And invent to themselves instruments of music, like David - See the note on 1 Chronicles 23:5; and see especially the note on 2 Chronicles 29:25; (note). I believe that David was not authorized by the Lord to introduce that multitude of musical instruments into the Divine worship of which we read, and I am satisfied that his conduct in this respect is most solemnly reprehended by this prophet; and I farther believe that the use of such instruments of music, in the Christian Church, is without the sanction and against the will of God; that they are subversive of the spirit of true devotion, and that they are sinful. If there was a wo to them who invented instruments of music, as did David under the law, is there no wo, no curse to them who invent them, and introduce them into the worship of God in the Christian Church? I am an old man, and an old minister; and I here declare that I never knew them productive of any good in the worship of God; and have had reason to believe that they were productive of much evil. Music, as a science, I esteem and admire: but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music; and here I register my protest against all such corruptions in the worship of the Author of Christianity. The late venerable and most eminent divine, the Revelation John Wesley, who was a lover of music, and an elegant poet, when asked his opinion of instruments of music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists said, in his terse and powerful manner, "I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither Heard nor Seen." I say the same, though I think the expense of purchase had better be spared.
The word הפרטים happoretim, which we render chant, and the margin quaver, signifies to dance, to skip, etc. In the sight of such a text, fiddlers, drummers, waltzers, etc., may well tremble, who perform to excite detestable passions.
That chant to the voice of the lyre - Accompanying “the voice of the lyre” with the human voice; giving vocal expression and utterance to what the instrumental music spoke without words. The word, which Amos alone uses in this one place, describes probably a hurried flow of unmeaning, unconsidered words, in which the rhythm of words and music was everything, the sense, nothing; much like most glees.
The English margin “quaver” has also some foundation in the root, but does not suit the idiom so well, which expresses that the act was something done “to the voice of the lyre,” accompanying the music, not altering the music itself. In fact, they would go together. An artificial, effeminate music which should relax the soul, frittering the melody, and displacing the power and majesty of divine harmony by tricks of art, and giddy, thoughtless, heartless, soulless versifying would be meet company. Debased music is a mark of a nation‘s decay, and promotes it. The Hebrew music seems to have been very simple; and singing appears to have been reserved almost exclusively for solemn occasions, the temple-service, or the greeting of victory 1 Samuel 18:7. “Singing men and singing women” were part of the state of David and Solomon 2 Samuel 19:35; Ecclesiastes 2:8. Else the music at the feasts of the rich appears rather to be mentioned with blame Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 24:9. Songs they had Proverbs 25:20; but the songs, for which the Hebrew exiles were celebrated, and which their Babylonian masters required them to sing, “the songs of Zion” Psalm 137:3-4, were the hymns of the temple, “the Lord‘s song.”
And invent to themselves instruments of music - The same pains, which David employed on music to the honor of God, they employed on their light, enervating unmeaningful music, and, if they were in earnest enough, justified their inventions by the example of David. Much as people have justified our degraded, sensualizing, immodest dancing, by the religious dancing of Holy Scripture! The word can mean no other than devised. David then did “devise” and “invent” instruments of music for the service of God. He introduced into the temple-service the use of the stringed instruments, the “kinnor,” (the “lyre”) and the “nebel” (the “harp”) in addition to the cymbals. Whence these, in contrast with the trumpets, are called “the instruments of David” (2 Chronicles 29:26, compare 2 Chronicles 29:25, and 1 Chronicles 15:16, 1 Chronicles 15:19-21, 1 Chronicles 15:24). Probably, in adapting them to the temple-service, he, in some way, improved the existing instrument; having been, in early youth, remarkable for his skill upon the harp 1 Samuel 16:16, 1 Samuel 16:18, 1 Samuel 16:23. As he elevated the character and powers of the, perhaps rude, instrument which he found, and suited it to the service of God, so these people refined it doubtless, as they thought, and suited it for the service of luxury and sensuality. But what harm, they thought, in amending the music of their day, since so did David?
“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion.... Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.” Te 53.1
“Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.” Te 53.2
These words of warning and command are pointed and decided. Let those in positions of public trust take heed lest through wine and strong drink they forget the law, and pervert judgment. Rulers and judges should ever be in a condition to fulfill the instruction of the Lord: “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” Te 53.3
The Lord God of heaven ruleth. He alone is above all authority, over all kings and rulers. The Lord has given special directions in His word in reference to the use of wine and strong drink. He has forbidden their use, and enforced His prohibitions with strong warnings and threatenings. But His forbidding the use of intoxicating beverages is not an exercise of arbitrary authority. He seeks to restrain men, in order that they may escape from the evil results of indulgence in wine and strong drink. Degradation, cruelty, wretchedness, and strife follow as the natural results of intemperance. God has pointed out the consequences of following this course of evil. This He has done that there may not be a perversion of His laws, and that men may be spared the widespread misery resulting from the course of evil men who, for the sake of gain, sell maddening intoxicants.—Drunkenness and Crime, pages 4-6. Te 53.4Read in context »