Well, that really is a loaded question, isn’t it? You may say, “how do we know what God likes?” There are so many styles of worship music to choose from, ranging all the way from classical to rap and everything in between! When it comes to worship, you may feel His presence while listening to a heavy metal song with a driving beat; or you may prefer some classic anthems of praise sung by an anointed choir. Some people like to stomp their feet and tap their toes to Southern Gospel; many people get it on to Black Gospel (one of my personal favorites!) because the sheer energy and rhythm of the song makes it virtually impossible not to clap, dance and move about! Of course, these same styles of music sung at a slower pace can cause a flood of emotions through the sheer beauty of the chords, bringing tears to our eyes and healing to our spirits.
How can this be, you ask? What is there about music that touches us so deeply? It’s simply because musical patterns have been scientifically created by the Great Musician, our wonderful God we serve! That is why some chords sound right together and others just don’t work. When you choose to go against the natural patterns He created, you have what is called “dissonance”. I believe Satan is the author of much discord in music, but that is another subject for another day. There is nothing more intrinsically “spiritual” about one type of musical pattern over another. Now, of course, putting words to the music can bring out emotions, but music itself is not “spiritual”. This is why musicians hundreds of years ago could take the common “bar tunes” of the day and put words of praise and worship magnifying God that we sing today as the “old hymns of the church”! The question then is: How is God blessed and moved by our worship of Him? What style does He appreciate? The Word says “He inhabits, or lives in, our praises” so it seems to me that music uplifting Him, of any genre, is first and foremost what He enjoys if our hearts are totally directed towards Him in our worship! The Word is replete with examples of worship pleasing to our Lord. If you would like to do a study on which forms of worship God encourages, the following passages will be helpful:
Shouts of praise: “Shout for joy to God, all the earth;” (Psalm 66:1, ESV); “So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting…” (I Chronicles 15:28, ESV)
Singing: “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” (Psalm 47:6, ESV) Also check out I Chronicles 16:9 “Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (ESV); Psalm 66:4, Psalm 68:32, Psalm 96:1 (“Oh sing to the Lord a new song…”); Colossians 3:16, and on and on! There are literally hundreds of verses about singing in the Word of God.
Tambourines and Lyres: “They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.” (Job 21:12, ESV)
Cymbals and Trumpets: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:5, ESV); “The singers…were to sound bronze cymbals;” (I Chronicles 15:19 (ESV); “Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song.” (I Chronicles 16:42, ESV); “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet” (Psalm 150:3, KJV).
Making merry; rejoicing in song: “And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs….” (2 Samuel 6:5, ESV); “And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song…” (I Chronicles 13:8, ESV)
Playing and singing together: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings (how many fingers do you have…could this be clapping?). Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” (Psalm 33:2 and 3, KJV)
Clapping unto the Lord: “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Psalm 47:1, ESV)
Stringed instruments and organs: “Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” (Psalm 150:4, KJV)
Dancing: “Praise him with the timbrel and dance:” (Psalm 150:4a, KJV); “Let them praise his name in the dance:” (Psalm 149:3, KJV)
Lifting of hands: “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” (Psalm 134:2, KJV); “I desire then that in every place men should pray, lifting holy hands…” (I Timothy 2:8, ESV)
There are literally hundreds more verses on this subject of music and worship in both the Old and New Testaments. To answer the question: It is obvious that God likes many different styles of music for He created all music! All through the Word, we are told to worship with joy, loud praises, shouting, and thankfulness. Worship is to be a happy, exuberant experience! In a day and age where everything is specialized and carved out in little niches to try and please everybody (a literal impossibility!), perhaps we can depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to show what the music we employ to worship the King of the Universe in the corporate setting should sound like! I pray we will all worship Him “in spirit and in truth” as Jesus said that “true worshippers” would do in John 4:23,24. It’s time to stop going through the motions and worship from our hearts!