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. (1 Chronicles 25:1, ESV)
I’m not writing about spontaneous improvisation, though I think it’s a valid form of worship. Rather, I’m focusing on how music “prophesies.” To “prophesy,” according to Strong’s Concordance (#5012 in the Hebrew lexicon) is “Naba”, meaning “to speak or sing by inspiration.” In a sense, secular music also “prophesies” when it’s inspired (as opposed to “churned out”). The musicians King David appointed to worship God had a divine mandate—“to give thanks and praise to the Lord” (I Chron. 25:4). This requires divine inspiration.
Add to Christ’s Influence
Furthermore, 1 Chronicles 25 identifies one of the musicians—Heman—as “the king’s seer in the words of God, to exalt his horn” (verse 5)—i.e., to increase King David’s (and/or God’s) power and influence. If we rightly understand David was a prefigure of Christ, then this implies our giving thanks and praise to Jesus increases his power and influence over those who worship him, and it increases their power and influence as well
To be a “seer” is another interesting Hebrew term, Chozeh, derived from a word meaning “to gaze at, mentally perceive, contemplate, to have a vision of, to behold” (Strong’s #2372). Arguably, music ministry is most effective when it enlists all its tools to make God and his Word more accessible to worshipers. Perhaps this is what Paul had in mind when he admonished us in Colossians 3:16 to “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.”
A New Testament understanding of “prophecy” includes such things as proclaiming, declaring, revealing, and predicting. There are worship songs that do these things—think of the Gaithers’ “The King Is Coming,” or Robin Mark’s “Days of Elijah”; think of Himmie Gustafson’s “I Hear a Sound”… the list goes on and on.
True prophetic words from God are firm (2 Pet 1:19) and universally applicable, but don’t forget they were tailored for an actual audience. When music ministers proclaim the praises and verities of God to a worshiping congregation, they’re standing in a high and holy place whose previous occupants included people like Isaiah and Jeremiah, not to mention David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. Think about that as you lead your congregation in worship.
Ray Andrews currently serves as senior pastor of Romans Eight Church in Fort Worth, Texas, after having been music pastor there for 30 years. His involvement with music ministry spans five decades in many areas, such as composing, arranging, recording, vocal and instrumental performance, and teaching. Contact him at [email protected].