Instrumental music in worship has long been a key issue in Christianity. There have been countless meetings, debates, and arguments over this issue. Churches have divided because half the congregation wants instruments and the other does not. The bible does give some insight on this issue,
so we’re going to look at both sides of the argument, (Old and New Testament) to figure out just what exactly does God want when we worship him. People claim that the Old and New Testaments say different things about how we should worship, so let’s see what they say.
Let’s start with the Old Testament to see how they worshiped. There are many different verses that explain the ways they worshiped, like Psalm 150:3-5, “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” What we see here, is the use of instruments: trumpets, cymbals, and harps. In Isaiah 38:20 we see that they also sang and played instruments in the temple, “The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.” Other verses include 2 Chronicles 29:25-30, 1 Chronicles 15:22, 1 Chronicles 14:15, Psalm 15:4, and 1 Kings 10:12. As a conclusion for the Old Testament they sang, and played stringed instruments.
Now for the New Testament. Two very famous verses come into mind when we think of worship, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16. Both in which say the same thing, sing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”. Other verses include, Hebrews 2:12, Acts 16:25, and 1 Corinthians 14:15. All of these verses have to do with singing, and making melody in our hearts when we sing. Now none of them mention anything about the use of instruments when they sing. But I will return to that thought later.
To get a better background of both Testaments lets look at how they praised God.
- Harp- Isaiah 5:12
- Lyres- 1 Samuel 10:5
- Timbrels- 2 Samuel 6:5
- Horn- 1 Chronicles 15:28
- Trumpet- 1 Chronicles 15:28
- Reed Pipe- 1 Kings 1:40
- Cymbals- 1 Chronicles 15:16
- Sistrums- 2 Samuel 6:5
- Ephesians 5:19- psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
- Colossians 3:16- psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
- Psalms- sacred song or hymn
- Hymns- religious song or poem
- Spiritual Songs- songs with spiritual significance
Let’s take just a moment to explain “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. These words are what’s known as a triadic expression. “Triadic” meaning a group of three, and they are all synonyms of one another. Other examples of triadic expressions in the bible are found in Matthew 22:37, “with all your heart, soul, and mind. Another one is found in Acts 2:22, “Miracles, wonders, and signs.” So basically they all mean a song of some sort.
So the answer to the question, “Should instruments be used in worship?” depends on what Testament you’re looking at. We are living in the new Testament age, so it looks as though instruments are not allowed because there is no mention of them. But that’s not what it says. It does not 100% say that you cannot use instruments in worship. If it did, there would be no arguments or debates about it. All it says, is that we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God, while making melody in our hearts. As long as it is a true worship and you are worshiping from your heart that’s all that matters.