Does the Bible forbid the use of musical instruments during church service? 

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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 (Psalm 150: 1-5; 49:4; Psalm 57:7; 81:1,2; Psalm 98:1-7).

In the OT, 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 NT, Paul encourages 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 OT 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 Cor. 14:26; James 5:13; Col. 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.

On a different note, care should be given as to what types of instruments and beats to use in worship. You can either attract or repel evil spirits with music. 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 beat, and the distressing spirit would leave Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). If certain music has the capacity to repel a distressing (evil) spirits away, it certainly has the capacity to attract them as well. Therefore, much care should be given as to the type of music listened to. All music in worship services should only promote reverence to God.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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