Worship Instruments of the Old Testament

Worship Instruments Found In The Old Testament

Gold Harp on Green Shield
A history of musical instruments is well documented in the Old Testament. Some instrument names have remained the same ( harp, trumpet, drum), while the structure of these instruments have changed considerably over the years. Some instruments such as the ugav no longer exist. Below is a list of Old Testament instrument names and usage, accompanied by scripture reference.

Stringed Instruments
  • Harp An instrument made of 10 or more strings used to accompany the voice. "I will sing a new song to You, O God; upon a harp, an instrument of ten strings, will I offer praises to You" (Psalm 144:9 Amplified).
  • Lyre A seven- or eight-stringed solo instrument also used to accompany a voice(The harp that David used). "Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody"(Psalm 98:5 Amplified).

Reed Instruments
  • Reed pipe A double reed wind instrument used for celebrations and funerals. "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" (1 Samuel 10:5 KJV).

      Concussive Instruments
    • Clapper cymbal/Finger Cymbal Multi-sized cymbals made of two small discs attached with prongs to be worn on the fingers or carried in the hand and shaken together rhythmically. "And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord with all their might, with songs, lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets (clapper cymbals/finger cymbals) and cymbals." (2 Samuel 6:5 Amplified).
    • Melodic cymbal Small round disks of thin metal or clay struck together to make a variety of melodic sounds depending on the bulk or delicacy. "David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and..." (melodic) cymbals" 1 (Chronicles 5:16 NIV).
    • Rattle A shell-like apparatus made of clay, filled with pebbles, stones or nuts that would rattle when shook. "David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums (rattles) and cymbals." (2 Samuel 6:5 NIV)
    • Wooden clapper Boomerang-shaped instruments that produced a clacking sound when two were struck together.
    • Rhythm Bones Two slightly curved pieces of bone, wood or ivory that were held in one hand and struck together. "Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood Wooden clappers and Rhythm Bones), on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals" (2 Samuel 6:5 KJV)

        Percussive Instruments
        • Drum A large thin drum held in the left hand and beat with the right hand, used in celebration and dance. "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." (Exodus 15:20 KJV)

            Signaling Instruments
            • Shofar (ram's horn) A non-musical instrument made from an animal horn and used to call people to gather for war or worship. "I cannot be silent! For I have heard the sound of the trumpet (shofar); the alarm of war" (Jeremiah 4:19 Amplified).
            • Trumpet Non-musical metal signaling devices used in pairs to signal the breaking of camp, assembly, and various religious rituals. "Make two trumpets of silver; of hammered or turned work you shall make them, that you may use them to call the congregation and for breaking camp" (Numbers 10:1-2 Amplified).
            • Gold bells Sewn on the hem of the priest's garments; if the bells stopped ringing when the priest was behind the curtain at the holiest of alters it was a signal that he may be dead, and the people pulled him out by an attached rope (no one was allowed to enter to retrieve the priest or they would die also). "And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates on the hem of the robe" (Exodus 39:25 NKJV)

              • Ugav A pan pipe made of animal skin and an earthen vessel. "His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe (ugav)" (Genesis 4:21 Amplified)

                The first mention of musical instruments in the Bible are the pipe and harp in Genesis 4:21. The final mention of musical instruments in the Bible is Revelations 15:2: "They held harps given them by God" (NIV). Beginning and end, Heaven and Earth worship God with voice and instruments.

  • Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen