An updated version of this post can be found here.
This is the fourth in a series on Hebrew praise words. So far we have looked at
Zamar is similar to Tehillah in that it is a musical term of praise. Zamar means to make music. Although Zamar is usually translated as “to sing” or “sing praise”, it is actually a root word referring to the plucking of a string and is understood to mean either playing an instrument or singing with an instrumental accompaniment.
Once again, as with the word Tehillah, we are reminded that God loves music and encourages, even commands us, to make music to him. The word Zamar occurs 42 times in the Old Testament and Tehillah 57 times. So, just between these two words we are called to make music to God almost 100 times!
Zamar reminds us that God not only loves our verbal praise but also our instrumental praise. As an example, notice the use of Zamar in Psalm 71:22.
I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises (zamar) to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
How can we apply this to our worship? I think one of the most misunderstood times of worship are the musical interludes – those times when the instruments play and the rest of the congregation listens. Here are some suggestions on how to use those times to worship God:
- Offering. If you are one of the instrumentalists, then use the interlude as your personal offering of praise to God. This is not a time to show off but rather a time to offer to God a gift of praise through your instrument – a time to zamar God. Play with excellence, but play it to God, not to the people.
- Meditate. If you are not playing a musical instrument then don’t zone out during the instrumental times of praise. Use those times to meditate on God. Allow the music to draw you closer to God.
- New Song. Allow your own song to soar up to God on the wings of the music. Consider freely singing your own praise to God. Allow the Spirit of God to touch your heart and voice, and sing out the praise that is in your heart using whatever notes come to you.
God loves music, even instrumental music.
Question: Why do you think music is so important to God? Please leave a comment.
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory