Instruments in Worship

Had a convo with someone today about the use of instruments in worship. He has been going to a Church of Christ, and said that if there was scriptural evidence of instruments being used in worship, then he’d “sure like to see it”.

2 Samuel 6:5 – “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD with all [kinds of] fir wood [instruments], lyres, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.”

1 Chronicles 13:8 – “David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before God with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.”

1 Chronicles 23:5 – “4,000 are to be gatekeepers, and 4,000 are to praise the LORD with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

2 Chronicles 7:6 – “The priests were standing at their stations, as were the Levites with the musical instruments of the LORD, which King David had made to praise the LORD—”for His faithful love endures forever”—when David offered praise with them. Across from them, the priests were blowing trumpets, and all the people were standing.”

2 Chronicles 29:25 – “Hezekiah stationed the Levites in the LORD’s temple with cymbals, harps, and lyres according to the command of David, Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet. For the command was from the LORD through His prophets.”

Psalm 43:4 – “Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the lyre, God, my God.”

Psalm 150:3-5 – “Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with flute and strings. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals.”

When the writers of the New Testament spoke of singing “psalms” (like in Ephesians 5:18-19), to what were they referring? Just general songs that were made up? If so, whey did they make the distinction between “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”? Those are three different words in the Greek – “Psalms/psalmos” – “hymns/hymnos” – “spiritual songs/pneumatikos ode”. Why wouldn’t they have just said, sing to yourself using songs!
Let’s look at “psalmos”.
It means:
1) a striking, twanging
a) of a striking the chords of a musical instrument
b) of a pious song, a psalm
It seems to this amateur student of Biblical Greek that the writer’s use of this word is implicit permission for musical instruments. Either directly by use of “striking, twanging, or striking the chords of a musical instrument” or by use of the Psalms – wherein the permission (some might say command) to use musical instruments is repeatedly given. The first century church would have used the Psalms as their songbook! It’s the only “psalmos” they had!
[this part is from

If that’s NOT accurate…if the New Testament church really didn’t use musical instruments, perhaps they were too poor to afford them and/or they were considered taboo at the time. Also remember: the Jews did worship with instruments, so perhaps it was perceived as part of Jewish culture; think about how many Gentiles were part of the early church. When considering the interpretation of scripture, you always have to take context and culture into account.
Futher reading:

If we should refrain from something just because the NT church didn’t do it, then we should have no part in Sunday School, VBS, Christmas programs, camps, multimedia, etc.
If you play an instrument anyway…well, we’re told in scripture to worship the Lord in everything we do and do it for His glory. Is playing an instrument “to His glory” not worship?

I’d still like some feedback about my last note on prophecy, as well.


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