The Role of Music in Worship

Music and Preaching Should Complement Each Other

Worship and music are as essential to each other as worship and preaching. It seems there is always tension between time dedicated to music and time dedicated to preaching. In our world today, preaching is being shoved into a smaller and smaller time constraint while it seems the services are filled with what amounts to little more than an emotional rock concert. The truth is, preaching and Christ-honoring music are not adversaries; they are brothers in worship. Recently I read 1 Chronicles 25, and I was amazed at just how great an emphasis God placed on the ministry of music in the service of the tabernacle and the temple.

1 Chronicles 25:1–6 tells us David selected three men; Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to organize and lead the music in public services. In that same passage, we are told that these men had between them twenty-four sons, who they then led in the ministry of music. Each of them had specific responsibilities in both instrumentation and voice, and they led an army of musicians.

“Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.” 1 Chronicles 23:5

Four thousand people were dedicated to the ministry of music for the worship of Israel. I believe the Lord was very serious about music in worship.

As important as that is to know, what really caused me to take note was how the Lord described their ministry in 1 Chronicles 25:2–3: “Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.”

Note the words that I emphasized; they used their instruments and voices to prophesy. Now they did not preach, but their music had a message that gave thanks and brought praise to the Lord. How wonderful it is when music in our services is not done as a performance to highlight the talent of the musician but as a message about the glory of our God. We need to be so careful that music, the lyrics, and the musician have as their goal to praise God. In so doing, those that hear the music are made ready to receive the Word that will be preached. Music and preaching are not in competition in worship; they are complementary to each other and allow for Christ-honoring worship.

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