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"To the Chief Musician"

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  • "To the Chief Musician"

    This phrase appears 55 times in Psalms "To the Chief Musician". What does it mean? Where can I find more exhaustive information about it? Does/Can it have any basis/information for worship in its many forms today?

    I am studying this but would like some input.


  • #2
    I believe it to simply be information notifying us that what we are reading is a song. Secondly, I think we can glean from the phrase that there WAS such a thing as a "chief musician" role in OT faith. I'm not sure that we can dig much more from it.


    • KMusek
      KMusek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you!

  • #3
    It's my understanding that this phrase is because David was delivering these psalms to the temple musicians with instructions how to recite them. This is similar to leaders today give us directions.

    For example- if you look at the places where "to the chief musician" is mentioned, it's often followed by instructions

    Ps. 4- "With stringed instruments"
    Ps. 5- "With flutes"
    Ps. 6- "With stringed instruments. On an 8 string harp"
    Ps. 9- "To the tune of "Death of a Son"

    Culturally, this is a time where there were temple musicians, namely Levite priests. David would write these psalms and deliver them to the chief temple musician to use in their worship. Because David was king, the temple was under his authority. Like any other group, there is someone who is a leader- a point person, contact, whatever you want to call them.

    How it applies today? It would be someone writing a song with notes to the band saying "acoustic guitar intro" or "vocals only in the bridge". The 'Chief Musician' may be a band leader that isn't necessarily the worship leader. Many churches have a worship leader or songwriter that may not necessarily be a musician, and another person that leads the band in the sense of giving musical instructions.

    The main thing I would offer here is, don't read too much into it. It's not a salvation issue or doctrine, don't let it send you down a rabbit hole.

    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


    • KMusek
      KMusek commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Mike. How is this interpreted or applied? For example, Ps 4 reads for the Choir Director, a Psalm of David to be accompanied with stringed instruments. Answer me when I call...(NLT). Would someone be saying or singing the words while being accompanied? Can you point me to your sources?
      Last edited by KMusek; 06-17-2016, 10:08 AM. Reason: One more thought...

    • Mike on Bass
      Mike on Bass commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi KMusek. As far as sources, I haven't gone into a deep dive of this specific topic, but one source I've consulted is Biblehub.com. There is a commentary section that has several different commentators offering insight to phrases or passages. I don't use it exclusively, but I've found it to be insightful

      In the case of any commentary, it's interpretation and different people with different perspectives naturally have some variance in interpretation. In my own explorations in the area of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, there are a few consistencies between every commentary/source I've looked at.

      1. All three are intended to be sung.
      2. Psalms are intended to have musical accompaniment- hymns and spiritual songs may or may not be sung to music

      Again, I'm not a scholar'and haven't spent hours researching this subject, but every source I have consulted, psalms are sung to music.

      Hope this helps

  • #4
    Just a thought: we set the praise and worship to be first in our service. Similar to Old Testament battles fought with our enemies "set the praisers in front to lead us"
    The king wanted to give the Praise Leader a special request. Can we read into this? I think we can.
    I'm new here and am honored to be numbered with brothers and sisters in Christ with such knowledge as yours. Thanks.