Eliminate Your Bad Hermeneutics – Amos 5:23 on Instrumental Music in Worship

Another failure in hermeneutics which is being passed on to the younger generation is the use of Amos 5:23 as a proof text to condemn the use of instrumental music in worship. It reads, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” (NJKV)

I reiterate my appeal to Bible College golden ager teachers to STOP citing Amos 5:23 as a support in the discussion of musical instrument of music in Christian worship. It is not supported by the context, not supported by correct grammar, not supported by common sense.

Please note that the first part of the verse rejects songs and yet those who use the verse are teachers of music in their Bible school. You condemn yourselves in your use of the verse. If you use the second part of the verse to put away stringed instruments, use also the first part of the verse to put away your singing. If not,  why not?

Chapter 5 contains the judgment against Israel. Chapter 4 sets forth the sins and failures and transgressions of Israel starting with 4:1 which are cruelty to the poor, widespread drunkenness even among the women folk.

The language of rejection in Amos 5:21-24 is called “Relative Negation.”  The figurative language term is called “lethotes.” It is a figure of speech like simile and metaphor. Many of our Bible teachers don’t even know what lethotes is. You should start teaching about lethotes in your classes. Relative negation is employed very clearly in Isaiah 1:10-17. Items that are commanded  in the Law are rejected by God because of the rottenness of the heart as seen in Isaiah 1:4-9 and 21-31. God doesn’t countenance hypocrisy.

Relative Negation is the explanation of 1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…”   The death, burial and resurrection of the CHRIST for sin is the gospel. The gospel is the basis of our salvation says 1 Cor. 15:2-4.There are many verses that command believers to be baptized. If 1 Cor 1:17 is not a lethotes, then the NT would be contradictory about the ordinance of baptism. This same line of reasoning on lethotes should be used in Amos 5:23 in order to avoid contradiction.

(Eusebio Tanicala)