1 Chronicles 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.
One word in this verse blows me out of the water: prophesying. I have to say that their usage of the term isn’t the same as how I use it! From this and other passages, “ecstatic utterance” would perhaps be a better term, particularly considering such incidents as Saul prophesying. (1 Samuel 10:10-13) What is without question is that these men were designated musicians, and music is closely associated with worship. Again, several places in the Old Testament associate music with prophecy. (2 Kings 3:14-15) It is certainly true that music stimulates emotion. Many churches today have incorporated “worship teams” in their services, actually much along the lines of what we have here. The danger in that is that all too often it becomes a matter of performance, rather than genuine worship, and with everything happening on stage, the congregation participates little if at all. That’s not worship! We know next to nothing about the men mentioned here, but we have some of the Psalms they wrote, and there were certainly many who loved the Lord in all sincerity. On the whole subject of music/worship/prophecy, it is entirely possible to manipulate a group of people through music. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will move powerfully through a particular song, but sometimes it’s just the “worship leader” seeking to manipulate people. The awkward thing there is that there is a real gift and skill to selecting the music for a service, in terms of the flow of keys, rhythms, and lyrics. The difference between an anointed “worship set” and one that was thrown together can be painfully obvious. There is a real element of the prophetic in leading worship, and it needs to kick in during the preparation time as well as in the actual service. Church musicians should be committed to excellence, but have a constant battle with pride. They must remember that they are not there as performers, but as worshipers. Only then will the Lord be pleased with what they offer.
I am a musician, but as pastor my role gets complicated. I have the strongest voice in the church, but if I’m showing off I’m not worshiping. As pastor, one of my vital roles is that of Chief Worshiper. If I’m not worshiping in Spirit and in truth, how can I expect the congregation to do so? Sometimes I’m distracted by any of a number of things, and have to make a very conscious effort to focus on worship. It’s always worth the effort! I desire that the messages I speak be prophetic, expressing what God is saying, but that is not likely to happen if my heart is not worshiping humbly before my Lord. Not everyone comes from a musical family the way I do. I am not to demand perfection in music from anyone in the congregation, but I am to encourage genuine worship. God can deal with people’s senses of pitch and rhythm! I am to foster an environment where God will delight to inhabit His people’s praises.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the musical part of the magnificent heritage You have given me. May my use of music always be as You intend, drawing people to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!