I was raised in a Pentecostal church. The scene was all too familiar: At a certain point in the worship and singing, the music would break, and someone would shout out, “My people, My people….” What followed was generally a declaration of love, encouragement, or admonition spoken in the first-person as though God Himself were speaking. Based on 1 Corinthians 12-14, we respected these exclamations as prophecies. Still today, I love to hear a prophetic shout of encouragement from God! But this method of presenting prophecy has overtaken an ancient form that, in many ways, is often more stirring.
There’s no doubt that music stirs our emotions. There’s nothing wrong with that! In Psalm 108:1, David declares, “My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul” (your “soul” is your mind, will, and emotions). When Mary was declared “blessed” by Elizabeth for bearing the Messiah in her womb, she sang out, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior!”
Music is meant to stir the emotions and also to have an effect on the spiritual realm (I’ll write about this more in my next blog post). God wants to touch our emotions! Nevertheless, we’ve separated prophecy from music. Why? Perhaps because it’s practical–in a large church gathering, it’s not easy for an individual to be heard above our loud stage shows.
In the Bible, however, music and prophecy were often interwoven. While it may not be practical for the average Christian to prophesy this way in a big church service, it shouldn’t stop musicians and singers from practicing it at all!
Throughout the Psalms we find songs that convey prophetic words from God. Consider, for instance, Psalm 50. Here a man named Asaph sings a prophetic word from God–first to His people and then to the wicked. God’s proclamation gets declared in song! The music didn’t stop and wait for a prophecy! Instead, God joined in the music by singing through a willing and yielded human being!
Apparently Asaph’s gift for prophetic song was handed down to the next generation. King David placed Asaph’s sons and the sons of two other Psalm writers in charge of prophetic music in his kingdom.
1 Chronicles 25:1a–David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals… (NIV).
Asaph was a song writer. Heman was a musician. And Jeduthun was himself a prophetic singer.
1 Chronicles 25:3–As for Jeduthun…who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the LORD (NIV).
It’s interesting to note that all these men carried out their ministries within the context of being under authority according to God’s order:
1 Chronicles 25:6-7–All these men were under the supervision of their fathers for the music of the temple of the LORD, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD –they numbered 288 (NIV).
So King David oversaw the three fathers, and the fathers oversaw their sons. What’s interesting to me is how relevant this is even today. It’s one thing to interrupt a moment of silence by shouting a prophecy (or supposed prophecy). Anyone can do that! But to get in front of people with a musical instrument and sing a prophecy is more likely to happen if you’ve been granted the venue by someone in authority!
So my advice to musicians who want to exercise their prophetic gifts in song is this: Submit to authority! God wants to use you to sing His heart to His people and stir their souls. Gain an audience through humility.
This is a completely different world for most musicians. Our culture has taught us that if you want to go places with your musical talent, then you have to put on a show. You’ve got to be the star and perform with blind confidence. In other words, you’ve got to raise yourself up. That’s called pride, by the way; and God opposes the proud.
Prophetic singers and musicians, however, can only rise to prominence through humility and submission to authority. That’s how they receive their platform. That’s how they’re granted an audience with kings!
Luke 14:11–For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (NIV).
Spend time with the Lord. Get to know His heart. As you sing to Him, listen for Him to sing back to you!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been impacted through prophetic song. Prophetic singing fuels spiritual warfare. It soothes life’s hurts. It accelerates inner healing. It can be a tool for the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and awaken our conscience. It encourages, admonishes, and uplifts. It comforts. It spurs us onward. It rallies the Church to take action!
If King David recognized the need to officially appoint prophetic singers and musicians in his earthly kingdom, how much more important are they today in Christ’s heavenly Kingdom? Let the prophetic singers and musicians rise up! Let prophetic songs burst forth from the Church! Let the emotions of mankind be gripped with the word of the Lord!
It has been said, “Sing unto the Lord a new song!” But today I say to you, “Let the Lord sing a new song through you!”