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Musical Instruments In Worship (2)

Our study began with the first public/corporate worship with an instrument in the days of Moses & the tabernacle: Numbers 10:1-10. The only musical instrument used in the public worship of the tabernacle was the trumpet. The trumpet, including the number of trumpets, was the only authorized use of an instrument in tabernacle worship. Further, notice that the priests were the only persons authorized to use the trumpets (10:8). The exact occasion in which the trumpets were to be used was during the appointed feasts (10:10). It was not until the days of king David, 500 years later, that any other musical instruments were authorized to be added into the public worship.


1 Chronicles 16:1-6. Once the tabernacle was brought into Jerusalem, David began to make changes in the worship. Notice that some Levites were designated to be singers and others players of instruments. In 1 Chronicles 23:25-26 David acknowledges that part of the reason for this was that the Levites no longer had to concern themselves with transporting the tabernacle.

2 Chronicles 29:25-27.

25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the LORD began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. (2 Chronicles 29:25–27 ESV)

The setting for this incident is the days of king Hezekiah when he restored temple worship after years of neglect. It is at this time that we learn that God had commanded David to establish the musical instruments and the Levites who were to play them in the worship. It is interesting that he did not presume to add instruments without authority from God. The text notes: “for the command was from the Lord through His prophets” (2 Chronicles 29:25).

Hezekiah limited the musical instruments to only those divinely authorized by God to David. Note, “And the Levites stood with the musical instruments of David.” Also, notice the mention of the “priests with the trumpets.” Hezekiah realized both the authority of God through Moses for the trumpets and the authority of God through David for the other instruments. Next, as with David, even this great king did not institute the musical instruments on his own accord. He did so because “the command was from the Lord.”

1 Chronicles 28:11-13, 19. Notice here that David was given detailed instructions concerning all the details of building the temple just as Moses had been given all the details in the building of the tabernacle. These details including the designation of Levitical singers and those men specified to play on instruments.

Summary: The use of musical instruments was never a matter of liberty for people to do as they pleased. The Lord not only commanded and placed the instrument in the temple worship, but even designated the specific instruments to be used. There were never any other instruments added into worship throughout the entire OT period.


After the days of David, Israel suffered numerous apostasies. But notice what happened every time a man of God decided bring worship back in line with God’s instructions.

2 Chronicles 23:18 When Jehoida led a restoration after the death of Athalia, he restored the Levitical priests to their proper functions “according to the order of David.”

2 Chronicles 29:25-29 We have already noted how Hezekiah restored the Levites to their proper position in singing and playing instruments “according to the command of David, and of Gad the seer, and Nathan the prophet.”

2 Chronicles 35:4, 5 Again, after an apostasy, Josiah (380 years after David) restores worship according to the command of David.

Ezra 3:10 After the return out of Babylonian captivity, Zerubbabel restored temple worship “according to the ordinance of David.”

Nehemiah 12:24, 35, 45-46 Now 600 years after David, Nehemiah still goes back to the authority of David by the prophets and restored worship according to those commands. Notice the words, “the trumpets and the musical instruments of David the man of God.”

In all of these incidents, every time worship was restored no one ever assumed that they had authority to order worship in any other way than the way God had instructed Moses and David. Even when they came out of Babylon, they did not use the instruments of Babylon, but only the instruments of David.

In the next post we will continue looking at instruments in worship in the Old Testament and start looking at instruments in the New Testament.

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