Taking Another Look At Amos 6:5

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It is written:

Amos 6:5-Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; :

1 Chronicles 23:5-four thousand were gatekeepers, and four thousand praised the LORD with musical instruments, “which I made,” said David, “for giving praise.”

2 Chronicles 7:6-And the priests attended to their services; the Levites also with instruments of the music of the LORD, which King David had made to praise the LORD, saying, “For His mercy endures forever,” whenever David offered praise by their ministry. The priests sounded trumpets opposite them, while all Israel stood.

Ezra 3:10-When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel.

Nehemiah 12:24-And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God.

Nehemiah 12:36-and his brethren, Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God. And Ezra the scribe went before them.

For years, I have believed that these passages were teaching that instrumental music was brought in by king David in the Old Testament without Divine authority.

However, other Scriptures and considerations are making me question that particular interpretation.

2 Chronicles 29:25-And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.

Again, this passage describes the plans which David received from the Lord:

1 Chronicles 28:11-13-Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; 12  and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things; 13  also for the division of the priests and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the LORD, and for all the articles of service in the house of the LORD.

One author has written:

“This absence of instrumental music from the services of the tabernacle continued not only during the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert, but after their entrance into the promised land, throughout the protracted period of the Judges, the reign of Saul, and a part of David’s. This is a noteworthy fact. Although David was a lover of instrumental music, and himself a performer upon the harp, it was not until some time after his reign had begun that this order of things was changed, and, as we shall see, changed by divine command. Let us hear the scriptural record (1 Chron. 23: 1-6): “So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites. Now the Levites were numbered by the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was fifty and eight thousand; of which twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the Lord; and six thousand were officers and judges: moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the Lord with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith. And David divided them into courses among the sons of Levi, namely, Gershon, Kohath and Merari.” Now, how did David come to make this alteration in the Mosaic order which had been established by divine revelation? For the answer let us again consult the sacred record (1 Chron. 28: 11-13, 19): “Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the inner parlors thereof, and of the place of the mercy-seat, and the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things: also for the courses of the priests and the Levites, and for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the Lord . . . . All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, and all the works of this pattern.” 2 Chron. 29: 25, 26: “And he [Solomon] set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets.” In the light of these statements of God’s Word several things are made evident, which challenge our serious attention. First, instrumental music never was divinely warranted as an element in the tabernacle-worship until David received inspired instructions to introduce it, as preparatory to the transition which was about to be effected to the more elaborate ritual of the temple. Secondly, when the temple was to be built and its order of worship to be instituted, David received a divine revelation in regard to it, just as Moses had concerning the tabernacle with its ordinances. Thirdly, this direct revelation to David was enforced upon Solomon, and upon the priests and Levites, by inspired communications touching the same subject from the prophets Gad and Nathan. Fourthly, instrumental music would not have been constituted an element in the temple-worship, had not God expressly authorized it by his command. The public worship of the tabernacle, up to the time when it was to be merged into the temple, had been a stranger to it, and so great an innovation could have been accomplished only by divine authority. God’s positive enactment grounded the propriety of the change. Is it not clear that the great principle, that whatsoever is not commanded by God, either expressly or impliedly, in relation to the public worship of his house, is forbidden, meets here a conspicuous illustration? The bearing of all this upon the Christian church is as striking as it is obvious. If, under a dispensation dominantly characterized by external appointments, instrumental music could not be introduced into the worship of God’s sanctuary, except in consequence of a warrant furnished by him, how can a church, existing under the far simpler and more spiritual dispensation of the gospel, venture, without such a warrant, to incorporate it into its public services? and that no such warrant can be pleaded will be made apparent as the argument expands.” (John L. Girardeau, Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church, 243-274 (Kindle Edition))

Adam Clarke has this interesting note regarding 2 Chronicles 29:25:

“Moses had not appointed any musical instruments to be used in the divine worship; there was nothing of the kind under the first tabernacle. The trumpets or horns then used were not for song nor for praise, but as we use bells, i.e., to give notice to the congregation of what they were called to perform, etc. But David did certainly introduce many instruments of music into God’s worship, for which we have already seen he was solemnly reproved by the prophet Amos, Amo 6:1-6. Here, however, the author of this book states he had the commandment of the prophet Nathan, and Gad the king’s seer; and this is stated to have been the commandment of the Lord by his prophets: but the Syriac and Arabic give this a different turn – “Hezekiah appointed the Levites in the house of the Lord, with instruments of music, and the sound of harps, and with the Hymns of David, and the Hymns of Gad, the king’s prophet, and of Nathan, the king’s prophet: for David sang the praises of the Lord his God, as from the mouth of the prophets.” 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. But were it even evident, which it is not, either from this or any other place in the sacred writings, that instruments of music were prescribed by Divine authority under the law, could this be adduced with any semblance of reason, that they ought to be used in Christian worship? No: the whole spirit, soul, and genius of the Christian religion are against this: and those who know the Church of God best, and what constitutes its genuine spiritual state, know that these things have been introduced as a substitute for the life and power of religion; and that where they prevail most, there is least of the power of Christianity. Away with such portentous baubles from the worship of that infinite Spirit who requires his followers to worship him in spirit and in truth, for to no such worship are those instruments friendly.” (Adam Clarke, Commentary On 2 Samuel 29:25 (E-Sword Edition)

The Scriptures which were adduced at the beginning of this study could simply be stating that the advent of instrumental music in Temple worship was recognized as having David as its’ instigator, without describing whether or not such was actually by Divine authority. For example, we use the phrase “Noah’s Ark” in our language. By calling it “Noah’s Ark,” we are not trying to say that Noah built the Ark without Divine authority. In the same way, “musical instruments like David,” may simply be referring to the idea that the instruments were associated with David.

Either way, there is no authority in the New Testament Scriptures for instrumental music in the public worship of the church.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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