The Role Of Musical Instruments Part 2



First of all I believe it is important that we understand that it was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets that the Levites be set in the house of the Lord with instruments. In 2 Chronicles 29:25-26 it says:”And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David ,and Gad the King’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the Priests with the trumpets.

In Numbers 10 God commands Moses to make a trumpet showing us that instruments have always been on the heart of God. Actually he is the one who instituted their use as seen in these scriptures.

The first account of use of instruments is found in Genesis 15:20-21 when Miriam and other women take timbrels to dance and sing to celebrate the drowning of the Egyptians. However we know that instruments were used long before this because in Genesis 4:21 we are told of Jubal who is referred to as the Father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

They are a lot of other verses on instruments that we will never know using our English translation because as you know the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. There is a word that is translated praise or sing in our English rendering that is actually the Hebrew word Zamar and this word in simple terms talks of playing an instrument.



Zamar (zaw-mar’) is a Hebrew word which means,” to touch the strings l parts of a musical instrument i.e. play upon it, to make music accompanied by the voice, hence to celebrate in song and music:– give praise, sing forth praises, psalms

Many times in Psalms especially the word is translated praise or sing or sing psalms or sing praise or I will sing. Therefore many times we just rush through some of these scriptures and we don’t even get what the writer wanted to convey to us because the English translation is shallow. Zamar is not found in Psalms only but most of the occurrences are in Psalms. Below are verses where the word Zamar is used. These are not all the verses but will just help to enlighten you on the concept.

Judges 5:3 says,”Hear, O ye Kings; give ear, O ye princes; I even I will sing unto the Lord; I will sing (zamar) praise to the Lord God of Israel.”

2 Samuel 22:50 “Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing (zamar) praises unto thy name.”

1 Chronicles 16:9 “sing unto him, sing psalms (zamar) unto him, talk ye of all his wonderous works”

Psalm 7:17 “I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness and will sing praise (zamar) to the name of the Lord most high”

Psalm 30:4 “Sing (zamar) unto the Lord O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the rememberance of his holiness”

Psalm 47:6-7 “Sing praises (zamar) to God, sing praises (zamar): sing praises (zamar) unto our king, sing praises (zamar). For God is the king of all the earth: sing ye praises (zamar) with understanding”

Psalm 57:7 “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise (zamar)”(Also in psalm108:1)

Psalm 66:2 “Sing forth(zamar) the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.”

Psalm 66:4 “All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing(zamar) unto thee; they shall sing(zamar) to thy name”

Psalm 104:33 “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing(zamar)praise to my God while I have my being”

Psalm 105:2 “Sing unto him, sing psalms(zamar)unto him: talk ye of all his wonderous works”

Psalm 135:3 “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good: sing praises(zamar) unto his name, for it is pleasant”

Psalm 147:1 “Praise ye the Lord for it is good to sing praises(zamar) unto our God for it is pleasant and praise is comely”


There is also another Hebrew word that is connected with instruments called Zimrah (zim-raw) and it implies a musical piece or song to be accompanied by an instrument;.. Melody, psalm

In Psalm 98:5 he says, “Sing(zamar) unto the Lord with the harp, with the harp, and the voice(sound) of a psalm(Zimrah)”


This I believe is related to Zimrah. It is the Hebrew word which means instrumental music and is translated song in the English versions. We find it first in Exodus 15 after the Israelites had walked on dry land while the Egyptians where drowned when they try to do the same. In verse 2 Moses says, “The Lord is my strength and song (zimrath), and is become my salvation; he is my God and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

This word is also found in Psalm 118:14 and Isaiah 12:2 and it is translated song in the King James Version. Yes it’s a song but more precisely it is an instrumental meaning there are no voices.


In the New Testament there is ‘psallo’

This word psallo ( psa’-lo) is translated psalms in the new testament and it means:                                      To twitch or twang, i.e. to a play on a stringed instrument(celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): make melody, sing psalms.

When James in James 5:13b says ,” Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” The word psalms is the greek word psallo. So James is saying if you are happy sing a song accompanied by an instrument.


Some interesting things

We are still looking at the verses that talk about instruments. However here they are certain principles that I want us to draw from these verses as they have specific aspects they reveal concerning this ministry.


When it comes to instruments you need understanding. Psalm 47:7 says sing praises with understanding. The word translated praise is zamar. The word translated understanding is ‘sakal’. This word means to be (causatively, make or act) circumspect and hence, intelligent; — consider, expect, instruct, prosper,(deal) prudently, (give) skill(-ful), have good success, teach, (have, make to) understand(-ing) wisdom, (be, behave self, consider, make) wise(-ly), guide wittingly

So when we sing with instruments, or play instruments there has to be an understanding of keys and how you can manipulate the instruments or progression so as to produce a quality product. This is so important because I have noticed that some worship leaders just put songs in an order but not considering the different keys in which these songs will be played in and how the instrumentalists will move from one song to another. Also they are some instrumentalists who just move in different keys without even using a connecting progression and this is irritating to the ears.

The end of the matter is that you need understanding. You cannot just play or sing without an understanding of what you are doing. As such worship leaders and instrumentalists should research(study) about their instruments so that they can produce the best.



In Psalms 92:3 there is an amazing revelation concerning the quality of instrument that you play and also the sound which is produced by these instrument.  Our aim in the Kingdom is to get instruments with a “solemn” sound and the best quality. Psalm 92:3 says,” upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery, upon the harp with a solemn sound.” In modern day language I believe the psalmist is saying don’t just play any instrument, look for the best(10 strings) that produces a good sound( with a solemn sound)

In psalm 81:2 Asaph says,” Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.” There is the pleasant harp which means there is also an unpleasant harp. Asaph just didn’t want any harp, he wanted the pleasant harp. Don’t just buy any instrument ,get the best. Even if you don’t have a lot of money you can get the best out of the money that you have because most of the times pastors/deacons just buy any instrument but then the sound of that instrument might not be suitable for a service or might be poor quality. Also in buying things like drum skins and cymbals you might be buying a product that won’t even last for a month. Get the best, don’t just settle for anything.

it is a sad thing when a pastor/leader that has no knowledge of instruments just goes and buys instruments without consulting those who can play the instruments for what would be the best model and the alternatives they can work with considering the circumstances and finances of the church. Listen to me pastors/leaders: be humble enough to ask for advice in areas where you are ignorant or have little knowledge( proverbs 24:6)


  • The more the merrier!

1 Chronicles 23:5 lets us know that Israel had a band of 4000 people! Now when I read this I was dumb folded. David says 4000 praised the Lord with the instruments which I made to praise therewith. When you have a lot of instruments and instrumentalists it improves the quality of your music and you produce a better quality product. So don’t be just content with one keyboard, two electric guitars, one acoustic and a drum( others even have less). Seek more things. Get a violin, trumpets, tambourines and all that you can add to MAKE HIS PRAISE GLORIOUS.


  • You need to change your instruments after some time.

In  1 Kings 10:12it tells us that,” And the King made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.” Now you are wondering how this verse relates to what I’m talking about. We know that 1 Chronicles 23:5 lets us know that David made instruments now 20 years later these instruments could no longer be used since they were no longer efficient and that’s why Solomon had to have other instruments made.

After a reasonable time the church needs to buy new equipment because the equipment they will be using will have grown archaic(old). We want to produce the best and for us to produce the best we have to have the best.

Musical instruments 2