“…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19)
This verse encourages faithful saints to sing out loud to benefit others so that they may hear the praise to God. It also encourages them to sing silently as well in their hearts to God so that they may feel the emotion of the words of praise.
This verse mentions three types of songs, all of which are meant to bring honor to God. We are familiar with the Psalms of the Old Testament. These were a form of poetry that could and most often were put to music and sung orally by individuals or groups. Many of them have been arranged to fit modern music melodies.
“Hymn” comes from a Greek word that meant “praises to God.” They are words of praise that also can be set to music and sung individually or by a group. In the last few hundred years, thousands of them have made their way into collections and published for use by the church.
“Spiritual songs” are musical pieces that have a religious or Spiritual connection. Many of them are direct praises of God, and many of them tell other Biblical facts.
All three of these song types have the same function. They allow faithful saints to praise God silently, internally and loudly, publicly.
This verse neither condemns nor condones the use of an instrument. This verse is about what and how to sing. To deal with instrumental music one would need a verse that talks about playing rather than singing. In the New Testament, that verse is Revelation 14:2. Even this verse doesn’t say anything about playing an instrument as a part of praising God. The verse is used to describe the voice of God which was reported to sound like many harps.
Obviously, the important thought Paul is presenting here is that our hearts must be involved in praising God in song. Praising God with the lips is meaningless, however, without the praise originating in the inner part of man.
Task for Today: Teach others with songs of praise. Raise your voice in church or the shower. Train your heart to respond to the goodness of God with songs of the heart that need not be on your lips.