Music and Liturgical Warfare

Date: 2/8/2009
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INTRO: Expositional vs Topical sermons: All sermons are to be “biblical” in the sense that they are to be consistent with the truth of Scripture. Expositional sermons aim to address the Bible in terms of the Bible’s own literary structure (books and sections of books, e.g., Romans) and unfolding the meaning and relevant applications. Topical sermons are to be no less “biblical” but they are not aimed at expositing a particular passage of Scripture, but rather drawing together a range of biblical truths relevant to a topic (loci or topoi).

Last week I urged that every part of the Bible is a training manual for Christian life, whether the formative days of creation, the stories of the patriarchs, the rituals of Torah, the battles of David, the architecture of the tabernacle and temple, the prophetic books of Exile and post-Exile . . . or the Gospels. The Epistles are the doctrine of these narratives. If you see any Scriptural teaching as irrelevant, the perhaps you are not living as a Christian.

TOPIC: MUSIC AND "LITURGICAL WARFARE"- Thesis: Music is central to spiritual warfare/liturgical warfare, because our weapons are not “fleshly” but are “spiritual.” The true realm of battle is the “heavenly places” - hence, “praise” is our greatest offensive weapon because the “battle belongs to the Lord.”

Music is addressed in Scripture over 500 times. Clearly, this is “what is in the Bible” therefore it is part of God’s Word, therefore it is relevant to us and apparently important. HOW SO?

Psalms 144:1-15 NAS95S - Blessed be the LORD, my rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle; 144:2 My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer, My shield and He in whom I take refuge, Who subdues my people under me. . . .
144:9 I will sing a new song to You, O God; Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, 144:10 Who gives salvation to kings, Who rescues David His servant from the evil sword. . . .

Older commentators (e.g., Chrysostom, Augustine) spiritualize this.

“Harp of ten strings. . . let your members be servants to the love of God, and of your neighbour, in which are kept both the three and the seven commandments” (Augustine on Ps 33). “When we do anything according to God’s Commandments, obeying His commands and hearkening to Him, that we may fulfil His injunctions, when we are active and not passive, it is the psaltery that is playing” (Augustine Ps 43). “Ye have not heard of the psaltery of ten strings for the first time: it signifies the ten commandments of the Law. But we must sing upon that psaltery, and not carry it only. For even the Jews have the Law: but they carry it: they sing not” (Augustine Ps 92).

This may be useful, but in the text (as in other Psalms) there is a connection between War with hands/10 fingers and Enemies being defeated by praise. Moreover, there are many other examples, Jericho’s walls, Jehoshaphat (2Chr 20:19ff).


The NT is unmistakably clear about the spiritual nature of our Warfare. We have no Cananites to kill or no “Land” to conquer as in the OT because the “kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15; Rom. 4:13).

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

See also 2 Cor. 10FF OUR weapons are not carnal but mighty to tear down that "raised against the knowledge of God." This is apologetics, evangelism, etc. - but like the Levites and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, it is prayer, and prayers which are praise, including and especially Psalms.

Liturgical Battle
James B. Jordan writes: “Throughout the Old Testament, the enemy was defined as Cainitic men, and the imprecatory psalms are phrased in terms of battle against evil men. We find next to nothing about battling demonic powers in the Old Testament.”

The culture war is only a manifestation of the real battle.

Because of Christ (Matt 12, Rev 20), God pushes the battle back to “the citadel of the enemy.” The Gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. CSL says “The Church stretched out throughout eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” Now the enemy is defined as Satan’s legions, the fallen-angelic principalities and powers. “Our struggle is . . . against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more