Jump Start # 2111
Daniel 3:5 “that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up”
Our verse today comes from that famous account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace. We’ve told this story dozens of times in children’s Bible classes and it has been used in VBS over and over. It’s the story of faith, conviction and confidence in the Lord. Away from home, compelled to turn into Babylonians, these Jewish captives remain true to their core beliefs. They will not compromise. They will not succumb to the pressures around them. Every parent hopes that their child away in a college dorm would have just half of this qualities running through them. It is inspiring to see young people having incredible faith.
Leading up to this grand event, is where our verse fits in. Nebuchadnezzar has assembled just about everyone. The list is a who’s who of important and prominent people in the kingdom. The worship of the golden image was about to take place. And introducing all of this was an orchestra of music. All of this was calculated, planned and coordinated. This pagan king understood the value of music in worship. Don’t get hung up on the instruments, look at the principle of music. Music was the key part of everyone bowing down. “At the moment you hear…” is the order of events. The music starts and everyone bows. That was the plan.
Have you ever noticed how music is a huge part of life. Every school has it’s own fight song. Get a group of guys together on a Saturday afternoon to watch a football game, and as soon as one team’s fight song begins, the conversations stop and someone breaks into singing it. You remember the movie, Jaws, and those certain musical notes played whenever the shark was about to strike. John Williams has become a household name because of his numerous movie scores that helped bring the movie to life. Gathered at the cemetery, and off in the distance a lone soldier plays taps on his trumpet, and the crowd becomes still and silent. Music surrounds grand events. What’s a wedding without music. There are certain hymns that takes us back to a funeral of a grandparent. Music at funerals.
This Babylonian king understood the importance of music and worship. He didn’t just give a command to bow, but at the moment you hear the sound, that’s when everything was to take place. There were six specific types of instruments listed along with the generic “all kinds of music.” This wasn’t one note blown on a horn. This wasn’t one guy beating a drum. This was a brilliant piece of orchestrated music. The king knew. Music and worship is important.
In the N.T., the examples we find are of singing. God never commanded playing instruments in the N.T. Music histories consistently tell us that instruments were not used in the church for the first thousand years. Bringing in the band as part of our worship today is foreign to what those early Christians practiced. This is an important point to grasp and practice. If we are trying to be like the originals, then horns, guitars, drums, pianos, are going to have to be left at the door. Many sermons have been preached and ought to be preached on getting this right. It does matter.
However, too often, that’s the extent of what we do with music. We show what we don’t do and why we don’t do it, but we don’t emphasize what we ought to do. And, that is, sing passionately to the Lord. Singing hymns isn’t filler. It isn’t something to build up to the sermon. It isn’t the time to gather book bags, put on jackets and get ready to leave. But the way some conduct themselves you’d think otherwise. I’ve seen song leaders walking to the podium, flipping through a song book, trying to pick out a song before they get up there. That shows little time and little planning and little effort went into the preparation of songs.
If music makes the movie and if a Babylonian king understood that music was a central and key part of introducing his idol, you’d think we would plan better and put more attention into our praising of God in song. Here are a few suggestions:
Theme a worship service by connecting the sermon, table talk for the Lord’s Supper and the hymns all together. This means the song leader and the preacher must have a conversation before they walk into the building on Sunday morning. Some sermons are hard to match with a song. But many would help us to tie into the forgiveness, grace and love of the Lord.
Do not use Sunday worship as a testing period to see who has ability to lead singing. Let’s be honest here. Some can’t lead singing. Some can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Point to a note in a song book and some have no clue what that note is. This is not being mean, this is reality. I’d be first to stand in that line. If I led singing, grown men would cry, and not because it was pretty. I love music. I have married an extremely talented musician. I have season tickets to the symphony. However, I’d be a disaster if I had to lead singing. Let me preach, I can do that. Some guys have all heart but no talent. Bless their heart, as they say in Texas, they just can’t lead singing. And using the worship of God to find that out isn’t the best avenue. Praise to God ought to include doing our best that we can. God has given us His best so it only makes sense that we offer to Him our best.
Floating new songs during a special meeting also isn’t a good idea. Get the congregation to learn new songs during other occasions. When the house is filled with guests, lead songs that everyone knows. Fill the room with sweet songs of the heart.
Many places have recognized what this ole’ Babylonian king understood, the value of music in worship. Some have worship teams and special song directors that are devoted to bringing out the best for God. Some of those measures may be extreme and without Biblical example, however it illustrates a keen understanding of how important music and worship are. Maybe it’s time we understood that as well. Finding songs that fit the occasion and getting folks to lift their voices and understanding that God is not only praised but pleased with the offering of our hearts ought to help us take our singing to the next level.
Days long gone, preachers used to travel with their own song leader. They would go from place to place. The song leader would robustly lead the singing and the preacher would passionately tell the story of Jesus. Have you ever wondered why those preachers took along their own song leaders? They understood the importance of music and worship. Putting an audience to sleep before the preacher gets in the pulpit isn’t kind, thoughtful, respectful, nor giving God our all.
Sing to me of Heaven…great thought, great hymn and great hope.