“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
The third result of God’s Word finding lodgment in our soul is a song in our heart.
“in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”
It is great to learn truth but we must celebrate it as well. We celebrate it in worship of praise. Truth and the celebration of truth are a great combination of praise.
Two operating principles must guide Christian music: content and worship.
“Psalms” has to do with content of Scriptural truth. The New Testament uses “Psalms” 7 times. Four times of the book of Psalms and three times of the Psalms in general (I Cor. 14:26; Eph. 5:19. and here). “Psalms” were probably the Psalms of the Old Testament.
“Hymns” was originally a heathen word for a song for a god or hero after death. The New Testament confines the meaning to direct address of praise and glory to the living God. However, a Psalm might commemorate the mercies and blessing God bestows. A hymn was a song of praise of newly composed texts directed toward Christ.
“Spiritual songs” are compatible with Scripture but they are not Scripture itself. These songs do not state their lyrics in biblical language; they do not quote the Bible. These songs were the most general of the three comprising all kinds of songs. This passage qualifies these songs by the term “spiritual.” These songs relate to the spiritual dimension.
God presents in this passage considerable latitude in Christian music. The latitude is set forth in three categories. The first category is psalms that are praises addressed to God. The second category is hymns that contain testimony. “Spiritual songs” is the third category.
The Old Testament was filled with both vocal and instrumental music. David used musical instruments in worship. We do not read much about music in the New Testament. There is nothing about music in the Acts of the Apostles. Some churches prohibit musical instruments but the New Testament does not prohibit instrumental music. There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits a piano, a sound system or carpet on the floor.
Worship by music contains two elements: content and heart.
All Christian music must contain a message. Much Christian music today is subjective if not sentimental. This music expresses only personal experience and not the truth of Scripture. Often these experiences do not correspond to reality.
The weight of music will differ; the musical value will not be the same. God has a place for different styles of music.
This section of Colossians has its parallel in Ephesians 5:18-20. This Ephesian passage indicates that a genuine song in the heart comes from the filling of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit produces the same results as being filled with the Word.