From the beginning of time immemorial, men have gone to war with the sound of music ringing in their ears and echoing in their hearts. The drum, the fife, and the bugle have all been effective weapons of war. History shows us that military bands and tunes have steeled nerves, produced order, sparked bravery, fostered unity and renewed hope during times of war. During the America Civil War in 1864, Confederate General, Robert E. Lee wrote, “I don’t think we could have an army without music.” In 1865, his Union rival, General Philip Sheridan ordered his bands forward with the order to “play the gayest tunes . . . play them loud and keep playing them and never mind even if a bullet goes through the trombone, or even the trombonist, now and then.” Interestingly, music was so much a part of the Civil War that by 1861 the U.S. Army had 618 bands composed of 28,000 musicians, which equals one bandsman for every 41 soldiers. On the Confederate side, estimates suggest a similar ratio. It must be said however, that not all military commanders were convinced that trumpets trumped rifles, or music, muskets. When Confederate Commander Daniel H. Hill received a request from an infantryman asking to transfer to a band in February 1862, the rebel leader replied, “Respectfully forwarded, disapproved. Shooters are more needed than tooters.”
In 2 Chronicles 20 there is a story that intersects with this thought of music and warfare, shooters and tooters. The time is 850 B.C. and the godly leader Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, is facing a threat from the southeast. The advancing Ammonites, Moabites, and others are threatening the peace and prosperity of his kingdom (2 Chron. 20:1-2). In distress and desperation King Jehoshaphat seeks the Lord for wisdom as to what to do next. In response, God answers him through a Levite by the name of Jahaziel, who tells the king that the battle is not his but the Lord’s (2 Chron. 20:3-17). Miraculously and marvelously they would not need to fight in this battle for God would do the fighting for them (2 Chron. 20:17). Armed with this truth Jehoshaphat marshals the people of God and sends them into battle with choirs and musicians leading the charge (2 Chron. 20:18-21). The people of God praise Him for what He has promised and God decimates the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chron. 20:22-24). Jehoshaphat along with the people of Judah return to Jerusalem victorious without lifting a sword (2 Chron. 20:25-30). Tooters, not shooters had won the day (2 Chron. 20:28-29). Worshipping warriors had won this war!
It was a worshipping army that saw victory in Jehoshaphat’s day (2 Chron. 20:22). It was a singing church that marched across the world with the gospel (Acts 2:46-47). It seems to me that music and worship are effective weapons of spiritual warfare (Psa. 149:6). In a very real sense, we as Christians can sing our way to victory. For example, when we worship God through Christ in the Gospel: one, we invite the presence of God (Psalm 22:3 KJV); two, we incite the pleasure of God (Psa. 92:1-4, 10-11); and, three, we ignite the power of God (Acts 16:25-26). It is just as Mary Schlosser, a missionary to China used to say, “I sing the doxology and dismiss the devil.”
Worship puts God front and center and that always spells victory!