Prophetic songs through the Holy Spirit
God is Spirit. As His children, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and sing praise to Him with our spirits, not just our minds, and “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with our hearts.” God’s Spirit can inspire our spirits to compose songs of praise and worship. He can even literally give prophetic songs through His people, as He did through Moses. In Deuteronomy 31-32, we see that God instructed Moses to write down and teach the lyrics of a song prophesying about how the nation of Israel would turn and sin against Him to the people of Israel.
John 4:24 ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
1 Corinthians 14:15 ESV What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Colossians 3:16 ESV Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Here is what the Lord told Moses, “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” (Deuteronomy 31:19-21)
Moses is known as one of the greatest prophets in Israel. Through Moses, God performed great signs and wonders. One of the first things that Moses led God’s people to do after the Lord rescued the Israelite slaves from Egypt with mighty miracles was to break out into a song of praise. This is known as the Song of Moses found in Exodus 15:1-21.
Deuteronomy 34:10-11 ESV And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,
The Holy Spirit can move through music
God uses prophecies to supernaturally:
- show us a glimpse of His plans (divine revelation of future events),
- reveal what we ought to do (divine instruction), and
- build up our spiritual strength for His work (divine exhortation)
The Bible shows that the Holy Spirit can give prophetic inspiration through different ways, such as through musical hymns, as well as through lessons, revelations, tongues or the interpretation of tongues. Whichever means the Holy Spirit uses, everything should be done to build up the body of believers in God’s kingdom.
1 Corinthians 14:1,26 ESV Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
There are at least two examples in the Bible of how the Holy Spirit came upon someone and prophecised through them, as God’s musicians played musical instruments.
- Prophet Elisha begun to prophesy as a musician played, and the hand of the Lord came upon him | 2 Kings 3:14-16 ESV 14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’
- The Holy Spirit came upon Saul as he met a group of prophets playing musical instruments and prophesying, and he too began prophesying | 1 Samuel 10:5-6 ESV After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim, where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
God’s Spirit fills heaven and earth and He does not require to any “medium” or “channel” to move through. Rather, it is our hearts and spirits that music moves. God can use musicians to play music that prepares our hearts to receive His Word. The Holy Spirit can choose to lay God’s prophetic words on our hearts with the accompaniment of music.
Jeremiah 23:24 ESV Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
Psalm 119:10-11 ESV With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Deuteronomy 11:18 ESV “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
The prophetic psalms of King David
Perhaps the most musically inclined and gifted man in the Bible is King David, who is also known as the “sweet psalmist of Israel”.
2 Samuel 23:1-2 ESV Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.
For example, we see that musical King David:
- Recited song lyrics to celebrate victory over enemies | 2 Samuel 22:1-4 ESV And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
- Danced to music | 1 Chronicles 15:15-16,29 ESV And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy. And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating…
- Played the lyre to drive a demon away from king Saul | 1 Samuel 16:14,23 ESV Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.
- Sang songs of grief | 2 Samuel 1:17-18 ESV And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said: “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!
- Sang songs of praise to God | Psalm 108:1-3 ESV My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations
- Sang songs of complaint | Psalm 64:1 ESV Hide Me from the Wicked To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
King David may have been advised by prophets such as Samuel, Nathan, and Gad during his rule, but he showed great prophetic gifts in his own psalms and songs.
1 Chronicles 29:29-30 ESV Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer, with accounts of all his rule and his might and of the circumstances that came upon him and upon Israel and upon all the kingdoms of the countries.
For example, David wrote psalms which prophesied about the future King, Jesus. (Psalm 2:6-9, Psalm 16, Psalm 89:26-29). One of the most remarkable of such prophetic songs written by David is Psalm 22, which appears to describe what Jesus might have thought, felt, and said while He was hanging on the cross.
Psalm 22 ESV
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet
I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
How was king David gifted to do so? Perhaps it is because David’s heart and spirit moved in unison with and in obedience to the Holy Spirit. God Himself described David as “a man after my heart, who will do all my will.”
Acts 13:22 ESV And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’
We may not hear a lot about prophetic songs nowadays but God’s use of music certainly hasn’t stopped. There is music being sung in heaven all day and all night long. May those whose hearts are pure and who have cleansed themselves of whatever is dishonourable be used by the Lord for His prophetic word to be released to His people through song and musical instruments.
2 Timothy 2:21 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
I have been baptised in the Holy Spirit for a few years but it wasn’t until I was on an overseas mission trip that I experienced a prophetic song.
We were visiting a slum area where a Christian group had been ministering to the poorest of the poor. We gathered around the leaders and were praying for them when I felt a burning sensation in my spirit to speak on behalf of the Lord. It was very uncomfortable because I didn’t want to speak up and draw attention to myself, but I knew I could not deny the Lord.
So I took a leap of faith and just opened my mouth. Then, I heard myself declare, “This is My land, says the Lord, and these are My people!” After that, a song came out of my mouth in tongues with the purest of voices, which surprised everyone, including myself. I felt it was not myself who was singing but the Lord Jesus Himself. Praise God. We later discerned that it was a song of praise celebrating the prophetic declaration over the land the Christian group was ministering in.
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