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There are different types of song in Scripture (2 Sam. 1:17-27)

“The book of 2 Samuel is the story of David’s reign over Israel. It was during this glorious era of redemptive history that the form of worship in Israel took on the particular form that would remain in place throughout the remainder of the Old Testament.”

“David was a gifted musician whose abilities were employed according to the Lord's will. His musical talents were used in a variety of ways.

1) The therapeutic use of music. In 1 Samuel we learn that he played on the harp in order to calm the mind of King Saul when he was troubled by an evil spirit.

2) The national/commemorative use of music. Here, at the beginning of 2 Samuel, we find David using his musical gifts to compose a song of lament in commemoration of Saul and Jonathan.

3) The use of music in worship. Later, we will find David composing songs which would take a permanent place in the public worship of God's people.

It is important to note this variety because it demonstrates the fact that there are different kinds of music and different types of songs which are appropriate for different occasions. The so-called ‘song of the bow’ recorded in the first chapter of 2 Samuel is a case in point. David commanded that this song be taught to the children of Judah. We are also told that its contents are recorded in the book of Jasher which is no longer available…

“The ‘song of the bow’ was clearly a song that the people of Israel were encouraged to learn and to sing in remembrance of Saul and Jonathan, yet unlike other songs recorded in the historical books of Scripture, it did not find a place in the authorized book of praise to be used in religious worship. From this we learn an important truth relative to our consideration of worship: that there is a place for creative expression in the form of songs which celebrate the work of God and the lives of his servants, but which are not intended for or appropriate to be used in public worship.

All songs should glorify God, but only those specifically appointed by God for that purpose are to be sung in His worship. Why is it that certain songs are appropriate for use in public worship while other songs are not? What's the big deal? Let me suggest several reasons.

1) Because of the nature of worship which is to honor and glorify God. Even those who disagree with our position regarding the exclusive use of the psalms in worship would not accept any and every song as appropriate for use in the service of worship

2) Because of the nature of song which solidifies thoughts and ideas in the heart and mind through repetition.

3) Because of the nature of man, who, left to his own devices, would soon develop a catalogue of songs which emphasized those thoughts and doctrines he found most appealing, while excluding those less palpable to his natural sensitivities.

There is a time and place for the individual expression of musical creativity to the glory of God. Music, like every other area of life, is under the dominion of Christ and should be used for His glory. But this does not mean that music should be used indiscriminately any more than any other good gift of God. When it comes to the corporate worship of God's people His words stand firm: ‘Be careful to observe what I have commanded: you shall not add to it, nor take away from it.’” (Comin, 87-89)

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