On this Lord’s Day, we will once again concern ourselves with the matter of what we are to sing in the public worship of God. As has been stated in the previous weeks, the elders of Hope Baptist Church have come under the conviction of the Exclusive Psalmody position, which can be succinctly stated as the belief that in Worship, the Church is only to sing the Psalms. And if someone were to ask you “why?”, your one sentence elevator answer would be, “because the New Testament has no command to sing anything other than the Psalms, and anything God does not command in worship, is forbidden.” Pastor Brandon has dealt with those New Testament texts in the previous weeks. But today I want to take some time to show you that there is an entire foundation of Exclusive Psalmody that is laid throughout the biblical history of the Old Testament through the New, which sets an even fuller biblical context to the New Testament commands we see.
The other issue is that today, in the modern western evangelical context in which we all were raised and currently find ourselves, many Christians, and even Calvinistic Christians have not even heard of the Exclusive Psalmody position. So in our flesh, it could be that some of us may struggle with the temptation to not want to be weird amongst our other Christian friends outside this church, or the reformed tradition. Now I think we all would recognize that that sort of thing ought to have precisely zero bearing on our obedience to Christ, nevertheless, I want to take some time today as well to show you that Exclusive Psalm singing not only has a biblical foundation and command, but also is, though a forgotten, a rich and widely and deeply held position of a dominating portion of our Church history, and especially it is part of our reformed heritage. So, when you tell your other friends that you only sing the Psalms at your church, and they say, “that’s weird,” you can say, in love and jest of course, “no, you’re actually weird, the reformed have always sang only the Psalms.” Of course that is a general statement, there has been disagreement and debate in history, but I will show that it is a dominant position, and we moderns are in the minority.
First, let us begin with inspired history, in the Old Testament of our Bibles. We are going to be looking at lots of different passages in the Bible today, so I would recommend you have your Bibles ready so you can turn to each place and see for yourself. I first want to begin just by stating my thesis or argument from Biblical history, and then we’ll walk through the relevant passages of Scripture. So here it is:
A Requirement for Songs of Worship is that they be Given by God Himself. This means songs for worship were to be written by a prophet, or written by someone in the office of music ministry – which was an office for Levitical priests (The Sons of Korah). The New Testament no longer has an office of songwriter for the worship of God (or a command to write songs for worship). In the post-apostolic era, there are no more prophets given. Therefore, there are no songs to be written for worship today.
Songs were not sung in worship until they were given by God through His prophets.
The first thing that we notice as we walk through biblical history as it regards the worship of God is that songs are not sung in worship until they were given by God through His prophets. There are no songs introduced in worship until God introduces them, and they are introduced as God gives them. Songs are not given by God until Moses, out of all the patriarchs, there were none. While there are a few given through Moses, it is during the time of David the most prominent Psalmist, that God begins to really pour out His songs on His people for worship. So this is a very important first principle to note, that songs were not sung in worship until God gave them through His prophets. This fact begins to lay the foundation for us to understand that we do not have the freedom to introduce our own songs into worship.
Songs for Worship were written by those with the prophetic gift.
The next piece of framework, to state it again, but more clearly: when we look at Biblical history, songs for worship were written by those with the prophetic gift. And when I say prophet or prophetic gift, I do not simply mean the ability to tell the future, but the gift of receiving special revelation from God and speaking that revelation. For example, not all of the Bible is of the prophetic genre, yet in another sense, all of the Bible is prophesy, in the sense that it was all given by God to those who wrote it, it is inspired special revelation.
Not only can we see this by observing the fact that those who wrote songs for worship had the prophetic gift, which we will look at in a moment, but also we see a direct connection of prophesying with the Temple Music Ministry. 1 Chronicles 25:1-7:
David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei,[a] Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with the lyre in thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. 4 Of Heman, the sons of Heman: Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamti-ezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, Mahazioth. 5 All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. 6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king. 7 The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the Lord, all who were skillful, was 288.
Here we have an explicit passage that shows us that temple music and song had a prophetic aspect to it. Songs for worship were written by those with this prophetic gift.
Another thing to note here is that there are several songs throughout the Bible that are sung on special occasions, that are not in the Psalter. I will come back and address that more a little later, but I will simply say that special occasions are just that: special occasions. They are not part of the ordinary or perpetual pattern of worship. So when Israel is led to a well of water in the middle of the desert and they sing “spring up O well,” we can plainly see that that is a special occasion – a unique circumstance. Nevertheless, for every song that I can tell, that the author of it is told to us, that was sung on various special occasions, it was still written by a prophet. Moses, Miriam, Deborah, etc. – they are all prophets or in the case of the women, a prophetess – scripture calls them that.
Having said that, I want to look at each of the Psalm writers. We might as well start with Moses since we mentioned him already. Psalm 90 is credited to Moses.
Was Moses a prophet? Yes. At the death of Moses, Deuteronomy 34:10 tells us, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do…”
What about David? David obviously wrote the most. The Psalms are often referred to in shorthand as the Psalms of David even though there were others as well. 2 Samuel 23:1 calls David “the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel…” Furthermore, Acts 2:29-31 tells us:
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
Another Psalm writer was Asaph. He wrote several, one being Psalm 82, which we sing. In 2 Chronicles 29:30 Asaph is called a seer. What is a seer? 1 Samuel 9:9 tells us that a seer is a prophet. It says this, “Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he said, ‘Come, let us go to the seer,’ for today’s ‘prophet’ was formerly called a seer.”
There is another man who is attributed Psalm 88. Here is the entire inscription of Psalm 88, “A song. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. To the choirmaster: according to Mahalath Leannoth. A Maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.” So Heman the Ezrahite was one of the Sons of Korah, which we will come back to. But Heman was also a seer. 1 Chronicles 25:5 he is called the King’s seer. He was one who David appointed to the task of the music service. He was also the grandson of Samuel the prophet. Also in 1 Kings 4:31, it is describing the great wisdom of King Solomon and it says that Solomon was “wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman…”
That leads us to Ethan the Ezrahite, who is mentioned here as one of the wisest men. He also was a Psalm writer. Psalm 89 is attributed to Ethan the Ezrahite who we saw was one of the King’s seers. In 1 Chronicles 15, he is among the Levites who were appointed by David to the task of the music ministry. Furthermore, there are some who believe, Charles Spurgeon being one, that Ethan is actually the same person as Jeduthun, who is another Psalm writer, who is called the King’s seer in 2 Chronicles 35:15. So there’s Ethan and/or Jeduthun.
Other Psalm writers are the Sons of Korah, who have several attributed to them. Now one thing to note with them, is that when a Psalm is said to be of the Sons of Korah, we are not told which one of them it is, except when we are told that, like with Heman. So it could be a number of different people, but the Sons of Korah was a family with many prophets, one being the prophet Samuel, Heman, and others. They were descendents of Levi, so they were of the levitical priestly line. They were those who David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD as it says in 1 Chronicles 6.
Finally we have King Solomon, who wrote Psalm 72. As well as the Song of Songs. And Scripture also tells us that Solomon wrote over a thousand other songs. What do we know about Solomon? He was the wisest man to ever live, we read how he was wiser even than the wisest seers, who received revelation from God. This is because Solomon also had the prophetic gift and received revelation from God. 2 Chronicles 9:23, “And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into His mind.”
Having shown you all these examples, I will say that we don’t even need the Scripture to tell us that each person had the prophetic gift who wrote songs for Worship, because, we know that they did, by virtue of the fact that the songs they wrote are inspired and given to us in the canon of Scripture. That itself, that their songs are in the canon of scripture, in the book of praises, is sufficient to know that each one had the prophetic gift of revelation from God. Nevertheless, the Scripture still shows us all these examples, and I thought it would be helpful to see them.
The Old Testament Reformations/Restorations of Worship, was a Return to Singing These Prophetic Songs
So far what we have seen is that a requirement of worship songs is that they were not introduced until God gave them, and God gave them through those with a prophetic gift. We know that God gave these songs over time. He did not just drop down the book of Psalms completed and unabridged. He gave them over time. As time goes on with Israel, they disobey and pervert the worship of God. There are bad kings and good kings. I want us to look at an extremely important time in Israel’s history, as it relates to this issue. The Reign of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29. He began to reign at age 25. Those before him, they sinned and they ceased the worship of God in the temple. So 2 Chronicles 29 describes Hezekiah restoring the temple and temple worship. Let’s read 2 Chronicles 29:25-30:
25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the Lord through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.
Hezekiah restored the commands of David for temple worship, because they were the commands of the LORD that he spoke through His prophet David. So when we read about David organizing the temple worship, he did so because it was God’s command. David didn’t dream it up, or implement his preferences. It was the command of God. Second very important thing that we didn’t read, but will now in verse 35 of 2 Chron. 29:
Besides the great number of burnt offerings, there was the fat of the peace offerings, and there were the drink offerings for the burnt offerings. Thus the service of the house of the Lord was restored.
So notice, Hezekiah makes these reforms, and the Scripture tells us that these changes Hezekiah made was the restoration of temple worship. It was the service of the House of the LORD restored, meaning that it was brought back to what it was supposed to be. So what is the important part of its restoration for our purposes today? It’s in verse 30:
And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.
The restoration of worship was a restoring of singing the songs of David and Asaph…what were their songs? They were songs given by God. They were the Psalms. Part of the restoration of worship, even then, was a return to singing the Psalms. This account is a biblical and inspired account of reformation and restoration of worship, and it includes a return to singing the Psalms. Any true reformation will include a return to singing the Psalms, and any reformation that does not, still has reforming to do.
A Requirement for Songs of Worship is that they be Given by God Himself
So far we have seen that songs are not used in worship until God gives them. So songs for God must be given by God. We have seen God gave them through His prophets. Most prominently David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel. Through David, God commanded certain of the Levites to be in charge of the music ministry of the temple. We have also seen that when biblical worship is restored, it is a return to singing the words of David and Asaph, which are the words of God, in the Psalms, and those only.
With those being the requirements laid out in Biblical history, we must recognize that we live in the era of the post-apostolic church wherein the gift of prophecy has ceased. There are no more prophets given. The office of prophet that received new special revelation from God has ceased. Furthermore, in the New Testament, there has been no institution of any sort of office of song writer or music minister for New Covenant Worship. Those were prophetic offices held by certain Levites, and has not been instituted for New Covenant Worship. Therefore, all of this means, that there are not to be songs written for the public worship of God today, in the era in which we live. The criteria for doing so, cannot be met. Put all of that with the positive commands for song in the New Testament, and as Pastor Brandon preached last week, the only command for what to sing we have is the command to sing the Psalms. And what we need is a positive command or warrant in order to do something in New Covenant Worship.
Now you might ask, but what about those other songs in the Old Testament that were given by God through prophets like Moses, Miriam, Deborah, Solomon, many of the other major and minor prophets had songs? What about those? They are certainly inspired, given by God through a prophet. To that I simply say, 1) the positive new testament commands for what to sing are all references to the Psalter; 2) we find that these other songs are not given for the perpetual use of the church in worship, as they are not included in the Psalter, rather they are sung on unique occasions, and not a pattern of normative worship. As we saw, the pattern of normative and commanded worship is singing the words of David and Asaph the Seer, the Psalms.
Christ Institutes Psalm Singing for New Covenant Worship
But this is not all of Biblical history on the subject. We get to the gospels, and near the end of Jesus’ life, before He is arrested, He institutes the Lord’s Supper for the New Covenant. Matthew 26:26 and following. He gives them the wine and says this is the new covenant in my blood, or this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Then, Matthew 26:30, in the very same context tells us, “and when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Now, when a modern person reads that, like us, our first reaction is to think, “Oh, they sang a hymn, like Amazing Grace.” But is that true? No. Brandon showed last week how this is a reference to the Psalms. This is the Scripture Hymns. There was no context for them at all to have such a thing as hymnody like we think of it today. Without getting into a hard to follow technical explanation, I’ll just say that the words in our Bibles that are translated into hymn, and praise, are the same words used to describe the Psalms in the original languages. So that is what they sung. In fact this is also the same word that comes up in Acts 16:25 which says “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them…” Paul and Silas were singing the Psalms in jail. Isn’t that amazing?
So, all of that to say, when Christ institutes the Lord’s Supper for the New Covenant, in the same context, He also institutes the singing of Psalms for New Covenant Worship. And He does not institute the singing of anything else. In fact, we do not have a single example in all of Scripture of Jesus singing anything other than the Psalms. It just simply does not exist. The only thing that we know for sure Jesus sang, was the Psalms.
We only ever see the Apostolic Church singing Psalms
What about the Apostolic Church in the New Testament? What do we see them singing? We only ever see them singing the Psalms. Nothing else do we have example of them singing. We have Paul’s instruction to sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in Ephesians and Colossians, which Brandon showed was a reference to the Psalter. James 5 instructs us to sing Psalms. And we have 1 Corinthians 14:26, which just says Psalms. Even if you are one who believes that these are prophetic utterances in 1 Cor. 14, it was just that: the prophetic gifts that were unique to their time, and not something that continues past the apostolic age, nor were their prophetic utterances canonized for us to have. Quite simply, whatever their prophesying was, if it is not recorded in Scripture, it is not for us.
Now you may hear some people point to poetic parts of Paul’s letters for example and say that Paul is quoting from an early church hymn. Places like the Carmen Christi in Philippians 2, it’s very poetic and beautiful. But to assert that it was a hymn of the church, is entirely conjecture. For every example like you could point to, there is zero reference to it being a hymn or something that was sung in the text of Scripture. Zero. There is also zero historical documentation of any of these things being hymns. So instead of asserting that these were hymns, we should simply recognize that Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit could write poetically at times. Scripture is filled with poetry that are not songs sung in worship.
The first man-made hymns that we have actual documentable evidence of is not until the fourth century. And do you know who wrote them? The Arians, who were heretics denying the divinity of Christ. Up to that point we have no record of the Church singing anything but Psalms. Arius’ great opponent was Athanasius, whom I love. Athanasius himself has an entire work on Psalm singing that we have preserved today.
So at this point I want to take a very quick walk through Church History and look at a few important figures or movements that were Exclusive Psalmists. Now of course post-biblical church history is not authoritative or inerrant, nor is this about getting a head count and seeing which side has the most people. I simply want to show that the Exclusive Psalmody position is not unique or weird or obscure, but it is extremely common throughout our church history.
Eusebius: Early Church historian Eusebius who lived in the 3rd and 4th century said this, “The command to sing Psalms in the name of the Lord was obeyed by everyone in every place.”
St. Augustine of Hippo: Augustine of Hippo who lived in the third and fourth century tells us that the Psalms are “sung through the whole world.”
Laodicea: There was a church council in 360 A.D., the council of Laodicea which said, “that no psalms composed by uninspired men should be used in the Church service.”
Braga: In the earlier medieval period, there was a council called the council of Braga, which was held in the 560s A.D. and they stated that “no poetic composition be sung in the Church except the Psalms of the sacred canon…”
Reformation: When we get to the reformation era of the 1500s, the recovery of Psalm singing was a hallmark of the reformation. Which quickly developed for many into exclusive psalmody. There are countless stories of various groups singing the Psalms in persecution and in prison, such as the Huguenots, the Scottish Covenanters, and others during the English reformation.
John Calvin is very interesting and a bit difficult to know what his position was, and I’d love to talk more about him in the Q&A, but suffice it to say for now, that the final edition of Genevan Psalter in 1562, contained the entire 150 Psalms, and zero human compositions. In the preface to his Psalter he says this, “For what St. Augustine said is true, that one can sing nothing worthy of God save what one has received from Him. Wherefore though we look far and wide we will find no better songs nor songs more suitable to that purpose than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit made and imparted to him. Thus, singing them we may be sure that our words come from God just as if He were to sing in us for His own exaltation. Wherefore, Chrysostom exhorts men, women, and children alike to get used to singing them, so as through this act of meditation to become as one with the choir of angels.” Calvin continues, “And therefore the present book needs little recommendation from me, seeing that in and of itself it possesses its own value and sings its own praise. Only let the world have the good sense henceforth to leave off singing those songs—in part vain and frivolous, in part stupid and dull, in part foul and vile and in consequence evil and destructive—which it has availed itself of up to now, and to use these divine and heavenly canticles with good King David.”
Dutch Reformed: In the 16th century, the Dutch Reformed Churches held multiple councils which affirmed the exclusive singing of Psalms: “The Psalms of David, in the edition of Petrus Dathenus, shall be sung in the Christian meetings of the Netherlands Churches (as has been done until now), abandoning the hymns which are not found in Holy Scripture.” –National Synod of Dort, 1578, Art. 76. “Only the Psalms of David shall be sung in the church, omitting the hymns which one cannot find in Holy Scripture.” –National Synod of Middelburg, 1581, Art. 51. “The Psalms of David shall be sung in the churches, omitting the hymns which one does not find in Holy Scripture.” –National Synod of Gravenhage, 1586, Art. 62.
Westminster Divines: We also have the 17th century Westminster Divines, or theologians in other words. These were the English Presbyterians who authored the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Westminster Confession teaches the Regulative Principle of Worship, and then it tells us the elements of worship, and in that list they say, “the singing of Psalms.” There is no mention of any other songs that are acceptable in worship. Furthermore, the Westminster Divines wrote what is called the Directory for Public Worship where they laid out how their churches were to conduct worship, in which they have a section on singing the Psalms and it says this, “It is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. In singing of psalms, the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord. That the whole congregation may join herein, every one that can read is to have a psalm book; and all others, not disabled by age or otherwise, are to be exhorted to learn to read. But for the present, where many in the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers, do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof.”
There is no mention or permission given to sing anything other than the Psalms. Now there are some who say that the term “Psalm” was used in that day to describe non-scriptural songs as well. While some people may have done that, that is clearly not what was intended by the Westminster Divines. You see the Westminster Assembly also approved what song books were to be used in public worship. What song book did they approve? They approved the Scottish Psalter which were metrical Psalms only. They did not approve any song book that contained man made hymns. The Westminster Standards are that of Exclusive Psalmody.
17th century English Particular Baptists: But we’re not Presbyterians, so what about our Particular Baptists forebears? Our 1689 confession states that we are to sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This of course is a direct quotation from Ephesians and Colossians. It seems the reason they opted for simply quoting this Scriptural phrase was to allow for the diversity of interpretation among them, since they practiced local church autonomy. And when we look at the leading 17th Century Particular Baptists we find that they were quite the mixed bag. There were a number of churches, early on in the 17th century, who did not sing at all in public worship. Then you had guys like Benjamin Keach who introduced man-made hymn singing into worship. But then you also had exclusive Psalmists, like Nehemiah Coxe among the particular baptists. Overtime, it seems many of them went with Keach on the issue, though we certainly have exclusive psalmody particular baptist roots to draw from.
Early American Baptists: The early American Baptists, many of them did not sing in worship, and the ones that did, sang only the Psalms.
Early American Puritans: More largely you have the early American puritans of the early 1600s. The overwhelming majority of them sang only the Psalms. In fact, the very first book that was printed in America was The Bay Psalm Book, which was a metrical psalter. It was widely used and used for a long time, and was translated into English Meter, by several Hebrew Scholars that were pastors among the early American Puritans.
Presently: Since the rise of secular “enlightenment” the church at large has experienced widespread downgrade in many areas, and Psalm singing has fallen on hard times. Nevertheless the practice of Exclusive Psalm singing has been maintained throughout the years, though small in number for recent years. Today we are seeing a resurgence in Psalm singing and it is exciting to see, and pray God would turn it into a return to exclusive psalm singing. Though this may be new to us, and there are no other churches in our city who sing the psalms exclusively, there is, every Lord’s Day, thousands of churches across North America that worship God in song, only singing the 150 Psalms of David. Just this passed week Brandon and I have discovered that there a number of Reformed Baptist Churches that we know of who sing exclusively from the Psalter. The RPCNA is an EP Acapella denomination, and we have a couple of their churches in our state and a good number throughout the Midwest. There are a number of others as well that I know of who practice this.
When you look at all the ills of the modern evangelical church, there are a few things that a return to the exclusive singing of Psalms in worship would do to cure those ills. But Church, we should first look at ourselves. What sins or weaknesses in us are there, that would not be benefited greatly by the exclusive singing of Psalms? Worship is a means of grace that God has given to His people to strengthen our faith and sanctify our lives, and if God has given us a book of songs to sing in worship and we have not been singing from it, you can imagine how we are not being benefited as greatly as God would design for us. How will we and the church be benefited by a return to the exclusive singing of the Psalms that God has given us? Here are a few of those possible benefits:
The Benefits of the Psalms
- The Word of Christ will dwell in us richly.
- We will Know our Bibles better.
- We will receive the proper diet that we need (God knows better than us what we need)
- Return of imprecations (much needed for the wicked abounding today)
- Our prayer life and devotional life will improve, as we learn the language of the Psalms, and how David prays.
- We’ll be challenged and uncomfortable at times.
- We will be wielding powerful weapons (God’s word is living and active sharper than any double edged sword, singing prayers)
- In our own lives we will be cut up with the Word of God and offered as a living sacrifice to God. Also in the world: God responds to His Word to judge or save. The wicked will be judged and the nations will be saved.
- No one will be able to idolize or attribute praise wrongly to song-writers. These are the songs God wrote. No one will be able to be ruled by their preferences or “camp” in worship saying, “I’m with Watts, or I’m with Wesley, or I’m with Getty.”
- Christians will be compelled to use their gifts, skills, and abilities to bless their neighbor instead of thinking they must use those things only in the worship of the church.
- No one will be able to abuse and use the Worship of God to jumpstart their music career, or be the place where they act out their music career since they can’t make it in the industry.
- Ladies especially, the Psalms give you a Scripturally sanctioned way to deal with emotions.
- Prepares us for the day of battle, for the gulag – and actually for any and every day. A Psalm for every occasion.
- Infallible, perfect theology
- No wasted words, no unnecessary words.
- We will never be justified in entering worship with a prideful or nitpicking attitude about the songs we are singing. It is the Word of God, and we are to be humble before it and accept it.
- Unifying, catholicity, across denominational distinctives. What do man-made hymns bring? Division, Baptist hymnal, Methodist hymnal, Trinity hymnal, etc.
- We will know that every single song we sing is perfectly acceptable to God. It is exactly what He wants and enjoys in worship.
I once read a thread from an EP pastor who outlined some distinctions between the Psalter and the Hymnal. They are as follows:
- The Psalter infallibly reveals Christ. The hymnal doesn’t.
- The Psalter has many Psalms of lament-confession of sin-contrition. The hymnal has a few at best.
- Book of Psalms have only about 6 Psalms that don’t speak of the enemies of God and His people. Do our hymnals keep this ratio?
- Psalms sing of God’s vengeance and wrath regularly. The hymnal doesn’t.
- The Psalter has imprecatory Psalms. The hymnal doesn’t.
- The Psalter addresses barren women in a comforting manner. Does the hymnal?
- The Psalter addresses depression. Does the hymnal? The hymnal can give an overly optimistic view of the ordinary Christian life.
- The Psalter has several Psalms explicitly warning kings, presidents and judges of their accountability before God. Does the hymnal? It does have American Patriotic songs.
- The Psalter brings the worshiper into inter-trinitarian conversations between the Father and the Son as revealed by the Spirit. Think Psalm 2, 22, 40, 110, and 118 to mention just a few as examples. Does the hymnal?
- The Psalter gives Holy Spirit directed revelation of the mind of Christ in His prayers and responses to blessing and trials. We get to see how Jesus prayed and praised. Does the hymnal?
- All 150 Psalms are God-breathed and divinely made profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. Is the hymnal?
- All 150 Psalms are alive and sharper than any two edged sword about to lay us bare before the God with whom we have to do. Is the hymnal?
- The Psalter is inerrant. Is the hymnal?
- The Psalter is quoted in the NT and used in apostolic proclamation of Christ. Are uninspired hymns sung for worship in the Bible? No.
- The Psalter was sufficient for Jesus Chris as part of His worship of God as a human. Any example of Him using uninspired worship material?
- The Psalter is truly Christocentric in a manner and quality that can only be obtained by the Holy Spirit. Is the hymnal?
Church, have you thought about the fact that God wrote songs. God wrote songs. And He gave them to us, and He tells us to sing them.
Church, the EP position shows us that God supplies what He demands. God demands songs of praise, He gives us the songs of praise that He demands. God doesn’t command us to do something and leave us wondering how to do it, or if we’re doing it correctly, or good enough. Rather, He has graciously supplied us with the songs of praise He demands of us.
When we come into worship we do not bring to worship our ways of worshipping God. We don’t bring our material and works of the will to offer God. It is not our will or abilities that we are to bring to God. Instead, God condescends to us. He condescends to give us His perfect songs. God demands that we praise Him, and He gives us the songs that He has demanded, for us to praise Him with, so that we can rest assured it is pleasing to God. Church, this is itself a reflection of the gospel. God demands holiness. God demands a blood sacrifice to atone for our sins. We have neither. We are sinful people and there is not enough blood of bulls and goats to atone for our sins. Yet, in the gospel, those things that God has demanded, He has supplied. He demands a blood sacrifice for our sins, He supplies that blood sacrifice with the death of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus. He demands righteousness. We have none. He supplies it, clothing us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That God supplies what He demands is the very heart of the gospel. And this is ought to be reflected in our worship, for the way that we worship, reflects how it is that we approach the God we worship.
The purity of the gospel is connected to the purity of our worship. The result of the gospel having effect in the lives of a people is worship. And the way that we worship reflects how we are made at peace with God. And that way, is not by offering up our own works to Him, or our own words to Him, or our own efforts to Him, but it is by Him give His works to us, Him working for us, Him supplying to us what we need.