The opposition to musical instruments in the Church arose during the first centuries after Christ. However, we know of no place in Scripture where the use of musical instruments in worship service is spoken against. Musical instruments were in use long before Israel ever became a nation. Early in Genesis it is recorded that Jubal “was the father of all who play the harp and flute” (Gen. 4:21 NIV).
During the time of David both musicians and singers were appointed to function regularly at worship services. The book of Psalms resounds with the music of trumpets, lyres, harps, flutes and cymbals.
Perhaps the greatest concert of music during Solomon’s reign was at the dedication of the temple, when “The Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers” played their “cymbals, harps, and lyres. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the LORD with these words: ‘He is so good! His faithful love endures forever!’”
We know that God approved this worship, for we read that at the moment when the singers sang and the trumpets sounded, “a cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their work because the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (2 Chron. 5:12-14 NLT). The Lord again showed His acceptance of this worship when, at the end of the dedication, He consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices (2 Chron. 7:1). It was His unmistakable way of expressing His pleasure.
Music instruments will honor Christ at His second advent (see Rev. 5:8-9; 14:2—3; 15:2-3). Even if the use of the trumpets by the angels is totally symbolic, it suggests the use of musical instruments in worship.
It seems likely that the early Christians limited the use of musical instruments in their worship services not because God did not approve of them but because of the imminent dangers they faced. Persecution could be expected any time, and part of the time it was severe. The persecution of the early Church is well documented in the history of the time. The following is a quotation from the Early Church Fathers regarding persecution. De Fuga advised: “Lastly, if you cannot assemble by day, you have the night …. Be content with a church of threes”-Volume 4, IX,. De Fuga In Persecutione.
The most common places of assembly and worship during the first century were homes. We have references to this situation in Paul’s writings. It is understandable that attention-drawing musical instruments may not have been used during a time when discovery meant death.
It seems only fair to acknowledge that the use of musical instruments was accepted as part of worship during Biblical times.
The acceptability of one’s worship depends on the purity and sincerity of the heart of the worshiper, not upon their instruments. There must be purpose in what we do, a purpose which includes a right attitude toward God and the best interests of our fellow beings. As Paul explained, “Whatever…you do, you must do all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 NLT).
As long as the manner of singing and playing musical instruments is not done to conform to this world (Rom. 12:2), their use in worship services should elevate and inspire the worshipers and honor and glorify God.