What Do Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, and 15 Reveal about Worship Music?

The Spirit inspired Daniel to write four lengthy statements about the musical instruments played prior to the worship of the golden image that king Nebuchadnezzar made:

Dan. 3:5 That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

Dan. 3:7 Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.

Dan. 3:10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:

Dan. 3:15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

What do these verses reveal about worship music?

These verses do not reveal anything about worship music because they are not about worship music.
56% (5 votes)
These verses only reveal the use of instruments as a signal for worship music.
22% (2 votes)
These verses reveal truths about the nature of the music played as a signal for worship.
0% (0 votes)
These verses reveal truths about worship music that was not used just as a signal for worship.
22% (2 votes)
Total votes: 9
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There are 14 Comments

RajeshG's picture

By my count, there are nearly 200 verses in Scripture that speak explicitly either about musical instruments or musicians or both. Remarkably, there are only 4 verses in Scripture that explicitly reveal to us anything about the use of musical instruments by evil people in an explicitly stated context of false worship.

All 4 of those verses are in Daniel 3. That means that the Spirit has intentionally limited what He has chosen to reveal explicitly about what evil people do on musical instruments in false worship to be only in that one chapter in Scripture!

Bert Perry's picture

Got to love the name "sackbut" for the pipes.  My kids thought it was hilarious when we went through this passage when their brother was in diapers for obvious reasons, and it's just one of hundreds of "false friends" in the KJV that illustrates how KJVO theology is a dead end for evangelism and sanctification in our society.

To the passage itself, when it's viewed in context in Scripture, it's a powerful argument against Garlockian guilt by association fallacies.  After all, Daniel and/or his scribes would have recorded this knowing full well that Psalms 149 and 150 command the use of the same basic instruments for music at the temple, and that those compiling the Chronicles were naming (1 Chronicles 25) those instruments and the names/families of those who would play them in the temple Ezra was building.  It would have been these instrumental families that Christ Himself would have heard as He visited the Temple, and it would have been these exact same families of instruments that He would have heard as he walked past the pagan temples He would have seen on his travels through Roman controlled areas, as well as Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7).

In short, for both the praise of God and the service of demons, the exact same families of instruments were used.  It is a fool who claims that guilt by association fallacies should bind the consciences of believers in clear contradiction to the examples of Daniel and Christ.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

By my count, Daniel 3 has more occurrences of a verb for worship in various forms than any other chapter of Scripture. This aspect of the passage underscores the importance of the passage for a fully developed theology of false worship that is properly based on all that has been revealed about it in Scripture.

RajeshG's picture

Researching what many commentators have to say about Daniel 3, I have compiled more than a dozen commentators who say that there was music used on this occasion in the worship of the image. For example,

Warren Wiersbe, "Be Resolute," on Daniel 3:

Nebuchadnezzar was wise to use instrumental music because it could stir the people’s emotions and make it easy for him to manipulate them and win their submission and obedience. Throughout history, music and song have played an important role in strengthening nationalism, motivating conquest, and inspiring people to act. Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets. The English poet William Congreave wrote that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” but music also has power to release the savage in the breast. Music can be used as a wonderful tool and treasure from the Lord or as a destructive weapon from Satan.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Researching what many commentators have to say about Daniel 3, I have compiled more than a dozen commentators who say that there was music used on this occasion in the worship of the image. For example,

Warren Wiersbe, "Be Resolute," on Daniel 3:

Nebuchadnezzar was wise to use instrumental music because it could stir the people’s emotions and make it easy for him to manipulate them and win their submission and obedience. Throughout history, music and song have played an important role in strengthening nationalism, motivating conquest, and inspiring people to act. Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets. The English poet William Congreave wrote that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” but music also has power to release the savage in the breast. Music can be used as a wonderful tool and treasure from the Lord or as a destructive weapon from Satan.

I think there is a bit of hyperbole in this sentence from Wiersbe - "Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets." If this were actually true, someone could make a fortune selling Go-Clean-Your-Room music to parents.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

I think there is a bit of hyperbole in this sentence from Wiersbe - "Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets." If this were actually true, someone could make a fortune selling Go-Clean-Your-Room music to parents.

Maybe his view is that there is certain music that only has the power to make people do evil things but not something of the nature that you mention. In any case, he is representative of many commentators who believe that the passage is revelation about music used in worship.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

I think there is a bit of hyperbole in this sentence from Wiersbe - "Music has the power so to grip human thoughts and emotions that people are transformed from being free agents into becoming mere puppets." If this were actually true, someone could make a fortune selling Go-Clean-Your-Room music to parents.

 

 

Maybe his view is that there is certain music that only has the power to make people do evil things but not something of the nature that you mention.

I still think that would be hyperbole. People are responsible for their own actions. Music doesn't MAKE someone do evil things.

Quote:
In any case, he is representative of many commentators who believe that the passage is revelation about music used in worship.
Well, of course commentators would believe that, since the passage explicitly states that music was being used in worship. Daniel 3:5 says  "As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up." The verse contains music and the verse contains a command to worship, so a commentator can't go wrong by saying that the verse is about music used in worship. However, does this verse say that the music is MAKING the people worship? I think we need to go to verse 6 to see what is making the people worship. It's the threat of punishment. That verse says " Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

 

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Quote:

In any case, he is representative of many commentators who believe that the passage is revelation about music used in worship.

Well, of course commentators would believe that, since the passage explicitly states that music was being used in worship. Daniel 3:5 says  "As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up." The verse contains music and the verse contains a command to worship, so a commentator can't go wrong by saying that the verse is about music used in worship.

If you look at the poll results here on SI so far, 3 out of 5 people have said, "These verses do not reveal anything about worship music because they are not about worship music." How they can think that is beyond my understanding, but they do.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

If you look at the poll results here on SI so far, 3 out of 5 people have said, "These verses do not reveal anything about worship music because they are not about worship music." How they can think that is beyond my understanding, but they do.

I can at least understand the sentiment. The only thing really revealed ABOUT the music itself is the specific instruments used and the fact that it was played during worship. Just having that information leaves us pretty empty handed if we try to draw out principles ABOUT the music from the passage. Since the point of the passage isn't the music, then we are going beyond the passage's meaning to try to say things ABOUT music for which we just have lists of instruments named.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

If you look at the poll results here on SI so far, 3 out of 5 people have said, "These verses do not reveal anything about worship music because they are not about worship music." How they can think that is beyond my understanding, but they do.

 

I can at least understand the sentiment. The only thing really revealed ABOUT the music itself is the specific instruments used and the fact that it was played during worship. Just having that information leaves us pretty empty handed if we try to draw out principles ABOUT the music from the passage. Since the point of the passage isn't the music, then we are going beyond the passage's meaning to try to say things ABOUT music for which we just have lists of instruments named.

As you know very well from our many previous discussions, I believe very strongly that limiting one's profiting to what is the so-called "point of the passage" is a very seriously deficient hermeneutical and theological approach to Scripture.

I have spent many months studying this passage over the past several years because it speaks explicitly about the use of musical instruments in false worship. This passage is one of the most important passages on the subject of false worship in Scripture, and studying it with great, prayerful intensity has profited me immensely.

Having said that, I am, however, not looking to get into a long, detailed discussion of the passage on SI. I have already done that at great length elsewhere. 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

As you know very well from our many previous discussions, I believe very strongly that limiting one's profiting to what is the so-called "point of the passage" is a very seriously deficient hermeneutical and theological approach to Scripture.

I have no doubt that one can draw principles from aspects of a passage that are not the main point. That being said, what I find to be a seriously deficient approach to Scripture is when someone ignores the main point of a passage to make leaps of logic regarding peripheral aspects.

Quote:
I have spent many months studying this passage over the past several years because it speaks explicitly about the use of musical instruments in false worship. This passage is one of the most important passages on the subject of false worship in Scripture, and studying it with great, prayerful intensity has profited me immensely.
It strikes me as odd that a list of instruments and the fact that they are played during false worship is described by you as "one of the most important passages on the subject of false worship in Scripture." One would have to be making leaps of logic to draw anything more about music from the passage other than the list of instruments and the fact they are played.

Quote:
Having said that, I am, however, not looking to get into a long, detailed discussion of the passage on SI. I have already done that at great length elsewhere. 
I'm not looking for a long, detailed discussion either. I've found in the past when I try asking you specific questions about specific aspects of your viewpoint, you let me know that my questions aren't part of what you wish to discuss or that answering my questions would require discussing every passage in the Bible regarding that point.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

As you know very well from our many previous discussions, I believe very strongly that limiting one's profiting to what is the so-called "point of the passage" is a very seriously deficient hermeneutical and theological approach to Scripture.

I have no doubt that one can draw principles from aspects of a passage that are not the main point. That being said, what I find to be a seriously deficient approach to Scripture is when someone ignores the main point of a passage to make leaps of logic regarding peripheral aspects.

It is a faulty notion if one says that any time a person deals with a passage he must always talk about the so-called main point of the passage for it to be a valid handling of the passage. Much of systematic theology requires detailed attention to aspects of numerous passages that are not the "main points" of the passages. For a person to have a proper theology of music, therefore, he must of necessity account for everything that is revealed, regardless of whether that revelation is the main point of the respective passages or not.

Kevin Miller wrote:

Quote:
I have spent many months studying this passage over the past several years because it speaks explicitly about the use of musical instruments in false worship. This passage is one of the most important passages on the subject of false worship in Scripture, and studying it with great, prayerful intensity has profited me immensely.

It strikes me as odd that a list of instruments and the fact that they are played during false worship is described by you as "one of the most important passages on the subject of false worship in Scripture." One would have to be making leaps of logic to draw anything more about music from the passage other than the list of instruments and the fact they are played.

You have wrongly understood that the reasons for my regarding it as one of the most important passages about false worship is because of what it says about music. I never said any such thing.

You also are making faulty claims about my having to make so-called leaps of logic . . . There are legitimate and necessary inferences that must be drawn from what Scripture does reveal.

Kevin Miller wrote:

Quote:
Having said that, I am, however, not looking to get into a long, detailed discussion of the passage on SI. I have already done that at great length elsewhere. 

I'm not looking for a long, detailed discussion either. I've found in the past when I try asking you specific questions about specific aspects of your viewpoint, you let me know that my questions aren't part of what you wish to discuss or that answering my questions would require discussing every passage in the Bible regarding that point.

I have found many of your questions in previous threads to be of such a nature that they could not be addressed properly without going into much discussion of other passages. In any case, it's good that we are in agreement on not discussing this passage at length.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

You have wrongly understood that the reasons for my regarding it as one of the most important passages about false worship is because of what it says about music. I never said any such thing.

I suppose part of my misunderstanding may arise from the fact that you titled this thread with a question about what this passage reveals about music rather than what this passage reveals about any other factor of false worship that would make this passage important.

Quote:
You also are making faulty claims about my having to make so-called leaps of logic . . . There are legitimate and necessary inferences that must be drawn from what Scripture does reveal.
One would have to examine these inferences on a case by case basis to see if they truly are legitimate and necessary. That's what I've tried to do as I've asked you questions about positions you take.

Quote:
I have found many of your questions in previous threads to be of such a nature that they could not be addressed properly without going into much discussion of other passages.
But in our previous discussions, I've see you using this as an excuse to make up an inference and then NOT explain how you came up with it. Even when you did bring up another passage to explain your view, the connection seemed so remote that I could only consider you to be making leaps of logic.

Quote:
In any case, it's good that we are in agreement on not discussing this passage at length. 
So true. It saves us both a lot of time.

Bert Perry's picture

I usually respect Wiersbe a lot, but if Rajesh is quoting him accurately, let's just say I've lost a bit of respect for his position and scholarship.  We can start with the fact that Daniel and his friends did NOT respond to Nebuchadnezzar's music in a posture of submission to that idolatrous worship, and we can infer that the real thing that motivated people to come for the emperor's giant ego trip was not some power of the music, but rather fact that if you did not come, Nebuchadnezzar's goons would come and throw you in the furnace.

Another point of perspective in this regard is that God holds us accountable for our sin.  There are plenty of examples of idolatry in the Scriptures, but a sum total of zero instances where He says "well, the sackbut was playing, so you get off this time."  

Really, one of the most disgraceful things in fundamental culture is that when we're confronted with a problem, too many of us tend to blame the circumstances--music, clothing, technology--when what is really at stake is the sin in our own hearts.  When we blame things around us instead of taking a good look in the mirror, we deepen and harden our sin problems.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.