Instrumental Music in the OT

The sermon on this topic is linked here.

It is a topic that many people do not think about. Does the Bible authorize us to use Instruments in our worship to God?

One of the more common defenses used in favor of using Instruments today in worship is that they were used in the Old Testament. And it is absolutely the case that they were used in the Old Testament. In fact, more than just being used, they were specifically authorized by God.

Passages such as Numbers 10:1-10, 1 Chronicles 25, and 2 Chronicles 29:25 show clearly that God had told Moses and then had instructed David to use instruments in worship.

For Moses, the instruments were two trumpets. They were not trumpets like we have today and they were not exclusively used in the worship service at the tabernacle. However, they would be used to call the people to assemble. They were used during feast days to show the joy of the people. They were only used by the sons of Aaron however.

With David, 2 Chronicles 29:25 specifically teaches that God instructed him through the prophets to make the instruments used in the temple worship. Hezekiah in restoring the temple worship to God followed the pattern David set up and that pattern came from God through the prophets.

It is important to note that David did not originate the idea himself. He had God’s approval on it. And when it comes to worshiping God, it is a good idea to get His approval on it because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa 55:8-9) and what we think sounds good or seems good may just be the thing that God says is NO good.

So clearly, the OT had instruments. So the question now to ask is this: Can we use instruments in the NT worship of the church?

The fact is that in the NT, we see no precise command or inference that Musical instruments are to be used in worship. We do see many passages that tell us to “sing” but singing is not the same thing as playing (using) an instrument.

Heb 13:5, 1 cor 14:15, James 5:13, Col 3:16, Eph 5:19 all mention singing but not playing.

It might be said that to sing Psalms implies the use of instruments but it seems that a study of the use of Psalms in the OT temple worship shows that the use of instruments were done 1) during temple worship and 2) by the Levitical priests. This seems to be the case especially  when you consider that the Orthodox Jews still to this day do not use instruments in the synagogue. It also appears that instruments used in any Jewish synagogue is something relatively new to those Jewish congregations. It was not that way for many many centuries.

This is to say that those who speak the language and understand the word “Psalm” do not believe that Instrumental Music is implied by the word at all.

The question we need to answer before “Can we use instruments?” is “Does God tell us to use them?”  We have specific commands in both testaments. In the OT, it is clear that within certain parameters they were to be used in temple worship.  However, today, we do not have a clear command for instruments, but we do have a command to sing.

The concern is not about liking instruments, nor is it about preferences. It is about service to God and offering the worship which HE would find acceptable. Only by following the pattern God gives us, can we be sure that our worship will be acceptable to Him.


About Steven Sarff

If I were to offer any one piece of advice to one wishing to serve God, it would be to put Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:11 into action and let God guide you to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ.

Posted on June 7, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you for clarifying this. I have always felt very uncomfortable in any church service that uses loud acoustics during its service that appeal to the flesh, in my opinion, and does not represent true worship of our God, and Lord Jesus Christ. So sad that most of the churches, in order to attract young people, cater to the flesh and not true worship to God.

    • Thank you for your comment. There is at least one other lesson I will be presenting/blogging in the next few weeks. It sounds like you found this as helpful as I did.

      • A Christian sister and I were discussing this very topic last week; without using all of the scriptures you presented, and she recently left a church because of the fleshy worship service with the loud acoustics. I also have left many for the same reason. Indeed, it was very helpful.

        I look forward to reading your next (and future) entries. Thank you again for sharing.

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