During worship tone-deaf church congregants find solace in the words, ‘Make a joyful noise unto the LORD’ Psalm 100:1a. ‘Noise’ here means calling out loud. According to Scripture the angels did something like this when they worshipped God as He was busy forming creation: ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? … when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy’ Job 38:4a;7. One would expect angels to be tuneful at this point in time! But let us note that music began with the beginning of creation and that it was used first to worship God. Among these ‘morning stars’ or ‘sons of God’ who joyfully praised God was the angel who subsequently would fall and become known as Satan (i.e., the Accuser).
Like human beings, angels are not eternal beings. Thus they are creatures of creation. Scripture does not tell us upon which of the six days of creation they were made. Clearly, however, they were created before God made Adam on the sixth day. Though translations of the original Hebrew differ, the following verse is believed to refer to Satan: ‘You were in Eden, the garden of God … the workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers’ Ezekiel 28:13-14a. If ‘timbrels and pipes’ is an accurate translation, then ‘the anointed cherub who covers’ took his ‘timbrels and pipes’ and began using them for something other than praising God! What influence he had on ‘Jubal … the father of all those who play the harp and flute’ (Genesis 4:21) one can only guess.
Paul calls Satan, ‘the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient’ Ephesians 2:2. Does this mean that all songs and music that do not directly praise God are under the influence of the evil one? Well, all musical compositions ought to glorify God. However, this is not to say it all must outwardly mention God. But it does mean that all music ought to be within God’s moral parameters. In other words, music ought never be used to promote evil!
Many years ago the ‘timbrels [or ‘tabrets, i.e. tambourines] and pipes’ passage was utilised by one section of the church to pushback against those who began installing organs in churches to accompany congregational singing. To this day some (i.e. Exclusive Psalmodists) believe that only items from the 150 Psalms of the Bible ought to be used in worship services – accompanied by no musical instruments whatever. Others would counter this view and advocate for inclusion of other appropriate songs with musical accompaniment by using such as the following verse (that refers to those presently in Heaven), ‘And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne’ Revelation 14:2b-3a.
And did the church shift her focus from directing worship to God when it began ‘singing the Gospel’? Are God’s people singing the Gospel vertically to God or are they singing it horizontally to their neighbour?It has been said that ‘the devil is in the detail.’ We ought to be careful that he’s not in the music too! But know that Jesus, the Mediator between God and man, is able to transform and to make perfect every flat note of praise that comes from the mouths of His people as it rises from earth and filters through Him unto ‘our Father, which art in Heaven’!