IS CHRISTIAN ROCK SCRIPTURAL???

To answer this - look in the Bible:

PSALM 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

Musical Instruments in this Passage

When we are dealing with music and musical instruments of the time of David, we are dealing with ancient times. In most cases, no physical record exists of the appearance of the instrument due to an ancient commandment against making images. The Bible does not contain instructions on how to make the instruments (strange, since exact instructions exist for the ark of the convenant and Noah's Ark). Musical scores and notes are also not recorded. Therefore, we are forced to fall back on ancient secular sources and Jewish tradition for information.

Another problem is that the King James and other translations make a total MESS of this passage - putting modern musical instruments in. The best thing I can do is re-quote from a literal Hebrew source with |Strong's concordance numbers|:


1. |1984| Praise Yah! |8416|
Praise |0410| God |6944| in His holy place.
|1984| Praise Him |7549| in the expanse of |1369| His might.
2. |1984| Praise Him |0000| in His |1369| mighty acts. |1984|
Praise Him |7230| according to excellent |1433| His greatness.
3. |1984| Praise Him |6963| with the sound of |7782| the trumpet.
|1984| Praise Him |5035| with the harp |3658| and lyre.
4. |1984| Praise Him |8596| with the timbrel |7540| and dance.
|1984| Praise Him |4482| with strings |5748| and pipes.
5. |1984| Praise Him |6167| on the cymbals |1419| loud.
|1984| Praise Him |6767| with the cymbals of |8693| resounding.
6. |3605| everything |5397| that breathes
|1984| Let praise |3050| Yah. |8416| Praise |3050| Yah!

Now we are in a position to know the actual names of the instruments (with descriptive material from the Zondervan Bible dictionary):

Trumpet

Strong's Ref. # 7782, Romanized showphar, Pronounced sho-far' or shophar {sho-far'}; from HSN8231 in the original sense of incising; a cornet (as giving a clear sound) or curved horn: KJV--cornet, trumpet.

The Shofar or keren (horn) is the only temple instrument still being used today in the synagogue. Originally, the s/ic tar was a ram's horn without mouthpiece. It was used chiefly as a signal instrument in religious as well as in secular ceremonies. One single incident stands out in conjunction with the blowing of the she/ar. This is recorded in Joshua 6:20. "So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets (she/ar): and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city." Gideon the Judge frightened his enemies, the Midianites, by the sound of the Lord's horn blown by 300 of his men (Judg. 7:16-22). The blowing of the she/ar was even attributed to Jehovah Himself, in order to frighten His enemies and to gather the scattered remnant of Israel to His sanctuary. Thus, Zechariah says: "And the Lord God shall blow the trumpet (she/ar). . . . The Lord of hosts shall defend them" (Zech. 9:14,15).

During the latter part of the period of the Second Temple, two types of she/aroth were in use: the curved (male) ram's horn and the straight (female) mountain goat's horn. The Talmudian tractate Resh-heshana 3:2-6 gives a detailed description of the she/ar: "All she/ars are valid save that of a cow. The slietar blown in the temple at the New Year was made from the horn of the mountain goat, straight, with its mouthpiece overlaid with gold. At the sides of them that blew the slietar were two priests that blew upon the silver trumpets. The she/ar blew a long note and the trumpets a short note, since the duty of the day fell on the she/ar. The she/ar blown on New Year's Day was to remind God of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and especially of Isaac's sacrifice and of the ram that substituted him (Gen. 22:13).

"The she/ars blown on days of fasting were ram's horns, curved, with mouthpieces overlaid with silver. Between them were two priests who blew upon silver trumpets. The she/ar blew a short note and the trumpets a long note, since the duty of the day fell on the trumpets. The Year of Jubilee is like to the New Year in the blowing of the she/ar. Today, the sound of the she/ar is to stir the hearts of the Jewish people to awe and reverence and to remind them of their duties to God. As a matter of fact, the Shofar Song is a simple but beautiful call to worship."

sopharHere is a scruffy looking rock musician with "long womanish hair" blowing his trumpet, how would you like to have this guy try to minister in your church next Sunday? NO - FOOLED YOU - it is actually a Jewish Rabbi blowing a Sophar!

Harp

Strong's Ref. # 5035, Romanized nebel, Pronounced neh'-bel or nebel {nay'-bel}; from HSN5034; a skin-bag for liquids (from collapsing when empty); hence, a vase (as similar in shape when full); also a lyre (as having a body of like form): KJV--bottle, pitcher, psaltery, vessel, viol.

The harp (nevel) is often associated with the word psaltery (asor from assara, the Hebrew word for ten). The psaltery (asor) is mentioned twice in the Psalms in connection with the harp (nevel): Psalm 33:2 and 144:9; and with both harp (nevel) and lyre (kinner), in Psalm 92:3.

It is generally accepted that this was a ten- stringed, rectangular zither. To the early Church Fathers this psaltery was symbolical: the ten strings, the Ten Commandments; and the four sides, the Gospels.

In I Samuel 10:5, Samuel the prophet tells the newly anointed King Saul that he would meet "a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp (nevel), before them; and they shall prophesy." This is the first time the nevel is mentioned in the Bible. This large harp, like the lyre, was made of berosh and almug wood, but the harp had a resonant body. According to Josephus, the harp was played with the fingers and had 12 strings, in contrast to ten strings of the lyre, which was played with a plectrum.

These two instruments were the most important ones in the temple orchestra, and without which A Rabbi blowing the otar to announce the New Year celebration. The sofar is also sounded every Friday evening at sunset to begin the Sabbath. The harp seems to have been a vertical, angular harp. larger in size, louder, and lower in pitch than the lyre. The harp is mentioned frequently in the Book of Psalms: 33:2; 57:8; 71:22; 81:2; 92:3; 108:2; 144:9; 150:3.

The harp was often used at secular festivities. Isaiah the prophet complains "And the harp, and the viol (nevel), the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands" (Isaiah 5:12). Amos the prophet writes: "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols (nevels)" (Amos 5:23). And in Amos 6:4-6, he prophesies woe to them that "lie on beds of ivory ... and eat the lambs out of the flock . . . that chant to the sound of the viol (nevel) . . . that drink wine in bowls."

Lyre

Strong's Ref. # 3658, Romanized kinnowr, Pronounced kin-nore', from a unused root meaning to twang; a harp: KJV--harp.

lyreThe Lyre (Heb. kinner). Jewish historians ascribe the first use of musical instruments to the seventh generation after the creation of the world. Genesis 4:21 states that Jubal, son of Adah and Lamech, offspring of Methusael, son of Mehujael, son of Irad, son of Enoch, son of Cain, Adam and Eve's firstborn "was the father of all such as handle the harp (kinner) and organ (ugab)." The kinnor was the famous instrument on which, later on, King David excelled, and which has erroneously been called "King David's harp." The kinner was a stringed instrument, but it had no resonant body like the harp. It was a lyre, and whether its original form was square or triangular is not known due to the ancient commandment to refrain from the creation of images. No representation of musical instruments and no original Biblical melodies have come down to us. The kinnor was made of wood. David made it of berosh, but in I Kings 10:12 it is recorded that Solomon made some of almug for use in the temple. According to Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, the kinnor had ten strings which were plucked with a plectrum, and they were probably tuned pentatonically, without semitones, through two octaves.

The kinner was used on joyous occasions; for instance, it is stated in Genesis 31:26-27: "And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp (kinnor)?" The Jews refused to play the kinnor during the Babylonian Exile. They suspended their kinnorim on the willows; how could they "sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (Ps. 137:4). The kinner was gay, and when the prophets of old admonished the people, they threatened that the kinner, the symbol of joy and happiness, would be silenced unless the people repented from their sins. The kinnor was one of the temple orchestra instruments and its tone is described as sweet, tender, soft, and lyrical. I Chronicles 25:3 states that Jeduthun and his sons prophesied with a kinner; and I Samuel 16:23 says about David and Saul: "And it came to pass ... that David took a kinnor, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." The kinnor was also a popular instrument among the more cultured classes in Israel.

Timbrel

Strong's Ref. # 8596, Romanized toph, Pronounced tofe, from HSN8608 contracted; a tambourine: KJV--tabret, timbrel.

The Tambourine (Heb. to!). The two instruments mentioned in Genesis 31:27, to which reference was made earlier, were the tabret (tupim) and the harp (kinner). The form tupim is the plural form of the Hebrew word tot. The tot was a small drum made of a wooden hoop and probably two skins, without any jingling contrivance like the modern tambourine. It was a rhythm-indicator, and used for dances and joyous occasions as well as religious celebrations. II Samuel 6:5 states that David employed the tot at the installation of the ark in Jerusalem. The tot is not listed among the musical instruments either of the First or Second Temple, despite its being mentioned three times in the Psalms: 81:2; 149:3; 150:4. The tot was played primarily by women: "And Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel (tot) in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances" (Exod. 15:20); Jephthah's unfortunate daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances" (Judg. 11:34); and the women of Israel coming to greet King Saul after David had slain Goliath, came "singing and dancing ... with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick" (I Sam. 18:6).

For some reason, the use of "drums" by David in this Psalm is intensely disturbing to some critics. I even had a critic start an irate email to me that "toph's" are not drums! It always concerns me when somebody has to change the Bible to fit their pet doctrine. As for myself - it the Bible says Timbrel, and that translates a small drum - so be it! If the plain sense makes sense don't look for any other sense, lest you end up with NONSENSE. Why should I try to tell God that drum doesn't mean drum, or He can't honor worship coming from people that use drums. That would be really presumptuous on my part. I have some good natured fun with the critics when they dogmatically say that there should be no drums in the church.

Dance

Strong's Ref. # 7540, Romanized raqad, Pronounced raw-kad', a primitive root; properly, to stamp, i.e. to spring about (wildly or for joy): KJV--dance, jump, leap, skip.

Pipe

Strong's Ref. # 5748, Romanized `uwgab, Pronounced oo-gawb' or `uggab {oog-gawb'}; from HSN5689 in the original sense of breathing; a reed-instrument of music: KJV--organ.

The Pipe (Heb. ugab). The organ was the other instrument mentioned in Genesis 4:21. This instrument is not mentioned in the list of the musical instruments used in the temple and was not an organ, but rather a shepherd's pipe or flute. The only reference to ugab is in Job 21:12; 30:31 and in Psalm 150:4.

Cymbals

Strong's Ref. # 6767, Romanized tslatsal, Pronounced tsel-aw-tsal', from HSN6750 reduplicated; a clatter, i.e. (abstractly) whirring (of wings); (concretely) a cricket; also a harpoon (as rattling), a cymbal (as clanging): KJV--cymbal, locust, shadowing, spear.

The Cymbals (Heb. seslim and ms/ltay/m). The only permanent percussive instrument in the temple orchestra was the cymbal. In the Holy Seriptures, the use of cymbals is solely confined to religious ceremonies the bringing back of the Ark from Kirjath-jearim (I Chron. 15: 16, 19, 28); at the dedication of Solomon's Temple (II Chron. 5: 13); at the restoration of worship by Hezekiah (II Chron. 29:25); at the laying of the foundation of the Second Temple (Ezra 3:10); and the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:27).

In Psalm 150, two types of cymbals are pointed out: "Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals." The "loud cymbals" were of a larger diameter than the "high (pitch) sounding," and were two-handed cymbals. The high sounding cymbals were much smaller and played by one hand, the cymbals being attached to the thumb and the middle finger respectively.

In the time of David and Solomon, much stress was laid upon the cymbal and percussive instruments. The chief singer of David, Asaph, was a cymbal player (I Chron. 16:5). However, in the last century of the Second Temple the percussive instruments were restricted to one cymbal, which was used to mark pauses only, but not to participate while the singing and the playing were going on.

So what do we have?

The music was to be accompanied by dancing described as springing about wildly for joy.

By now, you probably know where I am going with this. It sounds a lot like a modern Christian rock concert to me! Folks, this is God's word, explained the best it can be, removed 3500 years from when it was written. Critics - DEAL WITH IT!!! I am not going to be so trite as to say that this scripture commands rock music in the church, but I can state that a group playing musical instruments much like a modern rock band has been accepted in scripture as a valid praise experience.

Another fine point that I don't want to pass over is that some of these instruments were sanctified temple instruments, and some were not. Why? This is just my opinion, but I think God is saying there is no "correct list" of instruments. Any instrument used to praise Him is OK. I know some of you will disagree.

Can We Know What Type of Music Jesus Liked?

If there was one thing that could immediately silence all critics of Christian rock is if Jesus himself put His approval on it! Can we know what types of music Jesus listened to? I believe we can! It IS possible to know one type of music that Jesus himself enjoyed - it is LOUD and JOYFUL, and we even have some of the lyrics!!!!! The date was the first Palm Sunday, the place was the road into Jerusalem, and there was a great crowd that had come out to meet Him:

36. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38. "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" 39. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" 40. "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." --- Luke 19:36-40

Now - I don't think anybody would disagree that this was a loud, enthusiastic, raucous crowd, "partying" as their "King" entered town. Unfortunately - their enthusiasm soon waned as they realized He was not going to overthrow the hated Romans. Within a week, they cried for Barabbas. But - that is not why I quoted this. I think it is safe to say that Jesus enjoyed the experience - and rightly so, knowing that it was probably one of the last joyous experiences He would have in His life on Earth. JESUS PUT HIS APPROVAL ON LOUD, JOYOUS, RAUCAUS MUSIC - no other interpretation is possible!

I think it is interesting that it was the Pharisees who were rubuked, and not the shallow believers. Apparently - worship - no matter how shallow the basis, is more important to Jesus than religious formality and decorum. I have to say - that although the Pharisees as a sect have long since ceased to exist - their negative spirit is alive and well - in Christian rock critics. The church has become a refuge for a certain type of person, who likes to control the behavior of other people. Couching it in scriptural terms, they love to pronounce "God's opinion" - scripturally based or not - on a variety of topics. If they control the leaders who preach, the Bibles that are read, and the music used to worship - they have complete control of the whole church. They have it packaged in their little doctrinal box. The one thing they cannot own, fortunately, is Jesus Christ - who tends to break out of those little boxes FORCEFULLY and humble the proud.

Is there any other proof about that Jesus / God likes loud, joyful music? Several people in the Old Testament are proto-persons of Jesus. People whose lives and characteristics point to attributes of the person of Jesus, providing examples of what to look for in the coming Messiah. No one fits this category better than David. None of these men are perfect, and their comparison with Jesus ends where their fatal flaws begin. In David's case, it was his adulterous affair with Bathsheba - and its consequences. However - David is know as "a man after God's own heart". So David can be said to be the substitute for Jesus in certain circumstances.

The setting is the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem:

He (David) and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God ... They set the ark of God on a new cart ... David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating (making merry) with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps (see above), lyres (see above), tambourines (timbrel - see above), sistrums (rattles) and cymbals (see above). David, wearing a linen ephod, danced (whirling dance) before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts (battle cry / clamour) and the sound of trumpets (sophar - see above). As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel--I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. --- Exerpts from 2 Samuel 6, with literal Hebrew and other notes in ()'s

I deleted some details of sacrifices along the way, and an incident where Uzzah reached out to touch the Ark and was killed, leading to a period of three months when the ark was stored. These details, although important for other reasons, do not detract from the fact that the return of the Ark was a joyous occasion for David and all of the Hebrews.

Interestingly - "Pharisees" come in both genders. Mark these words carefully - opponents of Christian rock: If you are secretly envious of the fun that the teenagers are having, and aware that worship is not that fun and exciting to you - you cannot attempt to forbid or quench the spirit of worship! If you do - or even speak out as Michal did - you, too will have no "children" (or should I say salvations) in your ministry. It is OVER - God's hand of blessing has departed from your ministry, never to return. Find another line of work.

Is there any King James support for Christian rock music?

Some of the critics - almost arrogantly - demand that everything be filtered through the King James Version. One critic arrogantly says they won't even read scriptural evidence or respond to emails that are not King James based. So all of my careful word studies above are meaningless to them - David was commanding pipe organs even if they weren't going to be invented for 2500 years. Anyway, I am not going to cater to these people in my essays - their own arrogance speaks volumes more than any criticism I could level at them. But their position is so weak that it is not even in accordance with the King James translation:

1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. 2. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. 3. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. --- Psalm 33:1-3

There you have it - a ten string instrument (the ONLY one that I know of the exists today is a ten string guitar), and do it skillfully and LOUD. Perhaps the critics don't think that Christian rock is very skillfully played, but I can tell you - after taking a few guitar lessons - that the chord changes required for some of it require a LOT of skill. And there is NO MISTAKING the word LOUD. Loud means LOUD! I ought to send this to the Christian rock critics, but I have learned through bitter experience that these guys are not open to any opinion other than their own. The few people that I know of that have contacted them directly have been met with insults and derision - even when they make valid points. So this King James proof is for YOU - the Christian rock fan who also loves the King James version.

By the way - the literal Hebrew is almost the same as the King James, except that loud noise is that same word for battle cry and clamour. The Christian rock critics like to use Exodous 32:17 against Christian rock. The word Joshua uses to describe the Hebrew encampment is a different Hebrew word, but translates the same way as this passage - battle cry or clamour. So the Christian rock critics are wrong is saying the music is evil, because Psalm 33:3 uses the same description as a way to rejoice in the Lord. It was the golden calf that was the sin, not the music.

In Closing ---

We at THE INTRO LIVE use Psalms 150 as our theme scripture. From the description of the musical instruments, we don't believe there is any restriction on the type of instrument to be used in praise and worship, the volume of the music, or the tempo of the music. All instruments and styles of music can and should be used to worship the Lord. And worship can occur anywhere, even in your home listening to THE INTRO LIVE!!!

Our music is targeted towards the 12 to 25 year old age group - a group which WILL NOT listen to opera style, nightclub style, or gospel music which dominates the airwaves of Christian stations. We seek to provide music by artists who are singing about God, or at least a Biblical principle, and whose lifestyle is worthy as a role model.

We ask your prayers, but most of all, your LOVE - love enough not to be judgemental of us or our listeners. I have just provided Biblical basis for our format. If you do not believe the Word of God, take it up with the Lord in your quiet time.

No, we are not OF the world, we are IN the world, but not OF it. Our standards for our programming are high, they have to be beyond reproach. We have prevented suicides, had salvations, rededications, prayer needs - all handled behind the scenes. We have been successful in drawing a large audience of non-Christians, which is exactly the way we and the Great Commission want it!

A stern warning here - if you feel that this music is not for you - DO NOT LISTEN!!!

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