When I was a little guy, one of the biggest hits was released; The Devil Went Down to Georgia, by The Charlie Daniels Band. It was a showdown of epic proportions, man versus evil, donned with the same instruments, dueling it out to see who is the best!

While I grinded the grooves off of that record, the truth is—there is something more to music—something powerful and something spiritual.

Within the Christian culture, the one common denominator that brought more strife to modern evangelical congregations is music: variations in styles, organs or pianos, hymns or songs, stringed instruments, and drums, is it godly, does it degrade the liturgy, and/or is it secular? We could list myriads of reasons; suffice it to say, people have strong views about music. 

Not too long ago, an article was posted by Christianity Today entitled, “Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?” The article provided an argument about the validity of whether or not it is theologically correct to “feel the presence of God,” through music.

The article’s great thesis came with this statement, “There is simply no evidence whatsoever in Scripture that music mediates direct encounters or experiences with God.”

I completely disagree with the writer’s summation, but also understand what the article is presuming. 

While I understand what the writer is attempting to say, theologically speaking, I think he has missed the spiritual power of music and the Scripture provision that proves this theses wrong.

I’d like to provide a passage of Scripture that is missed everytime I hear or read about this argument. And, for the purpose of building up the body of Christ and your spiritual strength, I will confess that I believe music has the ability to bring us closer to God and feel His presence.

Let’s read this passage:

“And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” And Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the LORD came upon him.” — (2 Kings 3:13-15) 

The surrounding context from the above-mentioned Scripture (2 Kings 3) is an amazing testimony of events. They illustrate a direct encounter with the Spirit of God and the connection to music.

The prophet Elisha is summoned prior to the battle—to inquire of God as to whether the three kings (Judah, Israel, Edom) should fight a battle against Moab. Elisha’s response is unique, he orders a musician to be brought forward to play, so that “the hand of the LORD” would come upon him. Why a musician?

For a prophet who parted water, made an axe head float, and raised the dead—why—when asked about a battle against Moab—would he request a musician? Seriously? Stick with me…

For those familiar with the Bible, you may have linked Saul’s demonic oppression and David being ordered to play the lyre (guitar); several times this occurs, and the demonic spirits flee (1 Sam. 16:23).

In both cases (Elisha and David), music “plays” a significant role in spiritual warfare and the presence of holiness. To validate, when David set up his administration, he instituted the service of the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, to “prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals” (1 Chron. 25:2); thereby, attaching prophetic gifting, presence, and music. As well, the OT book of Habakkuk is written by the musical prophet, who supplies a song. 

Music has a functionality to ease the soul, a divine, “coming into the presence of God,” and receiving divine illumination—the biblical precedent is evident.

So, why would a prophet of God, like Elisha, need to have music playing? As the Scriptures state, “to feel the hand of God.” I believe in this case, the prophet knew that he was in need of “divine revelation” from God and was seeking the proper environment.

In my opinion, godly music can hold back demonic forces, as well as bring us into a holy and worshipful atmosphere of praise to our Creator. I know that worship music can change my heart, attitude, and emotions—almost instantaneously.

I have not only witnessed the power of music firsthand, but believe it’s a truthful saying. I inserted the importance of music within the attack of Moab because it was part of the context and, it seems, a viable weapon in spiritual warfare, giving presence and illumination.

Therefore, music is more than mere words and should be utilized as a form of “entering” into the greater worshipful presence of God’s Holy Spirit. Scripture is clear that God does indeed employ music for intercession.

One of my favorite verses, which I pronounce every time after the Lord’s Supper, is from Matthew 26:30. The setting is the night in which Christ will be betrayed; He knows that His soul will be in anguish as He bears the sin of the world upon Himself. I have to think their singinig brought Him some peace. The verse states, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mt 26:30). Andreas Kostenberger believes that the hymn was Psalm 118:22-23, a Jewish traditional usage from the Passover celebration:  

“The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.”[1]

I can imagine Christ singing with the disciples and what God’s voice must have sounded like—I bet it sounds like the church in glorious praise? When Jesus sang, did the angelic host join in, as they did when He was birthed?

Only the disciples and Christ know, but my point is this…those that believe music is not powerful, spiritual, or can bring the presence of God, have it very wrong. While the presence of God is always with believers—we do submit to the presence of holiness and God’s Spirit when we worship Him with humble and grateful hearts.

So, sing with all of your might, as King David danced (2 Sam 6:14). 

[1]Kostenberger, Andreas, & Taylor, Justin. 2014. The Final Days of Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.72.