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

November 13, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Ephesians 5:18–20, 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 are working our way through the time of the Davidic monarchy. So far, we have learned:

  • We learned that not all music, not all songs, and not all instruments were necessarily for worship but sometimes used for practical purposes.
  • We learned there is not any record of any singing in a formal worship service of a gathered assembly before the time of David.
  • 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

Every instance of singing to God that we have seen so far is referred to as prophecy, or prophesying.

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.


Looking through the Chronicles, we saw that David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instituted a new kind of worship pattern – one with song and instruments.

The changes that took place are pressed upon David by the Lord, by His Spirit (1 Chronicles 28.12, 19)

  • David did not decide himself to make changes

A New Burden

We saw there was a new burden given to the Levites – instead of having the burden of carrying the ark, they were now given the burden of carrying the songs.

  • The Levites leave their staves behind
    • they take up songs and instruments at the command of David
    • We saw this in Chapter 16

We noticed the consistency in worship from the days of no music and no instruments until now.

  • 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

A New Kind of Worship Service

We see a new kind of worship service coming forward

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

  • songs
  • musical instruments

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

Notice the Levites prophecy with music and instruments just like we saw with the prophets of old


What have we seen so far?

  • These changes in the days of David were not a change that he himself instituted as a king

He instituted it because the Lord pressed this pattern

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

  • Songs to the Lord, in any type of worship, were directed/ led by prophets
  • The assumption is that the prophets are acting under the authority and vision of the Lord

We see the same thing here with David.

  • David is indeed a prophet of the Lord, and Samuel, Asaph, and Haman are also prophets
  • They would not dare to modify the service of the Lord, except that the Lord should direct them
    • as prophets receiving revelation from the Lord, they put that revelation into practice

A New Guide for Reformation

 2 Samuel 23.1

How do we expect the last words of David to be handled?

How do we expect the words of the Spirit of the Lord to be handled?

  • the writing of Psalms
  • the delivering of Psalms
  • the ordaining of instruments
  • the ordaining of men
  • the setting them apart
  • the modifying of the worship of God
    • to such an extent that now every morning and every evening the Levitical choirs were found in the Temple of the Lord
  • the singing and playing and praising God

According to the commandment of the prophet David

What would we expect going forward?

  • We would expect that the commands set forth would be honored, kept, and obeyed.

But we also expect that in our selfish condition, we would want to modify worship

  • to fit what we think it should be
  • to adapt to what we believe it should be
  • to change to make us comfortable and happy

But when we wake up from these delusions, and we take steps towards reformation…

That in every reformation of the worship from the time of David onwards…

  • that if there was going to be a proper restoration of worship
  • that is this is truly what the Lord has pressed upon His people
    • we would expect to see a return to the same kinds of things being pressed to the people

This is exactly what we see.

Reformation in the days of Hezekiah

2 Chronicles 29.1-15

These are the days of Hezekiah.

After the idolatrous practices of his father Ahaz, we see a great reformation in Israel under Hezekiah

  • he purged the land of idols
  • he re-established and rebuilt the temple of the Lord that had fallen into disrepair
  • he reinstituted the worship
  • It is important to see how Hezekiah reinstituted the worship

verse 25-29

  • Notice the instruments of David
  • Notice the trumpets
  • the priests have hold of those silver trumpets of Numbers 10
  • Those are the trumpets.
  • The instruments of David are the cymbals, the psalteries, and harps that David had commanded to be used.

Verse 30

Hezekiah commands the Levites to sing but without a command to use instruments

What did the Reformation bring in the days of Hezekiah?

  • a return to David's commands
  • a return to David’s ordinances
  • a return to David’s songs
  • a return to David’s instruments

It is very clear what Hezekiah was up to.

  • He was settings things in order ( 35b, 26)

Reformation in the days of Josiah

2 Chronicles 35.15

The reformation of the southern kingdom in the days of the good King Josiah

What happened in the days of good King Josiah?

  • the singers, the sons of Asaph were in their place according to the commandment of David and Asaph and Haman and Jeduthun, the king’s seer
  • the porters waited at every gate that they might not depart from their service for their brethren, the Levites prepared for them.

verse 16: All the service of the Lord was prepared the same day to keep the Passover and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the Lord according to the commandment of King Josiah.

Where did he get this commandment?

  • From David, from Asaph, from Haman, and from Jeduthun.

Reformation in the days of Nehemiah/ Ezra

Ezra 2.41 / Ezra 3.10-11
Nehemiah 7.1 / Nehemiah 10.39 / Nehemiah 11.20-23

In the days of Nehemiah, and in the days of Ezra, we have the return of the exiles

  • what did they do when they came back to Jerusalem?


 Nehemiah 12.44-46

This is fully 500 years after the days of David

 Ezra 3.8-11

When Ezra returned with a company of Israelites, to the land of promise after captivity, what are we seeing?

  • Remember, we have seen in the days of David there is an explosion of music in the worship of God that had not existed before that time
  • that explosion of music comes at the behest of the prophet David
  • at the behest of the other prophets that are with him Asaph, Haman, Jeduthun, and Samuel
  • the choirs and instrument players had set times every day during the worship of God where they were commanded by David, and by Samuel to sing and to praise and to play their instruments.
  • And that at every instance of deformation when those good kings would come in and reform, from those evil days
  • they would set those Levites according to the commandment of David
    • with the songs of David
    • with the songs of Asaph, Haman, Jeduthun

We see things being brought back into their proper order in the days of Hezekiah

When the exiles came back from Babylon, who were in the lead?

  • the prophets and elders
  • the priests in Israel

They set things back in order, according to the commandment of David


It should be noticeably clear that when we sing the Psalms, we are following the commandment of God

When we move into the New Testament

  • We will look at the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3
    • we'll see what songs the Apostle Paul is referring to.
  • We will look at James 5.13
    • James will say “Is anyone among you merry?” Let him “psallo” → let him Psalm
  • We will look at 1 Corinthians 14
    • How is it brethren that when you come together, every one of you hath a psalm
  • We will look at Passover night, the night of the institution of the Lord's Supper
    • where the gospel writers tell us that they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives
    • what hymn was that?

These are all the things we will need to look at to complete our study of the History of Music over the next few weeks.

But up to this point, at every turn in the history of redemption, we have seen a consistent behavior

  • song and music for worship has always been under the hands of the prophets of God.
  • these songs were inspired.

When Moses composed the song at the Red Sea in Exodus 15

  • he did so as a prophet

When Deborah composed the song at the defeat of Sisera in Judges 5

  • she did so as a prophet

When we hear the judgment song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32,

  • he does it as a prophet at the behest of the Lord

Every other song that is incorporated in any kind of teaching, or worship that we see in the scriptures,

  • including the Psalms of David.
  • Including the songs that extend beyond David to around the time of the exile

Every song that is incorporated into any kind of teaching or worship had something in common:

  • All were inspired
  • All were in keeping with that pattern that we had seen in the worship up to that time of David

Although in David, we have a new understanding

  • A new commandment with regard to song in the worship service
  • Yet it was still under the direction of an inspired prophet, under the direction/ leading/ pressing of the Spirit of God
  • Never under the authority of man alone was any song commissioned to be used in worship
This has been kind of a rather long study

We have read a lot of scriptures

  • but the scriptures are to show us the consistency of the scriptures
    • from one area to the next
    • from place to place
    • from time to time
    • from commandment to commandment

So that we see that there is no fumble, there is no misstep, there no mistake with regard to how God wants to be worshipped

  • how God commands that we worship him.

He has not dropped the ball, so to speak

  • He hasn't left it to the doctrines and commandments of men, to the whim of individuals to decide how He ought to be worshipped

If you remember anything from our study of the Providence of God, you must certainly remember:

  • God has indeed superintended all things according to His perfect and unchangeable will
  • God not only superintended the writing in the direction of the hand of His prophets
    • but he also brought back His worship in the days after those prophets, brought them back by competent leaders.

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