Ephesians 5:19 ~ Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord
Just like so many things in life from doing your job or learning a new skill, there is a right way and a wrong way. Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, and taught extensively on what not to do and say when praying. Can we also then learn from scripture how to worship? This is part one of a two-part article on worship through music and song.
What music worship is not
In the modern church there are many forms of musical worship, some of which scripture allows room for, but not if we have a wrong view of what we are participating in.
Music worship is not about self-expression. There must be a distinguishment between Christian music in general and songs that we sing to worship God specifically. Writing a song about Christian ideas, or experiences certainly does allow for artistic self-expression, but worship music serves a specific purpose.
Music worship is not about emotional or mental revitalisation. Often, I hear people say something along the lines of, “wow that worship session was great! I really needed that.” Although we can indeed be comforted by laying our burdens at the Lord's feet through faith. Music worship is not about feeling worshipful, whatever that means. Emotional upliftment is not at all the goal. It becomes selfish to sing hoping to get something out of the experience. David sang and danced because He could not contain the reverence for his God when the ark entered Jerusalem. But Jeremiah also worshipped God in song at the bottom of a pit while weeping. Jonah worshipped God in the bowels of a fish. God deserves worship regardless of how we feel.
Worship is not about a specific form or instrument. The wonderful thing about worship is that there are hundreds of forms and combinations of instruments we can use to worship the Lord. Psalm 150 makes that clear. We see that throughout history—the beauty of the high scholastic worship in the Middle Ages. To the rhythmic and energetic dancing, we see in African churches. The Jews themselves loved to dance.
In Spirit and truth
Having said this, it doesn’t mean that are no restrictions. In Ephesians 5:19 we read about what must be at the core of worshipful music when it comes to form and content. We must remember that Jesus in John called the Samaritan woman to worship in Spirit and in truth. Next time we will look at what the bible truthfully says about how to worship through music.
If you want to know more about the theology of music in general then visit our resources section for the material called, The Musician and His Music”