May 29, 2015

Music and prophesy

1 Chronicles 24:1–25:31; 2 Timothy 3:10–17; Psalm 89:1–22

Today’s OT reading says something I’ve never noticed before (probably because I’ve too often scanned all the genealogies, names, and lists in Chronicles?) I’ve underlined the words that surprised me . . .

“David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction 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 the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 25:1–3)

The first one is a noun: prophet. The other two are verbs. The middle one says this was done under the direction of the king, and since David represents the Messiah, this is not a surprise. What surprised me is that the prophets used musical instruments to do it.

Most of us associate prophesy with predicting the future, but this word actually means ‘a message from God.’ It could be a prediction, but also could be His direction, or a statement of His standards. In this passage, He says that He can give that message through music. For that reason, it pays to pay attention while we sing those hymns and choruses; God could be speaking!

God certainly speaks through His Word also. The NT reading contains these well-know words, favorites of mine: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

I particularly love Christian music that uses Bible verses. I’ve even marked a musical symbol beside the verses I recognize as part of our current worship songs. Those verses, as this passage says, are messages from God. He teaches what I need to know, rebukes me for not heeding what I’ve been taught, corrects to help me know what to do instead of my mistakes, and instructs me in right living. While this comes primarily through the Word of God, it can come through the words of others, including my pastor, and even through music!

Besides hearing God speak, today’s music and the music of the OT gives me opportunity to praise Him. Today’s reading from the psalms, like most of them, is rich in praise. The psalmist lifts up the qualities of God that he appreciates . . .

“You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.” (Psalm 89:13–16)

I’m blessed to read what happens to those who stay close to God in obedience and praise; we are blessed and because of having His righteousness, we are exalted!

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