Can we PROPHECY using our MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS?
April 30 Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles Chapters 25-27
"Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals. And the number of the skilled men performing their service was: Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah; the sons of Asaph were under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the Lord." (1 Chron. 25:1-3)
The Bible displays many evidences to prove the fact that music fills the courts of heaven as the angelic beings praise God using musical instruments at all times. The twenty-four elders who sit around the throne of God have harps with them (Rev. 5:8). Also, those victorious over the beast will have harps given to them by God (Rev. 15:2). Apostle John heard a sound from heaven that sounded like rushing water, thunder and harpists playing their harps, and he described his heavenly experience in these words: "And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps" (Rev. 14:2).
When God created the world, the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:7). God created man in His own image to be an instrument of praise for Him, and He gave humans the ability to sing and to make music with musical instruments, especially as part of their worship of God. This may be the reason why music was an important part of the worship service at the temple in Jerusalem. A beautiful temple was a waste of money unless ministry was offered continuously for the glory of God. So, before he died, King David organized the temple workers and put them under proper leadership so that everything was “done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Through his organization, King David designated certain groups from within the Levitical tribes to be temple musicians and singers who offered their praises to God through music. In fact, musicians played an important role in David’s administration, since worship had a high priority for David as he was himself a skilled musician (1 Sam. 16:14-23; 2 Sam. 22:1). David had a real gift of music, and he played soothing harp music to King Saul even as a young boy. When he became the king of Israel, he commissioned most of the instruments and songs for the temple services as well as wrote most of the songs in the book of Psalms. So, the musicians who played and sang were more than just musicians - they were leaders who prophesied through song (v. 1).
During the time of King David, some 4000 Levites were designated for the temple services (23:5). Since music was so central to temple worship, King David appointed the singers and musicians belonging to the tribe of Levi to perform their sacred service for God. In particular, these were the sons of Asaph (v. 2), Jeduthun (v. 3), and Heman (vv. 4, 5) along with 288 men who were appointed to sing accompanied by cymbals, stringed instruments, and harps (vv. 6, 7). They participated according to a rotating schedule similar to that which regulated the ministries of the priests and Levites (v. 8). The role of music was to be a prophetic device, since the meaning of ‘prophesy’ in this context was to ‘proclaim’ or ‘praise’ (Num. 11:25), and everything was done according to divine command through the prophets Gad and Nathan (29:25).
We should understand that the role of a prophet was not limited to prediction or proclamation in words, and any divinely authorized utterance from a prophet was a form of prophesying. In this context, vocal and instrumental music could be a kind of prophetic message, usually in the form of praise (see 1 Sam. 10:5, 6; 2 Kings 3:15). So these musicians would declare the word of God with praise and thanksgiving (25: 3) through the medium of music. They were gifted and called to proclaim God’s message to His people through song and music. They either spoke or sang prophecies while playing, or, their playing the instruments themselves were prophetical since the music that they played was a response of God’s heart expressed to the people.
When we are intimate to God, we too can prophecy using our musical instruments! In the New Testament, the word ‘prophecy’ is used more in the context of ‘forth-telling’ than ‘fore-telling’, which is prevalent in the Old Testament. When we declare the oracles of God through song and music, we too are declaring prophecies that are meant to glorify God alone. Today, let us sing and make "melody in our heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:19-20).