Does the Bible forbid the use of musical instruments in church? 


By BibleAsk Team

Music and Worship

God gave mankind the ability to create and enjoy music. Praise is an important part of worship and musical instruments were used for worship in the Bible (1 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Nehemiah 12:36; Isaiah 38:20; Amos 6:5; Habakkuk 3:19). The book of Psalms especially presents many references to the use of musical instruments in praising God:

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals!“(Psalm 150: 1-5).

I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will disclose my dark saying on the harp” (Psalm 49:4).

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the Lord, the King” (Psalm 98:4-6).

Sing aloud to God our strength; make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the lute” (Psalm 81:1,2).

Musical Instruments for Church

In the Old Testament, the Bible specified three types of instruments to be used inside the Sanctuary by the Levites. These are: harp, lyre [or stringed instrument], and the cymbal (2 Chronicles 29:25; also 1 Chronicles 25:1).

Hand drums (tambourine, timbrel or tabret) were apparently NOT employed in the sanctuary service, but were used in festivals and celebrations outside of the Sanctuary (1 Samuel 10:5-6; Job 17:6; Job 21:11-14; Psalm 81:2; Isaiah 24:8; Jeremiah 31:4).

And in the New Testament, Paul encouraged singing songs: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). The phrase “Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” lays out three kinds of praise:

(1) The psalms in the Old Testament that were sung and accompanied by musical instruments. (2) The hymns that were praises to God, composed by individuals and sung by a whole group. (3) The spiritual songs that were of a more general and meditative nature, with or without musical instruments (Matthew 26:30; Acts 4:24–30; 1 Corinthians 14:26; James 5:13; Colossians 3:16).

Note that the phrase “making melody” in Greek is psallō, which means “to play a stringed instrument,” or “to sing a hymn.” So, we can conclude that using certain musical instruments was certainly part of worship services in the Bible.

Careful attention should be given to the types of instruments and beats that are to be used in worship. For melodic music appeals to the intellectual part of the soul, while the rhythm appeals to the fleshy part of the soul.  You can either attract or repel evil spirits with the type of music you use.

For example, there was an evil spirit that haunted King Saul. David would play on his harp, a stringed instrument that gives sounds of a certain melody and the distressing spirit would leave Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). So we can see that if certain music has the capacity to repel a distressing (evil) spirits away, it certainly has the capacity to attract them as well. Therefore, serious efforts should be given to the type of music listened to. All music in worship services should only promote reverence, worship, and praise to God. It should be holy, uplifting, and pure.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.