By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land? Psalm 137:1-4 (ESV)
The Levites were assigned the work of the Lord; they were the priests, the ministers, musicians, and singers. Now they find themselves under the dominion of Babylon. Babylon wanted for the Levites to entertain them by singing to them, but the Levites refused.
That is our first principle: our music and our singing is never for show! Our music has a greater purpose. How different to what we see today; how easy Christian musicians and singer sell out. They play in a club Friday and Saturday and, on Sundays they are a part of the worship team. This should not be!
The second principle is that Christian music is key in seeking God’s presence. Psalm 100:1-2 tells us, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (ESV) The word presence here is the Hebrew Word, pāniym meaning “a face.” Through music we are seeking the face of God.
The third principle is that singing is not an option is a MUST. Ephesians 5:19 tells us, “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” (ESV) Colossians 3:16 also tells us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (ESV)
The fourth principle is that we should never stop singing; even when we see no fruit. Isaiah 54:1 tells us, “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.” (ESV) Don’t let the devil take away your song.
The fifth principle to keep in mind is that our instrumental music can be just as powerful. In First Samuel 16:23 we read, “And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.” (ESV) Psalm 147:7 also speaks about making melody.
The sixth principle is that it is ok to dance to the sound of Godly music, First Samuel 18:6 tells us, “As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.” (ESV)
The seventh principle is that God’s music should be powerful, First Chronicles 15:16 tells us, “David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.” (ESV) Oh yes, God’s music should be loud!!!!! I don’t think God is happy with weak music, Amos 6:4-5 tells us, “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, 5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp…” (ESV)
The eighth principle is that even as every believer is called to sing to the Lord, when it comes down to the ministry of music the leaders must know about music; this is the 6th principle. First Chronicles 15:22 tells us, “Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, should direct the music, for he understood it.” (ESV) This goes alone with Psalm 33:3 that encourages us to play skillfully. The Bible does not promote mediocracy in music.
So now that we have established important principles concerning Christian music, let’s talk about the specific topics we are called to sing about:
- We are called to sing the Psalms (Ephesians 5:19 / Colossians 3:16). The Bible is filled with music; the book of Psalm focusses 100 percent in songs. It will do us well to read and study this powerful book.
- We are called to sing spiritual songs focus on God and not carnal songs focus on us. (Ephesians 5:19 / Colossians 3:16)
- We are called to sing songs of thanksgiving or Praise (Psalm 100:1-2 / Psalm 95:1-2) This is repeated over and over in the Psalms.
- Sing in tongues (I Corinthians 14:15). Baptist and religious folks may not like this one, but it is in Scripture. I was Baptized in the Holy Ghost while I was singing in a prophetic conference.
- Sing about God’s works (Psalm 105:2).
- When singing amongst the non-believers the focus should be in exalting God’s name; in other words, HIS attributes; not vain glory and not a show (Romans 15:9) In Psalm 137:1-4 we see the Babylonians attempting to use the Levites for entertainment; Romans 15:9 is us declaring God’s character through His Names.
- Sing about God’s victories (Exodus 15:1).
- Sing new songs (Psalm 149:1). There is still plenty of music in heaven. I think we have become lazy in always following the world.
- Sing of God’s love (Psalm 89:1).
- Sing about how worthy God is (Revelation 5:9).
- Sing about Jesus’ blood (Revelation 5:9)
- Sing about God’s redemption (Isaiah 44:23).
- Sing of God’s salvation (1 Chronicles 16:23).
- Sing about God’s righteousness (Psalm 7:17).
- Sing about God’s glory amongst the nations (Psalm 96:1-13) This is like an evangelistic way of approaching music).
In conclusion, let’s not prostitute ourselves by using our gifts for mere entertainment; lets sing what HE wants us to sing and, lets sing for the glory of God ONLY.
 Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 906.