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I have been thinking about the 'aesthetic aspect of understanding' and found it surprising, when I noticed the role music had in the Bible. (I still scratch my head a bit and find it pleasurably surprising!)

For example in Samuel it seems music was accompanying words of prophecy:

“After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. (1 Samuel 10:5, NIV)

In Chronicles it seems as though music itself is a 'form or prophecy' [along with words of thanksgiving] in that one prophesied 'using the harp' and not just using words?

As for Jeduthun, from his sons: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six in all, under the supervision of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the Lord. (1 Chronicles 25:3, NIV)

I am not supposing that these prophets were walking along like 'Hare Krishnas' at an international airport, but there is something here that seems to put experience on some level with understanding and prophecy.

Again in Ephesians and Colossians we have a similar musical experience of knowledge that goes beyond just responsive hymns and modern day worship services, as it was a form of 'communal teaching' and 'admonishing of one another' which seems improbable to be done with mere pre scripted texts and worship songs:

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

Even conservative Bible scholars commonly attribute this singing to something more than just a worship service using Hebrew Psalms or newly written Christian hymns. For example [brackets mine, bold mine]:

On the other hand ὕμνοις [hyms] would more appropriately designate those hymns of praise which were composed by the Christians themselves on distinctly Christian themes, being either set forms of words or spontaneous effusions of the moment. The third word ᾠδαῖς [songs] gathers up the other two, and extends the precept to all forms of song, with the limitation however that they must be πνευματικαί [spiritual]. (SAINT PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS AND TO PHILEMON J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D.)

In commenting on Ephesians 5:19 the notable linguist and biblical scholar Charles Hodge has the same sentiment about the Colossians reference [bold mine]:

Whether the passage refers to the responsive method of singing or not, which is somewhat doubtful from the parallel passage in Colossians (where Paul speaks of their teaching one another), it at least proves that singing was from the beginning a part of Christian worship, and that not only psalms but hymns also were employed.

Having established a potential 'aesthetic experience' involved in prophesy, teaching and admonishing, through biblical references and scholarly recognition by conservative academics, my question is restated: 'What is this musical knowledge' that the bible and these scholars are referring to?' 'How does music relate to the prophesy of God's mind and our subsequent understanding of it?'

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migrated from Apr 6 '13 at 8:53

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RE: Admonishment in Colossians 3:16. A number of years ago, I went to a church, and somebody in their sermon said that they thought they'd get bored in heaven. So for the next month or so, the person who sorted the music out, gave out Amazing Grace for the lines "when we've been there 10,000 years, ... we've no less days to sing Gods praise, than when we first begun". It was one of the gentlest admonishments I've come across. Music is often tied to praise as well (Psalm 150, etc). – stormCloud May 15 '13 at 20:41
What does "the prophesy of God's mind" mean? I've never heard that phrase before. – curiousdannii Jun 3 '14 at 14:51
@curiousdannii - its just the way I phrased it to focus away from the predictive element that 'prophesy' sometimes implies. Prophecy is just speaking God's truth (mind, or word) to a specific situation under the influence of the Spirit. It has a broader meaning then what is commonly understood by the word. – Mike Jun 3 '14 at 23:43

If your pour over the commentaries that touch on this experience, they all tend to explain it as a ‘pouring fourth of religious feeling’ in an ‘ecstatic prophetic state’ supported by sacred music. Some even think David’s psalms and musical interests were principally from a prophetic passion in the tradition of the school of the prophets which account for the source of so many of the Psalms in scripture.

Whether David had, in his more youthful days, been a pupil in the schools of the prophets, and derived in any degree from that source the acquirements which recommended him to the courtiers of Saul as a skilful and pious minstrel, qualified to soothe and calm the troubled and disordered mind of his sovereign, the sacred narrative does not inform us; but it can scarcely be doubted that his intercourse with them and with Samuel, at a somewhat later period at least, was the means of greatly strengthening, if not of awakening, that deep religious feeling which, combined with native ardour of temperament and poetic fire, produced in due time “the sweet Psalmist of Israel;” and led him, under the Divine influence, to record the workings of his soul amid the varied events of a chequered life, and the dealings of God with him in providence and grace, in hymns of supplication and penitence, of warning and encouragement, of thanksgiving and praise, adapted not only for the use of himself and his people, but for the edification of the Church in every age and clime. (Alexander, W. H. (1867). The Book of Praises: Being the Book of Psalms, according to the Authorized Version, with Notes Original and Selected)

Alfred Edersheim really hits the nail onto the hammer in describing how music can support the soul in separation form the world to an influence on the Spirit that seized the prophets:

But this “prophesying” must not be considered as in all cases prediction. In the present instance it certainly was not such, but, as that of the “elders” in the time of Moses (Num. xi. 25), an ecstatic state of a religious character, in which men unreservedly poured forth their feelings. The characteristics of this ecstatic state were entire separation from the circumstances around, and complete subjection to an extraordinary influence from without, when thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds were no longer under personal control, but became, so to speak, passive instruments. Viewing it in this light, we can understand the use made of music, not only by true prophets, but even among the heathen. For the effect of music is to detach from surrounding circumstances, to call forth strong feelings, and to make us yield ourselves implicitly to their influence. In the case of the prophets at Gibeah and in that of Saul, this ecstatic state was under the influence of the “Spirit of Elohim.” (Edersheim, A. (1997). Vol. 4: Bible History: Old Testament)

'They were prophesying’ while playing music indicates that they were in a condition of ecstatic inspiration and the music enabled them to be overflowing in holy feeling, having their hearts filled from above by the Spirit. The music enlivened the heart inspiring praise to God, by regulating feelings of reverent love. This religious affection naturally has a counterpart in the New Testament. Although we have not seen him we love, believe and rejoice with ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ singing psalms and hymns with mutual encouragement and melody. The objective ground of spiritual feelings is the transcendently excellent nature of divine beauty in the gospel. This alone can bring up our affection into a holy loving fervor of God. This aids our heart to become soft and receptive in understanding his mind through his word. It is impossible that we can understand the gospel unless are affections are aroused to see the beauty of it. Nowadays it may seem that the sermon and the worship service are separate, but they are not, both are needed to understand and experience each other in the Spirit. The sons of the prophets were moved to utter their hearts in song, the disciples at Pentecost uttered theirs in tongues and we have the same experience in worship and acknowledgment of the glory of God in Christian love through worship. The observation of these holy motions and doctrine appearing together means that gracious feelings arise from the mind being enlightened to understand the beauty and excellency of the gospel and enlivened feelings bring support to the mind to gain fresh realizations and panoramic views of God’s glory, making the outcome prophetic in understanding Him. This is the spirit of prophecy.

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