Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Prophesy with lyre, harp and cymbals

In 1 Chronicles 25 I read these verses:
1David 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. .......5All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6They 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. 7The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the LORD, all who were skillful, was 288. 8And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.
What does that mean? Prophesied with lyres, with harps and with cymbals?

I know that to prophesy one is giving the word of the Lord.
But how does one do that with musical instruments? Can the music we sing be a real form of prophesying the Word of the Lord?

Is it just poorly translated or is my early morning brain missing something here?

Matthew Henry tells us this :
Observe, I. Singing the praises of God is here called prophesying (v. 1-3), not that all those who were employed in this service were honoured with the visions of God, or could foretel things to come. Heman indeed is said to be the king's seer in the words of God (v. 5); but the psalms they sang were composed by the prophets, and many of them were prophetical; and the edification of the church was intended in it, as well as the glory of God. In Samuel's time singing the praises of God went by the name of prophesying (1 Sam. x. 5; xix. 20), and perhaps that is intended in what St. Paul calls prophesying, 1 Cor. xi. 4; xiv. 24.
That tells me that what is meant here "Prophesied with lyres, with harps and with cymbals" is more than just the instruments .... it's the words that go along with it. Than that makes sense to me.

It also tells me that not all music then is "speaking forth the Word of God". These folks were particularly picked to do this work. So not random, not just let's sing this song, but intent that God's word be sung and that his people be edified through it, and that God's glory be shown.

Makes me again see the value in watching what we sing more carefully.

It also points out that more than just a piano or organ can be used in worship music.... stringed instruments (harp and Lyre), wind instruments (horn, ASV seen in verse 5) and instruments that one bangs (cymbals) are used in worship in the Old Testament. So expanding what we use in worship of God is not a unbiblical thing to do. It is reclaiming for God what the world uses for it's own. I was helped in the Formation of that thought by Jamieson's commentary :
Here were, in compliance with the temper of that dispensation, a great variety of musical instruments used, harps, psalteries, cymbals (v. 1, 6), and here was one that lifted up the horn (v. 5), that is, used wind-music. The bringing of such concerts of music into the worship of God now is what none pretend to. But those who use such concerts for their own entertainment should feel themselves obliged to preserve them always free from any thing that savours of immorality or profaneness, by this consideration, that time was when they were sacred; and then those were justly condemned who brought them into common use, Amos vi. 5. They invented to themselves instruments of music like David.
Of Heman (the father), we learn this from Wesley:
The king's seer - He is called the king's seer, either because the king took special delight in him; or because he frequently attended the king in his palace, executing his sacred office there, while the rest were employed in the tabernacle. In the words - To sing Divine songs as were inspired by God to the prophets or holy men of God. The horn - To praise God with the sound of a trumpet or some other musical instrument made of horn, which being a martial kind of music, might be most grateful to David's martial spirit: tho' he was also skilled in other instruments of music which he used in the house of God.
A skilled workman in the art of music. Used his skill to further develop God's people. God's word was given through his music.

Might that we all do the same.

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