Music Selection Matters
Music is a powerful medium, an incredible communicator, and has tremendous influence over the human heart. The music we listen to and present to the Lord is important! I remember an old secular song “Music’s Gonna Get Ya.” This can be very true. Many are caught with music and they do not know what to do. To begin, let us make 4 quick observations about music:
1. Some songs are Good. For example 2 Chronicles 7:6 says: “And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.” Many various and wonderful instruments were played as people sung enthusiastically to the Lord. David was very interested in good music, music that was acceptable to the Lord and encouraging to the human heart.
2. Some songs are Evil. In Daniel 3:15 we discover that many similar instruments were used, but with the evil intention of bowing down to an idol. Some music has evil sounding connotations, violent or wicked tunes, and wrong topics in the words. Look at this verse. “Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
3. Some songs celebrate victory. The songbook of early Israel, the Book of Psalms, evidences this. The Songs of Moses and Deborah tell stories in the Old Testament. Songs of testimony are always encouraging and tell tremendous stories.
4. Some songs commemorate sad occasions. Such as Amos 8:10 “And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation…..”
Recently I found the following list on the “Hot 100” – songs at the top of the charts in the world this week (1.9.14) Here are the titles: “Timber, Counting Stars, The Monster, Royals (By Pure Heroin), Say Something, Dark Horse, Let Her Go, Wake Me Up, Wrecking Ball, Demons.”
Just by reading the titles, we can imagine the content, theme, and direction of these songs. The music we listen to has to potential to calm our hearts, or drive our emotion. Songs can glorify the Lord or pull us further away from the Lord. These are the choices made when we decide what songs we will listen to.
With these truths in mind, let us consider the topic of song selection. Our verse is Proverbs 25:20 which says: “As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.”
Here is a terrific verse with great application to the choices we make with music. A lighthearted, useless song (like these similes in the verse), or violently themed songs are what is being described in this text. Nitre was known to make suds fizzle like soda pop. It was used in the carbonation process. This is where the idea of a “violent” reaction comes in with a song. The other simile given is one of taking away a coat from a person when it is -15 out. That is cold! Taking a coat from a person on a cold day is not helpful. It is like singing the wrong song to a hurting heart. Neither a violent song nor a lighthearted song will help someone who is depressed, discouraged, or dealing with a heavy heart.
Singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” to a person who just lost a loved one will not help them. To make light of a difficult time by singing a flippant song may not help them; in fact it may offend the hurting people. You will probably not sing “BINGO” at a funeral service. Song selection matters! Choosing appropriate to the occasion music is vital in life and ministry to the Lord. Not every song is appropriate for the Christian to listen to or even sing.
When counseling with people battling depression, anxiety, or discouragement, many times I ask about what kind of music they are listening to. When King Saul had an evil, selfish spirit, David plays something soothing and encouraging on the harp and it changed Saul’s outlook for that day! When I ask many times people will say: “I do not listen to music.” Or they will talk about their favorite songs which are songs that degrade spiritual things and discourage their soul. Some people listen songs that are harmful and wonder why their spirit seems so empty. In many cases, feeding the spirit a positive sound with and meaningful words will change them for the better.
Are you ever distressed? Ever feel overwhelmed with a situation? Do you want music to help you? There is such a thing as music therapy. Music has such potential to guide a person’s thinking and even actions. Please note the following study: “In an eye-opening study, researchers have found that teenagers who listen to songs with raunchy, suggestive lyrics are more likely to lose their purity than those who do not listen to such songs. In 2001, researchers surveyed 1,461 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. Most of the participants were virgins at the beginning of the study. Between 2002 and 2004, the researchers carried out follow-up interviews and found that around 51% of teens whose music collection consisted mainly of music that degraded purity lost their purity within two years.” (From Ministry 127)
If we could have two foundational principles for song selection what would they be? Since music is built on the Treble and Bass Cleft, here are two principles to help you decide what music you will listen to or sing.
Joy Based Music. The grinding, pushing the limit tempos of Rock and much country and modern music will weary your soul. The music itself may give adrenaline to the flesh, but will leave you spiritually thirsty. The topic of many modern songs will tempt you to sin or will encourage wrong thinking. Joy based music will lift your spirit. It will gladden your countenance and encourage your soul. Joy based music will be written in a major key. The music itself will not sound dreary, painful, or discouraging. Joy based music delivers a joyful and happy melody and tune that resonates in your heart. It sounds very positive.
Jesus Based Music. This is music that exalts Jesus and magnifies the Lord. This has more to do with the topic of the song than the notes that are being played. Songs about Calvary, the Empty Tomb, Worldwide Missions, Personal Devotion, and the Church of God are all great themes for a piece of music. Jesus based music will teach you to love the Lord, your family, your church and others. Jesus based music will not contradict the Bible, but rather teach the Bible to those who hear it. Observe Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Jesus based songs teach us more of God and His Word.
Does it matter what songs you listen to? Yes it does. Music Selection Matters! May the Lord help us to tune in to these two principles of Joy Based Music and Jesus Based Music. Music can change your life.