduction of two silver trumpets

  • but they were instruments for worship
  • they were for mustering the people
  • they were for communicating with the people

Six – Age of Conquest / Age of the Judges

We saw the song of Deborah in Judges 5

  • Like Exodus15 it was not a formal worship song
  • the inspired prophet of the day sang it in response to a national event – the defeat of the enemies of Israel

but it was not particularly a worship song

Seven – Pre-Davidic Age

Saul prophesied with prophets coming down the hill

  • those prophets had musical instruments

1 Samuel 19, in a similar circumstance

  • those prophets that were prophesying with their music and instruments were under the hand of Samuel the prophet
  • they were likely part of the college of prophets, a kind of seminary where men learned and were trained on how to be prophets of the Lord under the hand of Samuel
    • Part of that training meant that they would learn how to sing and to play instruments

Singing/ prophecy was still under the leadership and the guidance of a prophet of God

Eight – Pre-Exilic Age

There was the use of instruments with the prophecies

Habakkuk utter his prophecy by means of a music

Elijah and calls for a minstrel as part of his prophecy

There was a close connection between certain prophetical activities and music


How did we learn from this?

  • We learned that not all music, not all songs, and not all instruments were necessarily for worship
  • We learned that instruments were most often used for practical purposes, i.e., communication
  • We learned there is not any record of any singing in a formal worship service of a gathered assembly
    1. it had been either civil or private worship
  • We learned every song that was sung in any form of worship was an inspired song led or directed by a prophet
  • We learned that singing/ prophecy was always under the leadership/ guidance of a prophet

Let us understand, even with the exceptions of

  • the singing in the city of Enoch
  • the song of the well, the songs of Job

Even if every other song could have been used in some type of worship

  • the songs were at the behest of or at the leading of the teaching ministry of a prophet of God

Not one time, in the entirety of the history of worship

  • do we see any piece of music being brought in any kind of worship service without a prophet

We never, ever see any song brought outside the involvement of a prophet

Every instance of singing that we have seen so far is referred to as prophecy, or prophesying. (Aside from references above)

The Pattern from our study of music so far

  • We do not have any indication
    1. that there was any uninspired song that was ever sung to the Lord.
  • The only songs that were sung in some form to the Lord
    1. were considered inspired prophecy
    2. were inspired by prophets of the day through the Lord.

This makes sense because the worship of God was something closely guarded by God Himself

  • He told Moses to make sure that everything that they constructed was according to a pattern
    • we are going to see that with David
    • we are going to hear David:
      The Lord pressed this pattern upon me.

The Words of Institution

Having reminded ourselves of the pattern we have seen in Scripture, we now move to the days of David where will see a great change in the worship service

1 Chronicles 28.10-19

We are going to take a look at the expansion of the worship that the Lord Himself instituted through his prophet David (particularly verses 12, 19)

The changes that are about to take place are changes that David presses from the Lord, by His Spirit (v. 19)

  • David did not decide himself to make changes

David calls all the princes, captains, stewards, sons, officers, might men together

  • He gives instructions that regulate how God is to be worshipped at the command of the Spirit
  • He is ensuring that these changes to the worship would remain after his death
    • This is what we call regulated worship

One of momentous change that took place was that the Ark of the Covenant was no longer mobile but becomes stationary.

Before it became stationary (Numbers 4.1-15)

  • there were certain groups of men in the church that had the duty of carrying the Ark of the Covenant and packing up its furnishings.
    • when the ark came to rest, they could rest
    • but when the ark was to be moved
      • they were to pack up the holy things and get them ready
      • the Ark was carried upon their shoulders

In Numbers 4 we are told about the division of labor between the Levites and the sons of Aaron

In 1 Chronicles 15-15 we see a new division of labor

  • there is the account of the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem
  • this is the beginning of the transfer of labors of the Levites
    • from the bearers of the burden of the ark
    • to the bearers of the song before the ark
  • In verses 22 and 27
  • Chenaniah is called the master of the song
  • He is the master of the burden
    • They no longer are carrying the utensils
    • they are now carrying the song.

We see this especially in verse 27 where Chenaniah is so strongly associated with the singers.

  • We see there is a new burden to be born in the days of David.

 A New Burden

The new burden that is to be born is the burden of the service of songs

  • The Levites leave their staves behind
    • they take up songs and instruments at the command of David

We see this moving forward in Chapter 16.7

  • This is part and parcel of 3 particular psalms that we find in the Psalter
    • Psalm 105.1-15, Psalm 96, Psalm 106
  • This is like a medley of 3 Psalms knit together

Here David delivers the first psalm that David

  • the hand of Asaph, and the Levites
  • as a song to be sung in the worship of God.

Do you notice this change?

  • Not only do we now have instruments that are introduced into the worship of God
    • harps, and psalteries, and symbols
  • But we also have songs that are introduced into the worship.
    • and these songs are introduced at the command of David, a prophet of God

How do we know this is part of a worship service?

  • Because we see burnt offerings and alters
  • I Chronicles 15.1, 4, 37

We have already seen that the Lord pressed all these things to David (1 Chronicles 28.12, 19)

  • David did not make this change to the worship service on his own
  • David, being a prophet of the Lord, and hearing the voice of the Lord made these changes at the command of the Lord

This opens up the explosion of music that takes place under David

  • 73 of the psalms are ascribed to David
    • 2 others are attributed to him
  • 11 to the sons of Korah
    • They may/ may not be current with David
  • 2 to Solomon
  • 1 to Ethan
  • Psalm 90 is from Moses, a prophet of God
  • About 48 are orphans having no clear authorship

Out of the 150 Psalms, 86 – 88 of these psalms are attributed to prophets/ seers that wrote in David's day

All the words of all of these songs that we have in our Bibles, written in David's day are inspired.

A New Kind of Worship Service

What have we seen in the days of David?

  • There is a new kind of worship service.

This new kind of worship service has in it things not ever before prescribed for the worship of God.

  • songs
  • musical instruments

Every now and then we might see something pop up where there is a great victory and then a song is sung

  • like the Red Sea event or the event in Judges
  • And there may be some elements of praise in those songs
  • But those are not to be regular events – not like we see established here by David

Now that every time there are sacrifices taking place in the temple of God, every time there is a service

  • there is music going on the Levitical choirs and orchestra

This is indeed a very big change in the worship practice (1 Chronicles 16.37-43)

  • but this change takes place under the hand of the prophet David, at the direction of the Lord

 1 Chronicles 23.1-5

they have a new service and are using instruments that David has made (1 Chronicles 23.26)

  • no more are they carrying the ark
  • instead, they stand every morning and every evening to thank and to praise the Lord with their songs and their instruments.
  • They have a new job. (1 Chronicles 23.30)

And notice that it is David that commands them and sets them to this task 

  • 1 Chronicles 6.31
  • Notice it was David that set them in that work

 1 Chronicles 9.22, 33

Singers were appointed by whom?

  • by David and Samuel
  • Under the hand then of the prophets, David, and Samuel

 1 Chronicles 25.1-7

We find out that there is a Levitical choir and orchestra numbering of 288 men

  • They are put in that charge by David, by Samuel by Haman and by Jeduthun.
  • And Haman and Jeduthun are indeed classed as prophets in this work.

Notice these men are to prophecy with music and instruments just like we saw with the prophets of old

 Interim Conclusion

What have we learned in reading all of this?

  • this change in the days of David was not a change that he himself instituted as a king

He instituted it because the Lord pressed this pattern

  • Not only by David
    • but by Samuel
    • by the seer Haman
    • by the seer Jeduthun

These men also collaborated together and set up this 288 strong choir and orchestra for the worship of God

  • the choir was instructed to play and to sing every morning and every night in the service of the temple going forward

When the porters opened the doors of the temple

  • to make sure that the light was still lit
  • to replenish the oil in the menorah
  • to change out the show bread on the table.

Other men were playing and singing and using the instruments that David had commanded

  • They sung the songs David delivered to them
    • that Haman delivered to them
    • that ASAP delivered to them
    • that Jeduthun delivered to them.

Go through, as you have opportunity, the titles of the Psalms, and recognize these names

  • Haman
  • Jeduthun
  • Asaph

You see, the Scripture is very, very consistent.

  • What we find is a particular body of psalms that were written in and around the time of King David.

And those psalms that were written, were pressed into the service

  • by the authority of the prophet and king David
  • by the authority of the prophet Samuel
  • by the authority of the prophets, Jeduthun, and Asaph, and Haman.

And we find this is entirely consistent with what we have seen to date

  • except that we now have a prolific amount of song and instrumentation.

Whereas before, when it did pop up, in very small and isolated cases it always came up at the behest of a prophet.

  • It always came up because it was a prophet that said this is what we're going to do.
  • The assumption is that this prophet is acting under the authority and vision that the Lord has given to him.

We see the same thing happens here with David.

  • David is indeed a prophet of the Lord, and these other men also are prophets
  • and they would not dare to modify the service of the Lord, the worship of the Lord, except that the Lord should make it clear to them
  • as prophets receiving revelation from the Lord, they put that revelation into practice

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