“What Can I Sing With?”

A big point of contention among Christians is the use of instruments as we worship God. What can we sing with?  Can we use instruments in our worship to God?  When I was 5 years old, my parents registered me in the Music Conservatory of La Esperanza, in Cuba, to learn piano. A few years later, I decided that I would much rather learn violin and my brother Josue and I took violin classes for many years. It was never my parents’ intention for my brother and I to become professional violinists.  The only reason we learned to play instruments was to praise God and to accompany God’s people as they worshipped God in church. So is it OK to praise God with instruments? Does the Bible prohibit the use of any instrument for worship? Is any type of instrument forbidden by God in the Bible? Does God accept a worship which includes musical instruments?

“David said, “Of these, twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work of the temple of the LORD and six thousand are to be officials and judges. Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the LORD with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.” (I Chronicles 23: 4 & 5)

“All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
“He is good; his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.” (II Chronicles 5:12-14)

In the Bible musical instruments are used to worship God. Strings, winds, and percussion instruments are mentioned through the Bible as a very important part of worship to God. I have looked but have not seen a passage in the Bible where the use of instruments, any type of instrument is prohibited; on the contrary it seems to be encouraged. I even realized that during the Second Coming of Jesus, instruments will be used to resurrect those who wait for Jesus in their graves: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (I Thessalonians 4:16)

One of my favorite authors, Ellen G. White, wrote the following: “…The use of musical instruments is not at all objectionable. They were used in religious services in ancient times…” (Letter 132, 1898) Through her writings she encouraged the use of instruments, always reminding us to use them appropriately for the glory of God. In the Review & Herald, she added: “I am glad to hear the musical instruments that you have here. God wants us to have them. He wants us to praise Him with heart and soul and voice, magnifying His name before the world.” (June 15, 1905.)

There are no instruments that are inherently bad, it all depends what you use them for.  If you use a harp, a cymbal, a violin, a piano, a trumpet, or a drum to bring attention to yourself or to praise someone else other than God, that is bad. If you use a harp, a cymbal, a violin, a piano, a trumpet, or a drum to praise God, it is awesome and reverent and good, and you better believe it, His presence will fill the place. 

Prayer: Lord, it is awesome that You want us to praise You with our voices as well as our instruments. On occasions I have felt a bit uncomfortable with the use of some instruments, since I am not use to seeing them in worship. I ask you, please, help me to understand that is not about me or my tradition, it is about praising You with any talent we have. Help me to enjoy the singing and instrumental praise as I worship you.  AMEN