Colossians 3:16 opens by commanding: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you …” — and then instructs us that one way that is to happen is through our music and worship: “… with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
This verse teaches us some important things about our worship songs:
— First and most important, they are to be a means of the word of God richly dwelling in us. In other words, they must be scripturally-based. I am appreciative of Trinity Norman’s minister of music, Randy Presley, who has a commitment to read the words of songs before he ever listens to the melody, to ensure that the songs are really scripturally based and do not just have a “catchy” tune. Our worship music must be based on the word of God.
— We also see here that there is obviously a variety of music which can be used in our worship. Three different terms are used to describe the songs that we are to employ: “psalms”, “hymns”, and “spiritual songs.” This should correct any misunderstanding among us that there is only “one” type of song that is appropriate for worship!
— And finally, we are commanded to sing these various scriptural songs from “your hearts.” Nothing we are to do in worship should become “routine” or “rote.” It is the heart that matters to God: “those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)
If we can balance the truths found in Colossians 3:16, and sing from our hearts a variety of scripturally-based songs, then we will have taken a big step towards the verse’s command to let God’s word richly dwell in us.