Tune Our Hearts, part 2

Read other articles in this series: part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

David had a heart for his God. So, when David realized that he lived in a beautiful palace while God’s house was a tent, he felt guilty. He wanted to build God a proper house. And, God said, “Okay. But, you won’t build it. Your son will.”

In 1Chronicles 25, David arranges 4,000 of the Levites into singers and musicians to serve as a temple choir. This is a little surprising because in all of the instructions about worship in the tabernacle, God gave no legislation concerning musical worship.

God kept David in the loop, though. He made David an essential part of the process of planning and preparing for the construction of the temple (see 1Chronicles 22-29). One of his most important functions was to relay God’s instructions about the organization of the future temple services. He took the Levites and organized them into different departments to focus on different aspects of temple service. This was necessary, first, because Israel had not been all that faithful in carrying out these services during the reign of David’s predecessor, Saul. Second, the house of God was about to change from a tent to a temple, and other, related changes, would accompany the transition.

One of the biggest changes was in the musical praise of the house of God. In 1Chronicles 25, David arranges 4,000 of the Levites into singers and musicians to serve as a temple choir. This is a little surprising because in all of the instructions about worship in the tabernacle, God gave no legislation concerning musical worship. God had told Moses in Numbers 10 to make two silver trumpets, but they were primarily for announcements, so to speak. But, in preparation for the new temple, God introduces laws about musical praise.

Now, it’s not that music was not a part of tabernacle worship. Many of the Psalms are written by David, and some even before his time, and mention sacrifices and other elements of what would be, in his day, tabernacle worship. Those Psalms are songs. It seems that a culture of musical praise built up around tabernacle worship, though it had not been commanded.

Forget for the moment, if you can, all the details about who, and with what kinds of instruments, and when. Just think about this question: why did God add music to corporate Israelite worship?

Psalm 27, in particular, written by David, declares the singers desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord” all the days of his life, and describes offering sacrifices on the altar at the tabernacle while shouting with joy, and singing and making melody to the Lord. For the worshipers of God, like David, who went to God’s house, music was a natural expression of their praise to God, and it developed without any laws from God.

But, in the temple, musical worship was legislated by God. In light of the fact that worshipers were already singing, the fact that God organized and commanded musical worship indicates that God not only approved of it, but that He wanted more of it. The Psalms alone could also establish this fact. Though we don’t have time to study all the reasons for and meanings of this change, the main point is that God wanted music (see 2Chronicles 29:25).

Forget for the moment, if you can, all the details about who, and with what kinds of instruments, and when. Just think about this question: why did God add music to corporate Israelite worship? And why, in the new covenant now, does Paul tell the worshipers of God today to sing and make melody?

The basic answer has to be: because music itself is important to God. It is not secondary. It is not arbitrary. It is a significant and useful–even necessary–aspect of godly living.

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