Rethinking Some Old Premises That Are Based On Amos 6:5

By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

It’s from PBC alumni that I’ve heard wrong arguments that are derived from Amos 6:5. So it is fitting that I put this reminder and caution in the PBCAA blog. I especially address the PBC alumni. Please read and analyze this article so that understanding of Amos 6:5 would improve and become correct.

There are two wrong notions related to Amos 6:5 that are used by some PBC alumni in arguing against the use of mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship that need to be corrected: (a) Some presume that the meaning of the term ”invent” in Amos 6:5 means to discover, originate and use something for the first time; and (b) By using Amos 6:5, some presume that King David, out of the presumptuousness and hardness of his heart, introduced musical instruments in the tabernacle worship just as divorce for any reason was insisted by Israel out of the hardness of their heart (Matt. 19:7-8). Both presumptions are incorrect. We shall show why.

  1. It is not true, as some believe, that the term “invent” in Amos 6:5 means “to originate, to discover something new and use it for the first time.” It is a fact that the term “invent” in Amos 6:5 is chashab in Hebrew and it means, “to think, to devise, to design” (Young’s Analytical Concordance, p. 519). Thomas Edison invented the incandescent lamp which means, there was no incandescent lamp before his time. The meaning of “invent” in the case of Edison is NOT the same meaning in the case of Amos 6:5.
  2. It is not true, as some claim, that King David was the first one to use musical instruments. Fact is that thousands of years before King David was born, Jubal and his sons played harps and flutes according to Gen. 4:21. Jubal and sons lived some 4000 years B.C.; whereas, David became king about 1010 B.C
  3. It is not true, as some claim, that Jubal’s sons’ playing the harps and flutes as stated in Gen. 4:21 was a sinful beginning act, for if it were so, then to dwell in tents and have livestock like Jabal in Gen. 4:20 would also be sinful. It would also be sinful for Tubal-cain to instruct others on the use of bronze and iron (Gen. 4:22). It was not sinful for Abraham to dwell in a tent (Gen. 18:1) and not sinful today. We use bronze and iron today and it is not sinful.
  4. It is not true, as some claim, that King David was the first to use musical instruments because hundreds of years before David was born, God Himself sounded the trumpet at Mt. Sinai in the giving of the Decalogue. Read Exodus 19:19; 20:18; Heb. 12:19. The date is about 1450 B.C.
  5. It is not true, as some claim, that King David was the first to invent and use musical instruments because some 500 years before David was born, the Levitical priests in the wilderness were commanded by God to sound the trumpets in various religious events like in the New Moon and Full Moon, over various animal offerings, on the Day of Atonement, etc. Read Num. 10:1-10; 19:1; Lev. 23:24; 1 Chron. 15:24; 2 Chron. 5:12.
  6. It is not true, as some claim, that King David’s rebellious heart caused him to invent musical instruments and used them in the tabernacle. Fact is that God commanded him to design, craft and manufacture the instruments. The palace seer, Gad, as well as the palace prophet, Nathan, approved of the making and use of the musical instruments. Or perhaps the two revealed to King David God’s commandment. Read 2 Chron. 29:25.
  7. It is not true, as some claim, that the use of musical instruments was unacceptable in David’s time because when the young David played the harp in the palace, the distressing spirit that God sent to plague King Saul would depart. Read 1 Sam. 6:14, 23.
  8. It is not true, as some claim, that the use of musical instruments in the OT was started due to David’s rebellious heart and was grudgingly allowed to be used in the tabernacle and temple, just as the Israelites were permitted by Moses to write a certificate of divorce due to the hardness of people’s heart. The parallelism is not true because the first part has no basis. I couldn’t find any verse that suggests that God grudgingly allowed musical instruments to be used in the OT.
  9. It is not true, as some claim, that musical instruments were grudgingly allowed in the tabernacle and temple worship. Fact is God personally instructed Moses to make for himself a trumpet to be used by the priests. (Read Num. 10:1-2). Miriam and the women joyously danced with their timbrels (15:20-21) in celebrating God’s deliverance. King David exultingly encouraged the use of musical instruments in praising God as in 1 Chron. 6:31; 25:7; 2 Chron. 29:27; Psalm 28:7; 33:3; 45:96; 65; 66; 67:75-76; 69:30; 83; 87; 88; 96; 98; 144:9; 149:1: 150; Isa. 42:10. Ezra, the well respected priest and scribe during the return from exile, and the priests in Jerusalem in the restoration of the wall used musical instrument to praise God in the dedication of the wall. (See Ezra 3:8-11). Nehemiah, the governor, praised God with musical instruments (Read Neh.12:35-43). No rebuke in the use of musical instruments could be found in these instances. On the other hand, divorce was never used to praise God. Fact is Malachi denounced the practice of divorce when the Israelites freely discarded their wives (2:16).

Any reactions to the items affirmed in this article are welcomed.

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