Vol.VII No.VII Pg.7
September 1970

Queries And Answers

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

In view of 2 Chron. 29:25-36; Psm. 81: 1-5; and Amos 6:5; was instrumental music under the Law of Moses a commandment? If not,, was it permissible? Was it condemned? P.W., Ala.


Periodically the question about David and the instruments comes to the surface, to be rehashed. It is an excellent opportunity to show prejudices (as if special opportunity was needed) for there are some aspects of the problem that have no certain answer. It should be noted here that we are not subject to the Law of Moses; our worship must find its authority in the New Testament of Christ.

There is no evidence of mechanical instruments of music related to the Jewish tabernacle, nor to the institution of the various sacrifices or festivals. But some 450 years later it seems instruments were common in certain phases of worship.

With the coming of Gods Glory into the Temple which Solomon built, there was great instrumentation. Adam Clarke, opposed to such music in the church, says, Cymbals, psalteries, and harps, of any kind, in union with a hundred and twenty trumpets or horns, could not produce much harmony — as to melody, that must have been impossible, as the noise was too great. (2 Chron. 5:12-f) But even Clarke must admit that instrumental usage was there.

Concerning the authority for such, Clarke cites the Syriac and Arabic texts on 2 Chron. 29:25 and says, "It was by the hand or commandment of the Lord and his prophets that the Levites should praise the Lord for so the Hebrew text may be understood; and it was by the order of David that so many instruments of music should be introduced into the Divine service. I can not verify such texts.

The Hardeman-Boswell Debate has an interesting exchange on this. Hardeman did not deny instruments in Solomon's and Zerubbabels temple, but argued there was no evidence for such in the temple built by Herod.

Psm. 81: 1-5 says the feast day is a statute for Israel, appointed in Joseph, commemorating deliverance from bondage. (Passover)

Amos 6:5 is not, in my judgement, a woe pronounced on the instruments, per se; nor did David invent the first instrument. (Gen. 4:21, etc.) This passage condemns the at ease in Zion attitude that prevailed despite Gods obvious warnings. Note 5:21-f. God hated even their solemn assemblies etc., done without justice and righteousness.

We can not go to David, or to Jewish worship under Judaism, for authority for N. T. church worship. If Temple worship authorizes harps, it also authorizes animal sacrifice and a priestly system. But both priesthood and law are changed (Heb. 7:12) and we find authority for religious service in the New Covenant. There we are taught by command and example to sing making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Eph. 5:19 1 Cor. 14:15) We have no authority to play. (Period!)