With all the many references to musical instruments found in the bible, there is one instrument that is the most important; that is, the “drum.” Anyone who claims that drums were not mentioned or used in the bible, are absolutely clueless and their opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
Unfortunately, you will not find the word “drum” in the bible but you will find a drum-like, percussion instrument called a “timbrel.” The best description of a timbrel (sometimes referred as tambour) is a hand-drum with miniature cymbals around the edges; it is covered on one side with parchment, cloth or animal skin. It’s held in one hand and “beat” (to smite) with the other hand to keep the tempo during praise and worship in the Old Testament. The word "drum" wasn't even a common word until after or about 1540 A.D. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=drum), the word "drum" was probably origin from the Germanic word "tromme."
"The drum (toph). Of this there were many varieties, some of them resembling modern drums. The Egyptians had a long drum, of wood or copper, 2½ feet long, resembling the tom-tom of India, and beaten by the hand. Another form was shaped like a cask with bulging centre, and was made of copper. It was of the same length as the other, but larger around, and was beaten with sticks. Another drum was more like our kettle-drum; and one of these, the rabbins say, was placed in the temple court to call the priests to prayer, and could be heard from Jerusalem to Jericho." ~ (William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997.)
The reason that the word “drum” was not found in the bible is because the first modern-day version of the drum wasn’t common until around the 1540’s A.D.
About 4000 years ago, these instruments were not called “drums,” they had different names but had the same basic purpose and function. Just as dinosaurs in the bible were once called dragons, behemoth and Leviathan; nowadays, the timbrel, tabret and Toph (drum) are now called percussion, drum or tambourine.
To be more specific about this ancient percussion instrument, this hand-drum named timbrel (or tophet in Hebrew), we must remember that drums, just like any other musical instrument, started simple then evolved (for the lack of a better definition) into other complex instruments. It only makes common sense that as percussion instruments progress, so does the music that changes along with it. Furthermore, when electricity was finally discovered and commonly used, it opened new doors for new instruments, new sounds and techniques and new styles of music. Many pipe organs and pianos in churches use electricity as well. If anyone tells you that electricity is from the devil, they are ignorant because the bible says that God created all things; even electricity in the form of lightning.
"A percussion instrument that was carried and beaten by hand. Considered inappropriate for the Temple, it was probably played primarily by women (Ps. 68:25). The timbrel may have been excluded from the Temple instruments because of its great popularity with the Canaanite fertility cults. Among the Hebrew people, it was associated with merrymaking and processions (Gen. 31:27). Remnants of timbrels with pieces of bronze inserted in the rim have been uncovered by archaeologists. Thus, the instrument could be shaken as well as beaten." ~ (Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.)
"The timbrel, a form of tambourine, a narrow hoop covered with a tightened skin, and struck with the hand. On the Egyptian monuments are three kinds—the circular, the square, and another formed by two squares separated by a bar." ~ (William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997.)
Thus, the Israelites (mostly women) used the timbrel to keep the tempo during celebrations; or as some would say to keep the “beat.” (From a personal perspective, anyone using the term “beat” in place of the proper musical term “tempo,” has little or absolutely no knowledge of musical insight and I wouldn’t trust anything they have to say about music anyway; it’s like taking marriage advice from a counselor who has been divorced three times.)
Are not the modern-day tambourine and the modern-day drum, a percussion instrument? They are both used to keep the tempo, both hit with hand or stick and both used to make music. Just because the Israelites started off with a few light-percussion instruments doesn’t mean that today’s Christians cannot use more complex and better-sounding percussion instruments. There is no Scripture to stop this from happening.
The modern “drum-set” is now the upgrade from the earliest hand-held timbrel. The modern-day drum-set is the contemporary version of the ancient timbrel and the drum-set is used in many musical praise and worship bands. Just as church members have moved forward from having small group church services in people’s homes in the 1st century to an off-site community church building in the 21st century, so has the percussion of the Old Testament moved from a small hand-held drum used by ancient Hebrews to the modern-day drum-sets of today’s church bands. There is nothing wrong with this!
Where does it specifically say in Scripture that music or drums are fleshly?
Where does it specifically say in Scripture that music or drums are evil?
Where does it specifically say in Scripture that music or drums are of the world?
Where does it specifically say in Scripture that music or drums are sinful?
Where does it specifically say in Scripture that music or drums from the devil?
It doesn’t, as we will see further on.
The timbrel was the one of the principle percussion instruments for the Israelites. It was very similar to the modern-day tambourine. Eventually, over thousands of years the timbrel has easily evolved into the modern-day tambourine. Even most modern English translations of the bible today have substituted the word timbrel as a “tambourine” even though the timbrel was entirely a different kind of percussion instrument.
The word timbrel is “used in the Old Testament in both singular and plural form, so as to suggest that the former referred to a hoop of wood or metal over which was stretched a parchment head; while the plural was perhaps used to designate the tambourine with bells or jangles fixed at intervals in hoops (wikipedia, timbrel).”
When David encouraged the Israelites to praise God, he said, “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp (Psalm 149:3, KJV).” Why would anyone praise God with dancing, along with music, without keeping some sort of tempo? Being a drummer and percussionist myself, I can understand that the timbrel must have kept the time (tempo) in order for everyone to sing along and dance in unison. Have you ever tried to dance and sing without some sort of tempo or rhythm? It’s a musical train wreck, especially if there are hundreds of people and half of them lack musical talent or singing skills.
Evidently, the Psalmist (David) did not specify at what the tempo the psalm was to be played but I would assume that the God wanted us Christians to understand through His Word that the tempo was important but more relevant was the message in the song. I believe that’s why God allowed the lyrics of David’s Psalms to be written down as words and not as music notes. In other words, play all the music you want, but without words, the song is meaningless. Of course, it’s only meaningless unless there’s something else to accompany it, such as dancing before the Lord, expressing joy from your heart and in celebration and praise to God for the wonderful things He has done.
I believe that God made sure to include the timbrel in His Word because God is not the author of confusion; praise and worship music must be orderly and in sync. In the Old Testament, Israel praised the Lord with various stringed-instruments, dancing, singing, shouting and playing the timbrel and other percussion instruments. From the descriptions given of all these multiple instruments, it almost sounds as if there were large groups of musicians praising God; kind of like a Christian Rock band!
The world, from every nation, tribe and tongue has taken something beautiful, like music that comes from God, and put their own spin on it and has used it for evil, cultic rituals and for their own selfish benefits. Drums, in and of them, are not evil. Would you say that tents are evil without a reason to make them evil? How about tent-makers? Are tent-makers evil because they make “evil” tents to cover the witches who perform black Sabbaths in the desert?
The Apostle Paul was a tent-maker, is Paul and evil man or a righteous man declared by Christ? Obviously, Paul was a righteous man even though he made and crafted tents. Perhaps later on, an evil man with evil motives came into the local tent shop where Paul’s tent had been placed on consignment. Is the tent evil? Was Paul evil for making the tent?
No, tents are no more evil than drums are. Drums are merely a musical instrument that is used to keep the tempo of a song. What man decides to use drums for, is his business. However, for me and my family, I will use drums for the Lord just as the Israelites did when praising God. In the end it’s all a matter of the heart!
Every nation, culture, tribe and person has their own idea as to the history of and the origin of, the modern-day “drum.” Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the opinions, traditions and philosophies of men whether they are true or not; for Christians the Scriptures must be our standard and our guide for true biblical praise and worship music.
Colossians 2:8 - “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (KJV).”
True worship does not come from the “beat” or tempo, the rhythm, the sound or even from the words or lyrics; true worship comes from having the right attitude in your heart. Words can be empty and meaningless unless the right motive of the heart is involved. Music, along with drums, a catchy melody and a repeating rhythm with lyrics are merely a tool; or a vehicle that helps us to get there. Music is merely the means by which we are ushered into acceptable praise and worship.
When God looks at our worship, is He worried that we are worshipping Him with a tempo? When we are praising God, is He looking down saying, “Those worshippers are using drums to worship me with. I do not accept the worship from them.” Is God concerned that we are using a vehicle to accompany us in our heart-felt worship? If our praise and worship is from the heart with having the right attitude, does it really matter the tempo or “beat” (I really hate that word) in which our songs are kept?
John 4:23, 24 – “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth (NLT).”
Did you see that? “True worshippers” worship God in “spirit and truth,” not by the “beat” or tempo. In other words, the music, tempo, drums and the “beat” are irrelevant! Why? Because it is the heart (attitude, motive) of the worshipper that God sees; not the style, beat, rhythm, or tempo of the music. Again, the music is only a “vehicle” to help us get there. There are probably thousands of people who attempt to worship God every Sunday morning with pipe organs and pianos that do not have a heart for worship. Does God hear the music or “beat” over the hearts of worship? What God is looking for, is people who worship Him in spirit and truth; the drums along with the music are merely a means by which we are led into praise and worship.
Some people may say, “Since when does something become Christian by merely "Christianizing" the terminology and placing Christ’s name in front of it? How about the Roman cross that was used to kill the worst of criminals in Rome? It was a torture device now it’s a holy icon, seen in practically every church building in the world & hanging around millions of Christian necks as a sign of their faith. It was originally Roman (pagan, heathen) in its history, now it’s Christian.
How about baptism? Why did Jesus use baptism in his day? It’s because the people knew what it was. In some pagan rituals, people would be baptized in bull’s blood as a symbol of eternal life. Others used water as a symbol of purification. In Judaism, it was a familiar practice for new converts. It was pagan and heathen, now it’s Christian.
Since God can use the things of the world to honor Him, such as the Roman method of torture and baptismal pagan bull’s blood practice, why wouldn’t God want Christians to take back what was originally ours to glorify Him with? That is, music; which includes drums, stringed instruments, wonderful words and other various instruments!
Another percussion instrument that God chose the Israelites to use during praise and worship was the tabret. How do I know that the tabret was not just a tambourine and more of a drum-like instrument?
Nahum 2:6-7 “The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts (KJV).”
• Easton's Bible Dictionary says that tabering is like “playing on a small drum or tabret. In Nahum 2:7, where alone it occurs, it means beating on the breast, as players beat on the tabret.”
• In Smith's Bible Dictionary tabering “connects itself with toph, "a timbrel”…the "tabour" or "tabor" was a musical instrument of the drum type which with the pipe formed the band of a country village. To "tabour," accordingly, is to beat with loud strokes, as men beat upon such an instrument.”
• “In Nahum 2:7, where the word "tabering" occurs, it means beating on the breast, as drummers beat on the tabret.” – (Wikipedia, timbrel or tabret)
A “tabret” is a small version of the “Toph” or “Tof.” The term “Tof” implies the word “tophet,” which means to smite, which is how you play the Tof. It is very similar to the medieval tabor drum (or tabour), “which consists of a circular frame of two hoops fitting within one another in which a cloth or animal skin is stretched across to create a small, one-headed or two-sided drum. Since no records, pictures or drawings of tabrets have ever been found, some have come to believe that the tabret is an instrument that is between a tambourine and a modern-day drum.
Originally, the tabor was believed to be a two-sided drum with strings that were strung across one side on a head to create a loud snap. The tabor is believed to be the very first version of the modern-day snare drum. Because of the lack of precise information, in some versions of the Holy Bible, the word tambourine is used in place of tabret and timbrel (Hebrew; Tof), flip-flopped and vice versa.
The tabret was used for:
1 Samuel 18:6 – “And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick (KJV).”
1 Samuel 10:5 – “After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: (KJV)”
Psalm 150:4 – “Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs (KJV).”
Jeremiah 31:4 - Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry (KJV).”
IV. Religious Services
2 Samuel 6:5 – “And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals (KJV).”
1 Chronicles 13:8 - And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets (KJV).
Psalm 68:25 – “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.
Psalm 81:2 – “Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery (KJV).”
Psalm 149:3 – “Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp (KJV).”
All musical instruments that were available to the Israelites, were used to praise the Lord God: The Israelites were not limited to only two instruments, such as in many churches today that consist of a piano and pipe organ alone. If it was acceptable for the Israelites to have huge bands of people playing all kinds of “instruments of musick” during praise and worship, then it’s acceptable for us today’s Christians to do the same. To oppose this idea is legalistic and burdensome. The freedom we have inherited in Christ gives us release from all those rules and regulations of the Old Testament.
2 Chronicles 5:13 – “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; (KJV)”
Let’s face it; music really has little to do with praise and worship. As I stated earlier, the musical instruments in a song are merely a means by which we move into our praise and worship. It’s really what comes from the heart that God loves the most. Your motives for praise and worship are worth more to God than having a drummer in the band or a “beat” in the song. Anyone who is worried about having drums in a Christian band or a “beat” to keep the tempo has gotten their priorities in the wrong places. They are more focused upon themselves and the flesh rather than upon the kind worship that pleases God.
Some legalistic and biblically ignorant Christians may say that having drums in a Christian song or Praise and Worship band “feeds” the flesh. The following are a couple of quotes by Christians who have absolutely no clue about using drums in Christian music or what the Scripture say about it:
• “It is the beat which either appeals to the flesh (Rock, Blues) Soul (Classical) or Spirit(Christian).”
• “The lyrics are irrelevant, when the beat is fleshly.”
Just as the word “drum” is not found in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, you will not find the phrase “music feeds the flesh” and you will not find the word “feed, drum, beat or music” associated with the flesh.
The bible says that there are “deeds” of the flesh but there is no mention of anything that “feeds” the flesh. These fleshly deeds are found in Galatians 5:19-23):
• Outbursts of anger
I have heard that some Christians have even gone as far as to say that Christian music that includes drums, appeal to the flesh. In other words, it is “fleshly.” What does God’s Word have to say about what is “fleshly?”
• 2 Corinthians 1:12 - For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward (KJV).”
• Colossians 2:18 – “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (KJV).”
• 1 Peter 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (KJV).”
• Ezekiel 16:26 - You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger (NKJV).
• Hebrews 7:16 - “…who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life (NKJV).”
• Hebrews 9:10 – “…concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation (NKJV).”
1. fleshly wisdom
2. fleshly mind
3. fleshly lusts
4. fleshly neighbors
5. fleshly commandment
6. fleshly ordinances
There we have it; I didn’t see any mention of music, tempo, the “beat” or Rock music as being “fleshly.” As a matter of fact, there are no examples of music or drums “feeding” the flesh either.
As mentioned previously, I really don’t care where the supposed origin of drums came from; I am not using drums for that purpose. Just as God used a Roman cross to save us from our sins, Christian Contemporary Rock bands use drums to write music that glorifies God and it helps us to move into a heart of praise and worship.
Anyone who claims that Christian Rock music is “fleshly” because it includes drums or that Christian Rock music appeals to the flesh, it only expressing their useless opinion! To do do this...is fleshly! Sheesh, what a frigg'n hypocrite. What really happens is that the music moves and carries us into a spirit or attitude of praise and worship. Thus, when this happens we are actually walking and living in the spirit and worshipping God in spirit (attitude) and truth (knowing Christ). Music being fleshly is not found in the Holy Scriptures and making the claim that Christian Rock music that includes drums is fleshly, is unbiblical and a lie. It is man’s opinions alone, nothing more. Do not fear man, but fear God.
Nowadays, some Christians who are ignorant of music theory, biblical music history and what true worship is, would make the claim that Christian music should emphasize the melody, not the “beat.”
Does Christian music emphasize the melody if drums are involved? When you hear a Christian Contemporary/Rock song on the radio, do you remember what the drums did or what the melody is?
For example, when you hear the song “Jesus Saves” by Jeremy Camp, do you hear or remember “boom, pop,(rest) boom, pop, crash, (rest) boom, pop, (rest) boom, pop, crash?” Or, do you remember the chorus, “Sing it out, to let all the world know that Jesus saves. Raise a shout, to let all the world know, that Jesus saves?”
Do you know why you remember the chorus more than the drum beat or the words to the verses? First of all, most people aren’t professional drummers and second, it’s because the chorus is the melody! The melody is the focus in the song and that’s why the chorus is usually played louder than the verses, thus emphasizing the melody and not the “beat.” The drum beat is simply a rhythm that carries the song and keeps the tempo to get us to the melody. The melody is the focus; the “beat” is actually a “back-beat” that keeps the song moving in a forward direction, that always leads us back to the chorus.
One simple guideline for Christian music is that it’s okay to have drums.