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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Musical Style



         Most Christians that listen to Contemporary Christian Music seem to have a favorite argument.  In essence, this argument claims that the bible does not say anything about a specific style.  Well, there are actually a number of different styles mentioned in the Bible, and although the Bible does not indicate a specific style as WE may think of it today, (Rap, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Swing, Etc.)  there are distinctions in styles in the divinely inspired Word of God.   Almost all styles of music in the world can be placed under the “umbrella”  of one of these biblical styles and it is up to the reader to apply these truths to the music that they choose to be an influence in their life.

The Noise of War:

Exodus 32:1-18 is the account of the Lord giving the Ten Commandments to Moses.  Verse 17 tells us that Joshua thought that there was a war going on.  Moses responds, and with the knowledge of what the Lord told him previously (verse 7), said that it is “the noise of them that sing…”  There are a few things to note in this passage.  First, Joshua thought that there was a war going on and so all the chaotic and random noise of war was apparently heard.  Second, the Lord had told Moses that the people had corrupted themselves.  Moses knew that it was not a war that was going on, but that some form of corruption was among the people.  Also, at the end of Moses’ response in verse 18, he says “…but the noise of them that sing do I hear”.  The word translated sing in this phrase is a word that is built off of or from the root word “shout” at the beginning of this verse. Also, it is interesting to note that both times “noise” is used in verses 17-18; it is a word that means to cry or yell with a thunderous voice.  The point that we would like to see from this passage is clear in verse 7.  The people had corrupted themselves and along with this corruption was the act of idolatry, and a style that was likened to the various chaotic noises of war.

The song of the drunkards:

Psalm 69:12 is another indication that the Bible makes a distinction among style.  According to this Psalm, David was quite depressed and frustrated and praying to the Lord for deliverance from these trials.  The things that David is facing are put in poetic language.  The song of the drunkards is yet another divinely inspired style.   What are the characteristics of a drunkard?  The characteristics of a drunkard are made clear for us in the Scriptures and the passages listed below are just a few.

·       Proverbs 4:17
·       Proverbs 20:1
·       Proverbs 31:4
·       Proverbs 31:6
·       Isaiah 5:11
·       Isaiah 5:22
·       Isaiah 29:9
·       Isaiah 24:9
·       Isaiah 28:7

These passages and many more, teach a lot about strong drink and their results.  According to God’s Word, strong drink is the epitome of a fool.  Our passage in the Psalms does not indicate a particular song or any other particulars, but it does indicate that there is a lifestyle associated with drunkards.

Another interesting and telling passage is found in the N.T.  Ephesians 5:18 compares two fillings.  “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” On one hand, a person may be filled with wine and therefore possess all, if not most, of the results from the passages listed above.  The opposite of this filling is to be filled with the Spirit and the results of being filled with the Spirit are found throughout scripture.  Here are some very clear scripture references.

·       Galations 5:22
·       Ephesians 5:9


Sing as an Harlot:

Isaiah 23:15 also indicates yet another style.  This passage tells the reader that the whole city of Tyre shall sing as an harlot.  It is no secret that the lifestyle of the harlot is filled with lust and whether this lifestyle is accepted by society or not, it is still sin according to the Word of God.  It is also no secret that harlots attract men by the way they move their body.  It does not matter what song is being sung, but the way it is being portrayed will tell a totally different intent.  In the early 60’s, Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy.  The words of the song AND the melody are quite innocent and harmless, but the way that the song was performed and presented had a totally different meaning than simply happy birthday.  There have been more recent occasions in this analogy.  Just 20 years later in 1983, Marvin Gaye turned our National Anthem into a sensual song.  The words and melody may stay the same but the way in which it is performed changes the message of the song being sung.  

Song of Fools.

      It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.” –Eccl. 7:5

            In Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us of a style dedicated to fools.  All throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us much about the fool.  One thing is sure that a fool is associated with the rejection of wisdom.  That is especially true in Ecclesiastes 7:5.  The song of the fool is not any better than even the rebuke of the wise.   


Songs of the Temple and of the Lord

There is yet another style mentioned in the scriptures.  In Amos 8:3, we read “And the songs of the temple…”  Again, scripture does not tell us anything regarding the specificities of what was sung, however it is safe to conclude that the songs of the temple and the song of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:27) were completely different than the styles listed above and there are a few points to note about these last two styles.   First, according to the passage in Amos, the songs of the temple were not as the “noise of war”.  The word “howlings” found in Amos 8: 3 and the word “noise” found in Exodus 32:17 both, at their essence, mean to yell.  There is no yelling, involved with the songs of the temple.   Much of the rock music genre consists of a form of yelling.  Second, the songs of the temple will turn to howlings in the day of judgement.  This is also an indication of the decay of this world and the “day of the Lord” drawing nigh.  In 2 Chronicles the song of the Lord is closely associated with worship.  On the other hand, in the Exodus account, false worship was prevalent and the song of the Lord was absent.  The Bible says that it sounded like the noise of war, chaos and the songs of the Lord are the opposite of chaotic noise.  

The style of the music believers choose to use to express worship and praise to an Almighty, All knowing God matters.  Not all styles of music are pleasing to God. 

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