Instrumental Music in the Old Testament: Part 2 (Worship)

Instrumental music used in worship of God

When the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, David and the people celebrated and worshiped with instrumental music — as spontaneous worship and not as part of the formal liturgy of the Tabernacle.

(2Sa 6:5 ESV) 5 And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

The first celebration was ended when God struck Uzzah dead. Afterwards, David and the priests consulted the Law as to the proper means of carrying the ark and renewed their celebration. And this time the music was especially loud!

(1Ch 15:16 ESV) 16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

When the ark arrived at Jerusalem, David appointed men to play instruments in worship of God.

(1Ch 16:42 ESV) 42 Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were appointed to the gate.

David further organized the daily worship at the Tabernacle —

(1Ch 23:4-5 ESV) 4 “Twenty-four thousand of these,” David said, “shall have charge of the work in the house of the LORD, 6,000 shall be officers and judges, 5 4,000 gatekeepers, and 4,000 shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.”

God then gave the Spirit to musicians to allow them to prophesy to instrumental music.

(1Ch 25:1-6 ESV) David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. … 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the LORD. … 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.

When Solomon built and then dedicated the Temple, God accepted the Temple and the instrumental music Solomon provided there.

(2Ch 5:13-14 ESV) 3 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

Hezekiah, on his deathbed, prayed to God for extended life, promising to praise God with stringed instruments. God granted his prayer.

(Isa 38:18-20 ESV) 18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness. 19 The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness. 20 The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD.

When Hezekiah restored the worship of God, he renewed the instrumental music of the Temple —

(2Ch 29:26-28 ESV) 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. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

When Josiah again renewed obedience to the Law, his obedience was marked by the restoration of instrumental music —

(2Ch 34:12-13 ESV) 12 And the men did the work faithfully. Over them were set Jahath and Obadiah the Levites, of the sons of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to have oversight. The Levites, all who were skillful with instruments of music, 13 were over the burden-bearers and directed all who did work in every kind of service, and some of the Levites were scribes and officials and gatekeepers.

David wrote several Psalms urging that God be worshiped with instruments, including —

(Psa 81:1-3 ESV) Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.

(Psa 149:2-4 ESV) 2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! 3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

(Psa 150:1-6 ESV) Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Not once is instrumental music in the worship of God condemned. Indeed, it’s prompted by the Spirit! And instrumental music in worship is not limited to the Temple. Prophets worshiped with instruments long before the ark was in Jerusalem, and God was worshiped with instruments in spontaneous, informal worship.

The old argument that New Testament worship rejects the worship of the Temple, such as sacrifices, incense, and instruments, would have to be greatly expanded to include the elements of private and spontaneous worship as well, because instrumental praise of God was hardly limited to the Temple.

If Miriam could worship with tambourines, before there was a Tabernacle or Temple, and if prophets worshipped with instruments away from the Tabernacle, and if David worshipped with instruments apart from the Tabernacle, then instruments as an element of worship were not a mark unique to Temple worship. It’s therefore not as simple as arguing that God rejected the Temple and therefore rejected instrumental worship.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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33 Responses to Instrumental Music in the Old Testament: Part 2 (Worship)

  1. ClydeSymonette says:

    Jay: Excellent!

  2. ClydeSymonette says:

    Jay: Excellent!

  3. Ashley Davis says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog! I have heard the argument that there was a command for people living in the Old Testament to worship God with instrumental music while in the Temple otherwise they would not have worshiped Him with instruments. I am not up to par on all of the commands of the Old Testament. Do you know if there was or was not a command to praise God with instruments while in the Temple? If there is not, it kind of throws the whole argument of "being silent where the Bible is silent" out the door when it comes to instrumental music in today's worship. If God did not command the people to worship Him with instruments in the Old Testament, then the people did it anyways, and God did not disapprove, just based on my simple knowledge. Hope all of that made sense!

  4. HistoryGuy says:

    I am working on a project at the moment and don’t have my normal time allotment. Still, after you made a second post on IM in the OT, I wanted to add to the conversation (lol). Please consider what I say below. I hope all is well with you and your family.

    Probably the most important fact to remember when reading the OT is that the Patriarchal, Mosaic, Davidic (etc) peoples functioned under a theocracy. In that system, instruments were used for multiple events, such as non-worship/secular events, signals, and also private and public worship settings. In all these settings they would certainly praise God, even though the settings would be a bit different and not all of them worship as we commonly call it. Several of the verses that you mention is secular and not an official worship settings. As you noted, some prophets used instruments to prophecy. Thus, this clearly had God’s approval.

    In the OT, there are families of wind, string, and percussion instruments, but only 16-35 specific instruments are used. Today, many think God’s people just used whatever IM they wanted. However, from a thorough study, one notes that IM within God’s accepted realm, were not borrowed from the pagan nations, nor dreamt up. Rather, God directed the formation, shape, and material of IM within his people. I am glad you listed Psalm 81, and even though there is controversy over the timing of it, some see a statue of IM in the time of Joseph, predating the Exodus event. Note, though, the state is from God!

    What is clear is that thousands of years past between Adam and David, and it is noteworthy that music was not included with the formal worship, such as sacrifice/altar, until David’s time. Before the monarchy, there was singing, few instruments, and a primary focus on sacrifice, which was directed by God.

    In another post you connected a lack of IM with mourning, but this is not always true. IM was NOT allowed in Mosaic Tabernacle worship, though a time of celebration. Even though you noted Ex 15 and Miriam’s celebrative song, the lack of IM at the Mosaic Tabernacle is significant since all the elements employed were commanded by God. At the Mosaic tabernacle, many IM were available and even trumpets functioned as a signal & call to worship. However, IM did not make the list for worship. In reality, one cannot just pass over the fact that God did not allow, much less command, IM within his directed formal worship, until the time of David. Strange, even to me.

    In time, the simple Tabernacle worship evolved into the elaborate Temple worship, yet the text says this process was guided by God. Still, not everyone could participate, sing, or play in formal worship. Levites became musicians, priests played trumpets, singers/servants sang. God regulated IM very closely with a “who, what, when, and where.” At the Temple, IM was associated and performed in conjunction with sacrifice. After the sacrifice was finished, the IM stopped. IM was not given a priority like pagans of the time, or many do today.

    Within private worship sometimes IM were used and sometime they were not. Certainly, at feast and war celebrations IM was a big party. However, the people used the same instruments as were used at the Temple [not just any instrument]. The difference is that IM was played by everyone who was able [instead of just Levites.] Whether public and private worship or national celebrations, Israel only used the IM that God instructed and approved. However, with respect to the choice and role of instruments in pagan worship, pagans did as they pleased and directed their own affairs.

    I agree and loudly say that IM in the OT was not condemned… However, it was commanded and heavily regulated, which is a stark contrast when compared to the NT. NT language is not like the OT, which present problems of its own. However, IM, altars, and many other elements used both before and outside the Temple were made part of the Temple system and repealed with the NT. Therefore, I think you are greatly oversimplifying both the use and purpose of IM in the OT as well as the contrast between NC/OC.

  5. Price says:

    @ History Guy…did I understand you to say that IM was commanded to NOT be used in the Tabernacle Worship ?? Could you point me to a scripture which says that it was not allowed? Thanks..

    As mentioned we do see where some form of celebratory worship with IM by Miriam was not criticized by God whereas the worship of the golden calf was. But, if you are correct, God changed His mind about allowing its use in worship once the Tabernacle was developed. However, I do find where it WAS commanded in the Temple worship which would seem rather odd for God to take pleasure in something that he recently angrily forbade. Do you suppose he changed His mind again? Do you suppose He once again changed his mind once more in the N.T. ? But, that He changed His mind once again in regard to their use in Heaven ? Seems rather inconsistent and odd that God wouldn't be able to make up His mind….But then I didn't do seminary so what do I know..

  6. HistoryGuy says:

    I am sorry that I cannot devote the needed time. However, in my previous post, I gave a valid timeline for the introduction of IM in the OT, which covered Miriam, Mosaic Tabernacle, and David/Solomon Temple. IM was introduced late, but still by a command of God. I believe that NT is clear that God removed IM in the NT age. Revelation is symbolic language which draws on the OT Temple elements. I am not sure why you compare/contrast Ex 15/32.

    God is not inconsistent, but Hebrews 10:5, 8 clearly says that God commanded things in the OT of which he was not pleased. At this time, we don’t have to identify what those things were to simply acknowledge the fact that God would command things that did not please him. — I’ll let you wrestle that (lol).

    As for Mosaic Tabernacle worship… Yes, I clearly said that IM was not used in the formal worship of God, until it was commanded to be there at the time of David. I am not aware of any, IM or AC who will dispute that fact. I will present three of many indicators…

    First, the nature of the language in (Ex. 25:40; Num. 10:1-10; 1 Chron. 28:11-12, 19) among other verses is legal genre. One only did what God commanded in those settings because it truly was a regulative language, unlike that of a NT epistle. Second, (2 Chron. 29:25-26; Neh. 12:36) among other verses make it clear that IM was not used in the formal worship of God until the time of David. Some put IM toward the middle and others toward the end of David, but we are sure that Solomon’s Temple had IM. Note again, that IM was used because God commanded IM through the prophets and David as well as "what, when, how, how long, and who" was to use IM (1 Chron. 28:11-12, 19; 2 Chron. 5; 7:6; 29). Thirdly, when faithful men of God sought to restore God approved worship, they looked to the Scriptures, which included IM from the time of David, not Moses (Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:27, 44-47).

    Again, one must consider the theocracy of God in the OT and what setting (secular, etc) IM was being employed before making a general sweeping statement. Even in private devotion, people of God in the OT did not use the IM of the nations. You don’t have to go seminary to love Jesus and study the Bible. Thank you for your investigation.

  7. Jay Guin says:


    It's recorded that God commanded the use of instruments via the prophets.

    (2Ch 29:25 ESV) 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.

    There is no such command in the Law of Moses. And we find no such command with respect to acts of worship performed outside the Tabernacle/Temple, such as Miriam's spontaneous worship with tambourines, David's worship as the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem, or the use of instruments by prophets while prophesying.

  8. Jay Guin says:



    I don't follow you at all when you say,

    "Today, many think God's people just used whatever IM they wanted. However, from a thorough study, one notes that IM within God's accepted realm, were not borrowed from the pagan nations, nor dreamt up. Rather, God directed the formation, shape, and material of IM within his people. I am glad you listed Psalm 81, and even though there is controversy over the timing of it, some see a statu[t]e of IM in the time of Joseph, predating the Exodus event. Note, though, the state is from God!"

    How on earth do we know that the music was not borrowed from the surrounding nations? Did they not use tambourines and kitharas?

    I agree that David and the prophets gave very particular instructions about how the Tabernacle/Temple service was to be conducted, but we have no idea where they got their tunes or musical styles. God specified the instruments, but not the music played.

    And there's no indication that God gave musical instruction in other settings.

    You seem to be reading a LOT into the text.


    Psa 81 is preceded by a note that it was composed by Asaph, a contemporary of David. One what basis would someone argue that this psalm dates back to Joseph? And why would that matter?


    I'll offer my theory for why God had David add IM to the Tabernacle in a future post.


    You say, "Israel only used the IM that God instructed and approved," but I find no evidence of this other than in David's addition of IM to the Tabernacle. There's no evidence that God regulated IM in any other setting.


    As I've said before, I don't think the Christian assembly is built on the Temple, by being designed to be either like or unlike the Temple. It is its own thing, and closer to the Passover than the Tabernacle or Temple. We Protestants don't "go to church" to offer a sacrifice. Therefore, the Temple is neither prototype nor antitype of the assembly.)

  9. Christian says:

    If IM was so important to obstain from in the NT, my question is why didn't the Holy Spirit direct the apostles to say something about it? If it is that important, why didn't Jesus say anything about it? One would think that there would be some sentence in the NT somewhere that would say something as simple as "P.S. obstain from instrumental music in the assembly." I'm still in an ongoing study on this issue, but I'm trying to understand why the Holy Spirit would direct the apostles to list out specific sins that could make someone lose their soul and yet never mention IM!? And before anyone tries to show me 2 John 9-11…one word…context. Also, I'm trying to understand how conservatives can be so sure that Paul in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 is talking specifically about the assembly…it seems to me he is talking about all the time, whether inside or outside corporate worship. Also, if "For freedom Christ has made us free, so therefore do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage," (Gal. 5:1) how far does freedom go? If we are free from sin, and IM is not listed as sin, why do we insist that it is based on biblical authority whether or not we can use instruments when our authority, Jesus, set us free to love, edify, encourage and build up our brothers and sisters? Jesus seems to say it best in Matt. 23:24 "(referring to the Pharisees)…you blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" Do we do this with the IM controversy? Just some questions I have.

  10. Dan says:

    Thank you, Jay. Two summers ago I engaged in a written debate on this subject using only one positive argument for the use of the instrument. It is a very limited argument and does not in any way encompass a full understanding of the subject. My one positive argument on the subject was that since Paul authorizes the use of the psalms in praise and since the psalms clearly authorize the use of instruments as worship (not just in addition to worship) then Christians, both individually and collectively, are also authorized to use instruments in worship. I believe this simple syllogism will hold water.

    For me, the reason to study this subject is not to institute changes in the churches of Christ, but to come to a better understanding of how to study the Bible and what God is pleased with. It discourages me to see others whose central concern seems to be trying to avoid making any admission that the coC from the 20th century contained any short comings.

    You have tremendous patience. God bless. Dan

  11. Price says:

    @ History Guy…Thanks for the response. Undoubtedly you have looked at this subject for some time…However, it is apparent that your conclusions about the strict regulation of the type and design of the instruments and the restriction from using "pagan" instruments is new information that I have previously not heard anyone put forth…..

    Regarding the passage in Hebrews 10 you referred to…. it seems pretty clear that the passage is referring to the superiority of Christ's sacrifice versus the temporary sacrifices and offerings commanded by the Law of Moses.. I have a REAL hard time trying to tie that to the use of instruments that He commanded to be used in worship to Himself. Seriously, it is incomprehensible to apply the comparison the author of Hebrews is making between animal sacrifice and the sacrifice of Christ to anything having to do with instrumental music..It's not related whatsoever…not the least little bit…

    Lastly, whether the use of instruments in Revelation is symbolic or not I don't know. Heaven is supposed to be something that no one has ever been able to imagine so maybe it is, maybe it isn't…One thing for sure, the use of the instruments was something that God was quite pleased with…I find it curious that some would suggest that worshiping God today with instruments would prevent them from being able to see the use of them in Heaven…Seems odd doesn't it…

  12. Price says:

    Keep on digging Christian…You may find that a fine and wonderful tradition has been severely mis-characterized and unfortunately evolved from an element of praise to an element of condemnation…

  13. Theophilus Dr says:

    Some people like to talk about the "deafening roar of silence" in making the argument that the NT doesn't authorize the use of instrumental music in the assembly. If the NT is silent, then it isn't authorized and we have to be silent and not allow them.

    There are two ends of this silence stick, you know.

    Instead of concocting this house of cards argument about the pagans did this or that, etc., why not admit that the NT is also silent on condemning the use of instruments. Then, why don't these same people follow their own "hermeneutic" and be likewise silent. What? Does the same not apply to them? If Jesus or the apostles said to not use instruments, then speak where the Bible speaks, and quote the passage. Otherwise why don't these people provide the "deafening roar of silence" themselves, instead of the deafening roar of complaining.

    Where is the NT authorization to form a temple worship atmosphere inside a building made with hands inside a traditionally fixed time frame on Sunday morning? If the NT is silent about that, what right does anyone have to try to make up some rules – do not touch, do not handle (that instrument). "Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Gal 3:1-3

    Maybe we are so busy filling in the silence of the NT in order to condemn the actions of other Christians that we don't have time to keep reading down to Gal 2:5: "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

    Miracles? What miracles?

  14. HistoryGuy says:

    In quoting Heb. 10:8, I specifically said we don't have to identify what was commanded [or why] to simply acknowledge the fact that God commanded things that did not please him. I wanted to stress that point in response to your question about God. It was not an attempt to discuss NC/OC typology. Please give some thought about God commanding things that did not please him. I’ll leave the rest alone, my friend.

  15. HistoryGuy says:

    My briefness caused confusion, I am sorry. If I don’t respond as fast as normal, please know that I am just working. Imagine making a big chronological timeline and simply marking "what, when, why" God spoke about IM in the OT. When you view that data at once, the picture is quite amazing. We will talk more in time (lol).

    Regarding B – I was not saying the Psalm dates to Joseph’s time, but rather that it is possible that the statute (v5) dates to Joseph's time and the Israelite captivity in Egypt. [IF] that is the case, then God gave instructions about IM before the Exodus event, as opposed to a [first time] soon after the event. It also helps explain some latter passages and traditions carried on from the time of the Exodus event, and why Israel had certain instruments, but not others, which is a big study. After all, Egypt had many instruments and the Israelites were free to take what they wanted, indeed they did, when they left Egypt.

    For example: Looking past the fact that women in Israel history normally played the tambourine… Where did Miriam (an inspired prophetess of God), and the other women get the tambourines (Ex. 15:20-21)? Why did they even have tambourines? Why tambourines as opposed to other compact instruments that were available to them? They had just left Egypt in the escape of their life, you know. Even the Hebrew dance was unique, and is a great study within itself. So, these are the questions that I enjoy examining. The issues are deep, but extremely fun because the OT positively [not through silence] speaks about these events.

    I'll reply about [A] in a little while. In the meantime, yes, the Israelites did not use the instruments of their neighbors, with the exception of two instruments. Several key words and passages indicate the Israelites invented-modified many of their own instruments. In some cases God told them what/how to make certain instruments. The OT even clearly records that certain instruments were used for Temple, psalm singing, feasts, war, private worship, and national celebrations. Most people have just never bothered to study it… I mean, it is not the most important topic (lol). Again, I'll try to say more in a while. Have a great day, Jay.

  16. aBasnar says:

    Dear Jay

    You wrote

    As I've said before, I don't think the Christian assembly is built on the Temple, by being designed to be either like or unlike the Temple. It is its own thing, and closer to the Passover than the Tabernacle or Temple. We Protestants don't "go to church" to offer a sacrifice. Therefore, the Temple is neither prototype nor antitype of the assembly.)

    With this I STRONGLY disagree. Consider the following (well known) texts:

    1Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
    1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
    (the context here is the church not the individual)

    2Co 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
    Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
    Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
    Eph 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    1Pe 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
    1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    Heb 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

    And not one single verse from this list can be understood without having understood the concept of the OT-Temple/tabernacle. Therefore grasping the types and antitypes is crucial for undetrstanding the church and – a s a side issue – for understanding the place of Instrumental music. So far you failed to see this.


  17. Brad Adcock says:

    Alexander, this is one of the few places I diverge from you, friend. I would rather say that not one single verse you quoted can be understood without having understood the concept of "a" temple/tabernacle – not necessarily just "the" temple. Pagans and gentiles had there own temples, devoted to their idols. Most of the verses you quote are written to an audience that is majority Gentile – not Jewish. This is not to say we as Christians should not have a clear understanding of the OT Temple/tabernacle and its importance as a precursor to the New Covenant; however, without having heard one word of the Mosaic Law or even a rudimentary understanding of the "Jewish" temple, even the pagans could understand the concept of "a" temple – a place devoted to the worship of deity (or falsely assumed deity in the case of pagans). I may be wrong (it's happened before) but it seems to my small mind the emphases is on the ownership more than anything else: we are GOD'S temple. Paul is contrasting the lost state from which they've come, the wicked "worship" they were once involved with, the lack of an identity together outside Christ – all these with what is expected of them now that they have put on Christ and are His. Please (anyone) correct me if I need it; I welcome the instruction, and as always, I continue to enjoy the back and forth.

  18. Theophilus Dr says:

    Peter says that we are "living stones." We need to understand the background of "tabernacle and temple" and the importance that God placed on them to understand the spiritual concept that is carried forward. Romans 12:1-2 talks about 'living sacrifices" and "spiritual service" or worship. Steven really angered the Jews in his sermon to the Sanhedrin, when he said the following concerning Solomon's temple, which the Jews were so proud of.

    Acts 7:48-50 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’"

    Understanding the physical temple is needed to understand the spiritual temple that Paul and Peter are talking about. Reading my own views into what Jay said (always dangerous) MISS-using the physical temple as a model of attending a physical building and doing certain things in an exactly correct way (and don't run past 11:50 or else there'll be a line at the restaurant), means we've pleased God and we can act our normal fleshly selves on Monday is a problem.

    I may be wrong, but it seems like Jay and Alexander are just approaching the use of the temple from a different perspective.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It is important to understand that there was a fork in the road at Moung Sinai: the Israelites brought their abominations from Israel including the Levites (cursed by Jacob) who were an old moloch worship priesthood in Egypt. That is why Jerusalem was the site of infant burning before and after 2 Chronicles 29 where we understand that David commanded the instruments when there were used in connection with the burnt offering of the goats for Israel long lost to the old musical idolatry at Mount Sinai.

    When the elders fired God and demanded a king like the nations God finally abandoned them to the worship of the starry host to which they had been sentenced at Mount Sinai (Acts 7 etal)

    Christ was the Spirit in the prophets (only) and He repudiated the Civil-Military-Priestly complex. He warned about the Lying Pen of the Scribes of the not-commanded Monarchy and said that God had NOT commanded sacrifices or burnt offerings.

    The Worship of the Starry host at Jerusalem where God authorized David a tent BUT Solomon built Him a house, BUT God is not worshipped in houses built by human hands.

    Parallel with the Tabernacle (no instruments in the Tabernacle or Law of Moses other than the trumpets for signalling only, Christ (the Rock) ordained the Qahal, synagogue or Church of Christ (the Rock) in the wilderness. Vocal or instrumental rejoicing was outlawed for the Godly not-Levi people as a school of the Word. That never changed.

    All proof texts from the Monarchy period are from God's abandonment of them to return to Babylon and Assyria.

  20. Norton says:

    The Temple was the dwelling place of God. Today God dwells in His people or the Church. That is about as far as the Temple/Church analogy goes. The Regulative Principle of Worship is based on the Temple/Church analogy in that we are in the presence of God in the church assembly the same way the priests were, in the Temple; therefore the same rules apply. But I ask, if God dwells in us, do we go in and out of His presense when we go in and out of the church assemblly? No, the Temple/Church analogy falls apart pretty fast.

  21. aBasnar says:

    … having understood the concept of "a" temple/tabernacle – not necessarily just "the" temple. Pagans and gentiles had there own temples, devoted to their idols. Most of the verses you quote are written to an audience that is majority Gentile …

    Brad, read these words again iun the light of 2Co 6:16. "What agreement has the temple of God with idols?" Is it really imaginable, that God wants us to draw our conclusions from Paga idolatry?

    But aside from that: Each of the letters quoted above was written to churches that started with mission work in the synagogue. In fact, some or even most of the leaders seem to have had Jewish background. Sostenes, the Co-auther or 1st Corinthians was a leader in the synagogue; Krispus, another Jewish leader was baptized in Corinth as well.

    Last not least: the scriptures they read and were instructed to read diligently were the Old Testament. Take a look at the many references to OT types, prophecies and parallels in all of Paul's letters. And – by the way – they did not have to find out all of this by themselves. The apostles spend weeks, months and sometimes years teaching and laying the foundation.

    I think it is rather us who have a problem with the OT. Why? Because we have our roots in Protetsantism and a salvation theory that painted the Law as black as possible in order to make the Grace of God shine as brightly as possible. Ever so often I hear that brothers and sisters have their difficulties to understand the OT, and therefore have only a rudementary knowledge of it. I even heard of a church of Christ where the preachers refuse to preach on OT texts. Actually this comes close to the old Gnostic heresy that says the God of the OT is not the Father of Jesus Christ. By this I don't mean that anyone of us would go really that far.

    Having spent some years evaluating the Plymouth Brethren (I still highly respect them) I first learned from them the value of the typlogical understanding of the OT. While I back then thought, that's a peculiarity of this movement, I was surprized – no shocked! – when for the first time I read the letter of Barnabas (around 70 or 80 AD). There I found the exact same way of interpreting the scriptures. In fact, as I found out, this was the general understanding of the whole church of Christ back then. And then, going back to Hebrews and other NT-passages (e.g., 1st Peter) I had to admit that this is the way the Apostles themselves taught the OT.

    Therefore I concluded that I had to change my way of reading the OT, which was against my Western mindset, of course. But in the end it made so much more sense …


  22. Anonymous says:

    When God turned the Israelites over to worship the Starry host, the gods they worshipped represented the starry hosts. Both Amos and Stephen in Acts 7 named the names of the gods they worshipped. This was turned over to the tribe of Levi. Jacob had cursed Levi and warned us not to attend their assemblies or to enter into covenant with them. As a shadow, the word "skia" means a totally erroneous system.

    Gen. 49:6 O my soul,
    come not thou into their secret;
    unto their assembly,
    mine honour,
    be not thou united:
    for in their anger they slew a man,
    and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.

    The Levi tribe was "God's instrument of wrath."

    Acts 7:46 Who found FAVOR [grace] before God, and desired to find a TABERNACLE for the God of Jacob.

    Acts 7:47 But Solomon built him an HOUSE.

    Acts 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet.

    Acts 7:49 Heaven is my THRONE, and earth is my footstool: what HOUSE will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?

    When Solomon dedicated the Temple which was the National Shrine and not a house of worship: no speaker, singer or instrument player could go INSIDE of any holy place without being executed.

  23. Brad Adcock says:

    Alexander, thanks for your reply; but you misunderstand what I'm saying. I replied because you earlier made the statement: "And not one single verse from this list can be understood without having understood the concept of the OT-Temple/tabernacle."

    I'm NOT saying that the worship of the temple of God has absolutely ANYTHING to do with the worship of idols. Far from it! The PRACTICES they had learned in worshipping at these pagan places had no place and still have no place in the lives and actions of Christians.

    I'm simply saying that the CONCEPT of any temple is exactly the same – a building designed specifically for the worship of a deity. In the case of the pagans, it was of course not a deity at all, but an idol. Yet, the building's base purpose is the same. Except Paul (and others) are now telling these former idol worshippers that they are now as Christians to consider THEMSELVES rather than a physical building to be the temple (1 Cor 3:16, 17) – whether or not they have already been instructed concerning the OT temple, they understand the reverence one is to have for a temple; a fact reinforced when Paul tells them that if any were foolish enough to attempt to destroy GOD'S temple, they will themselves be destroyed. Also, as GOD'S temple (emphasis on the ownership and the object of the worship that should take place in this new temple God has created), they are to live and act in a way that accords with His righteousness and holiness (2 Cor 6:16; 1 Pt 2:4,5). Now, you cannot accomplish this second part without understanding the concept of the OT-Temple/tablernacle. In this we agree; I was simply trying to point out how Paul was taking a concept even the gentiles would have some rudimentary, very basic understanding of ("a" temple) and showing them the better way in God through Christ ("HIS" temple) – one might say in a similar way as he did on Mars Hill.

    I didn't mean to downgrade the OT's value at all. I truly believe you can't deeply and fully understand many of the truths of the NT without understanding the OT. You can definitely come to Christ without understanding them, but seeing the richness and the deepness of God's love for mankind, the length to which He has gone and will go, the detail and time that He put in to preparing the way for our salvation – it really comes out (at least to me) when you look at the OT. From the many OT quotations used by Christ and all of the NT writers, I have to believe they felt the same. (For one tiny example, one would be puzzled to hear John the Baptist proclaim Jesus to be the "Lamb of God" without understanding the concept of the passover lamb, right?)

    Well, I've either cleared that up or made it muddier than it was; probably muddier. Maybe I'm thinking too much and just need to shut down and simplify. I truly appreciate your comments and your concern, brother. I pray you and all the other commenters have a great day of worship and fellowship tomorrow!

  24. Jay Guin says:


    I just typed up a response, but your comments raise a point too important for the comments. I'll be posting the response in a few days as part of the series.

    Thanks for making me dig deeper into the word of God.

  25. aBasnar says:

    OK, I think I misunderstood your point – but here I agree fully with you


  26. Anonymous says:

    In 2 Chronicles 28 a plague had descended on Jerusalem because the temple had been defiled by the assyrians and the king took the not-commanded sacrificial system outside of the temple walls to which it was quarantined and no civillian could go. It was Hezekiah's idea that he have a Plague stopping animal slaughter to purge the city and temple and destroy the pagan shrines.

    The Levites stood meaning in RANKS because they were under the king and commanders of the army. All of the animal sacrifices were made for the atonement of clergy and temple: the Levites did not make any noise.

    Hezekiah decided to burn the goats for Israel which refused to play the game of protecting the city and Hezekiah from impending invasion. They laughed at him.

    It was only during the BURNT OFFERING of the goats that the Levites made a great crashing noise. The text makes it clear that the Levites may have stood in ranks based on the king and prophets but the actual making of noise (never music) did not occur until the holocaust.

    2Chr. 29:26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David,
    ……and the priests with the trumpets. [Commanded by Moses A prophet]

    2Chr. 29:27 And Hezekiah commanded
    …… offer the burnt offering upon the altar.
    ……..And when the burnt offering began,
    ………….the song of the LORD began also with the TRUMPETS
    ………….and with the INSTRUMENTS ORDAINED
    ………….by David king of Israel.

    There are several parallel passages and it is clear that David added the instruments because Zion and later the Temple was the King's Shrine. Temples were HOUSES for gods and not public places of worship.

    Hezekiah looked back about 300 years to find a pattern for a plague stopping ritual. Since God had abandoned the nation to worship the starry host, all contemporaneoud examples calls this an exorcism.

    Christ spoke only through the Prophets and the prophecies made perfect by Jesus.

    Christ in Isaiah 1 and Jeremiah 7 (etal) says that God had not commanded sacrifices or burnt offerings. Burnt offerings are thought to have substituted for the Burnt Infants to Molech: infants were burned just before chapter 29 and as soon as Hezekiah died.

  27. Pingback: One In Jesus » Instrumental Music in the Old Testament, Part 5 (Temple Typology)

  28. HistoryGuy says:

    I wanted to respond with some information pertaining to 2/17/2011 5:51PM. I hope you find our conversations like that of two men smiling and talking over coffee.

    Psalm 81 – thank you for noticing that I said [IF] and that I indicated scholarly disagreement over the date of the statute. All scholars agree that it has a limited context. Please don’t confuse my use of OT regulative language with the Reformation RPW. As Alexander noted, evidence indicates that Asaph combined both early and late statutes of God.

    Private/temple life, we agree that music was more regulated in the Temple than private life. I also agree we don’t know exactly how the music sounded. However, we do know that IM in the Temple was restricted and not dominant like in churches today. The Talmud and Bible state that IM in the Temple only lasted during the sacrifice (2 Chron. 29:28). Also, Israel only used a handful of instruments for specific private/national events, though many more instruments were available to them.

    God strictly regulated IM in Temple, loosely regulated IM in private setting, but I have said nothing of inspired song style. I’m sorry if I gave that impression. Allow me to clarify. I certainly don't want to give the impression that the song and style was from God, but the parameters were. Sometimes the song was inspired, but other times the song was purely of human devotion. For example, the Song of Moses (Ex. 15; 32) and Deborah (Judges 5) are inspired songs. Miriam is called a prophetess (Ex. 15:20) and other prophets (1 Sam. 10:5; 13:3; 16:16-23; 18:10; 19:9; 2 Kings 3:15) use instruments to play tunes and speak while under divine inspiration and with divine approval. The Psalms are inspired poems, stories, and songs. Some psalms are instrumental and others are not, but only a handful of instruments are listed, whether Temple or private life. God was more active than some have considered.

    Still, neither the prophets, nor "just any" IM were made part of Tabernacle/Temple worship, but rather kept within their respective private/national celebrations, and/or prophetical settings. This is in sharp contrast to the Israel's neighbors like Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon (Dan. 3:4-5) where a plethora of IM was available and used by the pagans in an unregulated fashion.

    IM in the Tabernacle – Miriam's tambourine was one instrument in common with the nations. It may have been modified, women normally played them, and they were not used beyond national celebrations. Though Moses was familiar with all the ways of Egypt, which would have included many musical instruments (Acts 7:20), Israel did not bring Egypt’s IM or Miriam’s tambourine into the Tabernacle worship.

    A few points from Numbers 10:1-10 – Instead of using the trumpets of Egypt, God told Moses to hammer two new silver trumpets (Josephus says this became the Israelite style of trumpet invented by Moses). The design would have included the sound, since the valve Trumpet did not exist at that time. Trumpets were not IM as we know them, but were used for calling Israel to assemble at the Tabernacle, battles, national celebrations, and/or festivals. Only the Priest’s could blow these trumpets, which excluded Moses. Later in history, the Priest's were even above the political system/kings. God regulated these private and public activities – some loosely others strictly. Biblical history tells us that changes were made only when God gave instructions (1 Chron. 16:1-7, 42; 23:1-5, 25-26; 28:11-19; 2 Chron. 7:6; 29:25-29).

    I cannot stress enough that though Israel spent time around many instruments in Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, every time they returned to both private/public worship God, the same limited instruments are used as opposed to additional IM from the nations – Yes, even in private worship. Israel had inspired people instructing them in the ways of God often, which would certainly help us today (lol). Though a national event involving all the people that leads into a more restricted Temple worship, God regulated Israelite life more than we sometimes think (Ex. 25:14-15; 1 Chron. 13; 15:12-15, 19-22, 28-29).

    In public and private worship, we see repeated attention given to what was written from God (2 Chron. 8:14; 23:18; 31:3; 35:4,6,12, 15; Neh. 8:14-15; 10:34-36; 12:36, 45) I stress that even in private worship away from the Temple, the Psalms, the Chronicles, etc reveal Israel using the same old limited number and kind of Instruments, as opposed to those of the nations.

    Many IM that Israel used were literally invented, which means directed by the Spirit, through Moses, David, and/or other people of God. Moses made the Trumpets and all that was in the Tabernacle by inspiration (Ex. 25:40; Num. 10:1). David invented [Khaw-shab] several instruments (Amos 6:5), which are generally called ~ the instruments of David~. [Khaw-shab] is also used in (Ex. 31:3-5; 35:32, 35; 36:8, 35; 38:23; 2 Chron. 26:15) among other places. David says that he made [asa] certain instruments for giving praise to God (1 Chron. 23:4-5). Some Biblical characters call a greater number of instruments, the instruments of David. David seems to have not only invented, but at times modified some instruments like the harp and lyre, since they are called David’s instruments, but existed prior to his life (Gen. 4:21; 1 Sam. 10:5).

    I am nearing the 1,000 word mark… I want to stress that while living in Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and other nations, Israel encountered and was affected by an abundance of instruments, but Israel did not integrate them into their life. Instead, Israel being directed by God modified, invented, and used a limited number of IM in their private and public worship. This post has not been about what the church can or cannot do, rather what Israel did. Jay you know this, so I ask other posters to keep it in mind. Though too brief, I hope it’s been insightful.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Excellent summary: the people who "worshipped" fell on their face probably. The singers and instrument players came to the aid of the priests during the burnt offering in the case of Hezekiah.

    Furthermore, the civilians were quarantined in the case of the temple dedication "outside the gates." Lucky for them because they prayed to God and God answered from heaven. Even Solomon grasped that God had shut down access.

    The congregation would be part of the Civil-Military-Priestly class and at times "stationary men" or representatives from the tribes.

    2Chr. 29:20 Then Hezekiah the KING rose early,
    and gathered the RULERS of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
    2Chr. 29:21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats,
    —-for a sin offering for
    —- the kingdom,
    —-and for the sanctuary,
    —- and for Judah.
    And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.

    Hezekiah looked back close to 300 years (?) for David's plague-stoping sacrifice as a pattern. None of the Old Testament examples had any relationship to the people's day of rest and attending the synagogue from the wilderness onward.

    If you use 2 Chronicles 29 as a pattern, after you do it once you have to wait again until Nehemiah referred back to David. I like that: do it once OUTSIDE of the temple and don't do it again for 300 years. 🙂

  30. No discussion after 2011? Why did the discussion end abruptly?

  31. Dwight says:

    Don’t know why it stalled. But I will take up the argument from the History Guy who posted last. Many will argue that God intiated both the trumpets and the other instuments, but in reality In Lev.23/ Num.10 God intiated “two trumpets” and then….many generations later David intiated his instruments (I Chron.15:16, 23:5, 25:1-6; II Chron.7:6, 29:25-27; Ezra 3;10-11; Neh.12:36) “And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.” And other scriptures say “as David commanded”. The scriptures are clear that God commanded certain instruments and David others and both were played within the context of each other. God was not upset as long as David’s instruments didn’t replace His instruments.
    And it is hard to imagine that Israel didn’t adopt instruments from the surrounding nations or at least have them at their disposal all ready after all we read that the harp and flute were known as far back as Genisis 4. The instrument were limited by type, not by modifications.

  32. Jay Guin says:


    The discussion did not end. Rather, the series continued and the discussion continued with the later posts.

    At the bottom of the article, you’ll find a link to the category of the article (“Instrumental Music in the Old Testament”), which will pull up a list of the posts in the entire series. Or you can follow this link: /category/index/church-of-christ-doctrinal-issues/instrumental-music-church-of-christ-doctrinal-issues/instrumental-music-in-the-old-testament/.

    For additional materials on instrumental music, go to the Categories drop down on the right. Find “Church of Christ Doctrinal Issues.” Beneath it will be a link to everything I’ve ever posted on IM.

  33. Thanks for the redirection towards continuation of the discussion.

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