Dance, song, and instrument in giving praises to God

acoustic-15598_640Psalm 149:3: Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

Dance

Dance is an expression of joy, but beyond that, in the context of God, it is the expression of joy in worship. God delights in the praises of his people (Psalm 67). When God did the miracle of the parting of the red sea, Moses composed a song to commemorate the day (Exodus 14:1-15:21). Miriam his sister led a band of women to sing and dance with tambourine.

If you were there when God wrought such a mighty deliverance for them, you will also dance; you will not be able to contain yourself.

Just a few hours before then they were facing imminent death and destruction of the entire nation; they were in such a tight corner.

There was the red sea in front of them and the army of Pharaoh, charging down on horses and chariot behind them, with the vehemence of those who have just lost their firstborns and suffered the pillaging of their land through a series of destructive plagues.

They were coming with the vengeance of former slave-owners who felt disgraced that the slave had left just like that. However, God was on the side of the former slaves and saved them. Instead of the children of Israel being swallowed up in the sea, it was the bodies of their former landlords found a permanent residence under the sea. It was the classic case of reversal of fortune. They decided to expression there joy with dancing, instruments of making music (tambourine) and melody.

In all cultures, there is one form of dance or the other; it’s in our DNAs, maybe a yet-to-be-discovered gene. It came from the Garden of Eden not from the pit of hell.

Song

These are words set in melodic vocal forms. It is an expression that rises from deep within us because melody does not just communicate the intellectual, in the mind, it communicates the emotion.

God made us as emotional being and in music, with melody we get to invest our emotions in his worship. A song does not serve its purpose if the singer does not express emotion. If music is expressed as mere ritual, mere part of a religious event, a mere passing of the time, removed from the meaning of the song, then it cannot pass for worship. Words are meant to make meaning, and with melody they get to make double meaning- both intellectual and emotional. Words of music get to be part of the spiritual outflow as human beings, as we ascribe honour to God.

Music, melody is about creativity. When we worship God via melody, it is not just a verbal event, it is offering back to God the gift of creativity he puts in us. It is glorifying God what the ability he has given us, the ability to produce music. No matter how crude we do it, it is a special outflow from the heart. It is part of worshipping God with everything. We have a voice and the ability to make music, so why not express God’s praise in melody?

Man was made with the ability to make music, when man fell, that ability became compromised, and now it is used in the service of self and/or the devil.

Instrument

While dancing is worship expressed in physical motion, and melody is worship expressed in the motion of the vocal cord, instrument represents material expression of worship. It is the use of what is outside of us, to glorify him. The bible says: let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150) and we also read, praise the Lord with instruments (Psalm 33:2).

One instrument is the clap of your hand. Your hands do not articulate intermingled with words but they hail God anyway. Clap your hands all ye people, shout to God with a voice of triumph, the bible says (Psalm 47:1).

The hands communicates what they dance steps cannot, the dance steps communicates what the song cannot, the song communicates something that the instrument does not, and the instrument communicates what none of the others can.

In the time of praise, everything comes to play. It is time to clap, dance, sing, shout, clap the hands, and play the instrument.

A limited view of the instrument will cast the church as an outdated community, a kill-joy, of anti-fun, regarding all enjoyment and pleasure as inherently evil. Good music is fun, great instrument and sound is fun. But it will be empty fun (bondage fun) without the centrality of Christ.

However, there should be no limit put on the expression of praise to God. Do not tell me I should not dance as if the devil invented dancing The devil did not invent anything, God is the origin of all creativity; do not tell me I should not play a certain instrument, when the ultimate copyright, God has.

These things are instruments of joy and why should the experience of the presence of God in the church be devoid of joy when the bible says: in the presence of joy there is fullness of joy, and his right hand pleasures forever more (Proverbs 16:11)?

There is no alignment with truth when certain instruments are banned from the church. It builds the holier-than-thou spirit in the people; it communicates a parochial, limited, jaundiced view of God and his ways. It is the entrenchment of human rule over the ways of God, it is God made in the shape of human sensibility.

The church should not hide behind spirituality and step away from certain instruments or style of music or dance steps (except those with sexual connotation).

Jesus said we should occupy till he comes (Luke 19:13), and that includes occupying the musical instruments, embracing and even pioneering musical technology, coming up with inventions, and nurturing the musical talents.

We can no longer afford to abandon our talented ones, nurture them form the cradle and then have them picked up by the world system, where the musical content is about self, sin and sadness. Our own content is about our saviour, service and spirituality.

Our interest must be the life of the musician, who stands on the high place of musical worship to God. The life is more important that the flow. If the flow is not emanating from the life of holiness and strong private devotion to God, it is emptiness; it is vanity and vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

 

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