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Musical Instruments In Worship (3)

We noted in Numbers 10:2 that God actually told Moses how to make the trumpet used for calling assemblies to worship. We already know that trumpets were used in ancient Egypt and therefore Moses would have known how to make one. But God does not tell him to use a trumpet designed after Egypt, but to make it according to God’s pattern. Josephus says, “Moses was the inventor of the form of their trumpet, which was made of silver. Its description is this: in length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute.”

The same was true with David. Note Amos 6:1-6.

1 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, 3 O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? 4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, 6 who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! (Amos 6:1–6 ESV)

Amos mentions David “inventing” musical instruments. These people in the days of Amos had done the same, but not according to God’s command and not for the purpose of worshiping God. Instead, they used the instrument in luxury without caring for their own spiritual condition or that of the nation. The Hebrew word (hashab) means, “to employ the mind in conceiving and devising new artistic productions. An ingenious creative activity that results in new or original artistic devices.” (Brown-Driver-Briggs). The same word is used concerning Bezalel in “making” or “devising” artistic designs in the tabernacle (Ex. 31:3-5; 35:35). King Uzziah “made engines of war invented by skillful men…” (2 Chron. 26:15). The point is not that David invented instruments without the authority of God. We noticed in the last post that God commanded David to make instruments for worship. Further, 1 Chronicles 23:4-5 refers to David speaking about the “musical instruments which I made.” “Made” is a Hebrew word also suggesting that it was created by David by God’s instruction. This is the reason that these instruments became known as “the musical instruments of David.” (2 Chron. 7:6; 29:26; Neh. 12:26). Under the direction of God’s instructions, David devised and crafted these instruments for worship. A few translations render Amos 6:5 differently to avoid suggesting David invented instruments leading to the confusion that a literal rendering gives.

“You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.” (Amos 6:5 NIV 2011)

“Who improvise to the sound of the harp, And like David have composed songs for themselves,” (Amos 6:5 NASB)

“…who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music;” (Amos 6:5 NRSV)

Note Deuteronomy 12:30: “Take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’” Therefore, not only did God authorize the use of the instrument in the OT, not only did He specify who would use the instrument in worship, not only did He specify when and how the instrument was to be used, God also invented the exact design of the instrument to be used in worship.

Now I want to remind you of one thing. In Leviticus 10:1-3, when Nadab and Abihu offered “common” fire, they were destroyed. God specified the kind of fire and they were killed when they did not use it because it was not “holy.” Everything concerning the instrument in the Law of Moses was also specified and when there was apostasy, it was all restored to the exact way that God had originally prescribed it. To do otherwise would have been sin.

In the next post we will look at instruments in the New Testament.