By Pastor Glenn Pease
Paul Aurandt tells this fascinating historical example of the victory of the underdog.
Sybaris was one of the wealthiest of Greek cities.
The people lived in luxury and were the envy of others.
But some people are never satisfied, and so one of the leaders persuaded the tribunal to confiscate all the wealth of the 500 richest men in the city.
These 500 fled to the city of Crotan, which was 75 miles away.
The Sybarites sent messengers to Crotan saying return the 500 or risk war.
Crotan was only one third the size of Sybaris, and so it looked like a wise thing to do to cooperate.
They sent 30 diplomats to Sybaris and they were all killed.
This made the Crotans so angry they decided to risk war even if the odds were against them.
The amazing thing was that they won the war and totally demolished the city of Sybaris.
They even diverted a river so that the very sight of the city was eliminated.
How could they do it?
By the power of music.
As the two armies approached each other for battle the Crotans had their musicians play a favorite Sybarite tune.
It was a tune they used in their parades.
Their magnificent horses had been trained to dance to this music.
Now in the midst of battle they began to dance and prance.
The Crotans were able to sweep in and put the entire cavalry out of commission, and the Sybarites were defeated.
There is power in music when it is rightly and cleverly used to even win a war.
Music has always been one of the weapons of warfare.
The bugle, trumpet, drums, and the song have all been used to motivate men to march out to engage in battle.
The sound of these instruments alone use to drive off the Indians when they signaled the coming of the cavalry.
The Bible has examples of the power of music as a weapon.
When Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, the priests were to march around the city seven times blowing the trumpets of rams horns.
It was on the signal of a long blast from these trumpets that all the people were to shout, and when they did the walls came tumbling down.
We have all seen the high pitch voice that breaks the goblet, but here was a spectacle of trumpets and voices breaking down a city wall.
When Gideon with his 300 men took on the vast hoard of Midianites he did so with 300 trumpets.
All of his men blew their trumpet and broke jars.
This threw the enemy into a state of panic, and they began fighting each other and defeated themselves.
We know there is power in missiles, but we forget the power there is in music.
150:3 says, "Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet."
The trumpet can help win a war, or help us praise God, and numerous other things that demonstrate the power of music.
Music has the power to give life meaning, and so one of the worse judgments God can inflict on a people is to deprive them of music.
Listen to the punishment on the city of Babylon for its great wickedness.
In Rev. 18:22 we read, "The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again."
There will be no music in hell, but there will be music forever in heaven, and it will be both vocal and instrumental.
God enjoys singing, and the prophet implies that the trumpet of the Lord is really an instrument that He plays.
9:14 tells us that God shall sound the trumpet.
It is important that we keep instrumental music in mind, for the Bible clearly exalts the power of both vocal and instrumental music.
Because the early Christians did not use instruments it has lead to a history of controversy on the subject.
The early Christians were a persecuted people, and so the blowing of trumpets, or even the playing of the harp, would not have been good for their health.
When you were meeting in secret and trying to keep from being raided by the Romans, the one thing you would not do is play any type of instrument.
Unfortunately, many took this unusual situation as the standard for all time.
They said Christians should not use instruments in worship.
The Eastern Orthodox church uses only vocal music.
There is a whole history of how primitive Baptist and Free Methodist, old Mennonites, and some Presbyterian groups fought the use of instruments.
This prohibition is waning, however, and is most conspicuous in certain Churches of Christ whose leaders insist on strict adherence to the New Testament practice.
I don't want to take time debating the issue, but to simply point out that the New Testament does clearly reveal the use of instruments for making music in heaven.
It also clearly makes the loss of musical instruments a severe judgment on Babylon.
That ought to be sufficient evidence, even without the abundance of Old Testament references, which make it obvious that God is pleased with the music of instruments.
This whole business of what instruments that are appropriate for Christian worship is so subjective.
Don Hustad, Billy Graham's organist of many years, and teacher of music, tells of how in the mid 1960's many evangelicals opposed the use of guitar in the church because it was a symbol of the youth culture in their rebellion.
This all seems so ridiculous to him because he grew up with Norwegian Gospel music which used the guitar all the time.
Way back in the early 1800's Oscar Ahnfelt popularized the guitar in Sweden.
Scandinavian evangelicals developed string bands and they became as basic to them as the Gospel song.
Hustad says he is very open minded and feels all instruments can be used in the church-all except the saxophone.
He was joking of course, but that stuck me as funny, because in a church I served in Michigan one of the most frequent instrumentalists was a saxophone player who used his saxophone for the glory of God.
The problem people have is that they associate certain instruments with the world, and this makes it hard to think of them as fitting for sacred music.
The issues around instruments can be so subjective.
The real question should be, does the music have the power to move men for God?
That is what William Booth asked as he sought to minister to the needs of the working people of England.
His goal was to take the Gospel into the streets and touch people where they were.
The organ and piano were not practical for this goal, and so he organized a band.
It had to be loud to get attention, and so it was a brass band with drums, and by the power of these instruments he began a movement that has reached around the world.
The Salvation Army may never have marched around the block had they used only the piano, but they marched to a different drum, and they reached people with the power of powerful music.
This influenced others like Billy Sunday.
He had his song leader Homer Rodeheaver play his trombone.
Other evangelists used trumpets or violins, and the dynamic Paul Rader, in the 1920's, used a full concert band which drew tremendous crowds.
This may bother some of God's people, but the Bible has a band of its own.
Listen to this list of instruments used in the Old Testament.
STRING WIND PERCUSSION
Psaltry of ten strings Cornet Cymbals
Dulcimer Flute Timbrals or Tabret
Harp Organ Hand drum
Sachbut Rams horn Triangle
Man is the greatest musical instrument himself, for he can use his voice to sing, to hum, and to whistle.
He can use his body to move in rhythm, and he can clap his hands.
Clapping the hands is not just an expression of appreciation, it is part of the music of life.
It is the expression of joy by means of sound.
The Jews used the clapping of hands as a synonym for singing.
98:8 says, "Let the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains sing together for joy."
55:12 says, "The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."
Here in Psa.
47, the song begins with a call to the nations to express their joy with the voice, and with the clapping of the hands.
If you thought you could not play any instrument, wipe that false idea from your head, for the hands are a Biblical instrument of music, and by means of them we can make sounds that express joy and praise to God.
Forget the old joke about all I can do is play the radio or the phonograph.
You can play the same instrument that the great musicians of history have used-the hands.
They have developed the ability to use the hands to play other instruments, but even the least musical of us can make some rhythmic sound with the hands by clapping them or tapping them on something else.
You may think I am stretching Biblical poetry too thin to make a point, but it is not so.
A. Z. Idelsohn in his book Jewish Music In Its Historical Development tells us that the Arabic meter in music comes from the rhythmic movements of the body and the trot of the horse and the camel.
Clippity clop, clippity clop, clippity clopping along.
These animals trotting are another form of clapping the hands.
The point is, this Arabic meter became a major influence in Jewish music.
The human body is an instrument of music, and not only the hands, but the heart as well.