Praise Him with trumpet blast; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with flute and strings. Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals (Psalm 150 vv. 3-5).
We are to praise Yahweh with every kind of musical form and instrument available!
In ancient times great national feasts and sacred occasions were ushered in by the fanfare of the trumpet (2 Chron. 5:1-14). These trumpets were most likely rams’ horns, primitive versions of modern valve trumpets and flugelhorns (Ps. 150:3). David’s harp was also a simple instrument, which he played sensitively and gloriously, but was not a modern-day pedal harp.
Timbrels (tambourines), strings, and flutes are mentioned as vehicles of praise in verse 4. Joyous celebrations of victory were marked by the use of these instruments accompanied with dancing (149:3). Dancing was an integral part of Hebrew worship. Miriam danced to the tambourine (Exod. 15:20-21). So also did the women who greeted Saul and David in their moments of victorious celebration (1 Sam. 18:6-7). King David was so elated by the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem that he broke into dancing (2 Sam. 6:14-16). Because of the influence of asceticism, many today feel that any movement of the body to music is evil. However, liturgical dance is certainly biblical, and the body is to be a reflector of his grace.
In verse 5, clashing cymbals are mentioned. In fact, Asaph, one of the premiere musicians in ancient Israel, was a cymbal player (1 Chron. 15:19). So we see that every kind of instrument, form, and sound is called upon to praise God—solemn and festive, percussive and melodic, gentle and strident, dissonant and consonant, fast and slow, stirring and meditative.
The church is just beginning to take advantage of the technological revolution—synthesizers, digital recording techniques, etc. Our challenge is to praise the Lord with our whole being and with every instrument at our disposal. We are to take the old-fashioned message of the gospel and translate it into the language of today. Luther did it in the sixteenth century. Sankey did it in the nineteenth century. Rodeheaver did it in the early twentieth century. Let us follow in their footsteps and in the steps of David, that greatest musician of the ancient world!
Dear Lord, help me to praise you with my whole being—heart, soul, mind, and body— and with all the instrumental forms, sounds, and inventions available to me.