Friday, January 22, 2016

A Brief Argument For Singing the Psalms

Foundational Principles

1. The Sufficiency of the Psalms
2 Tim 3:16
God's Word is sufficient for His people. It lacks nothing.
The Psalms were written by God for singing.
The 150 Psalms of the Bible are a perfectly sufficient hymn book for the church of God through the ages.

2. The Regulative Principle of Worship
Deut 12:32, 2 Chron 29:30, Ephes. 5.19, Col. 3.16
God determines how His people are to approach Him in worship. God has commanded His people to sing the Psalms of the Bible when they gather together for worship. He has not commanded them to sing songs of their own composition.

The WCF clearly teaches the RPW. To consistently apply the RPW, then you must exclude songs not commanded by God for worship.
WCF 21.1: But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.

WCF 21.5:  The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear , the sound preaching  and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart (Col 3:16Eph 5:19Jas 5:131 Cor 14:15); as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God beside religious oaths, and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasion, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.

3. The Continuity of the Covenant
Luke 24:44
Jesus Himself claimed that the Psalms were about Him. The person and work of Jesus Christ is wonderfully foreshadowed in the Book of Psalms. Would it not seem strange if the people of God were commanded to sing the Psalms only until the time of Christ's appearing, and then to put them aside once they were able to fully appreciate their true meaning?
The glory of the Psalms is precisely in their unfolding of the covenant promises of God and realized in the work of Jesus. As heirs of the New Covenant, we sing praise to God for the fulfillment of his promises throughout the ages. Further, by anchoring the church's praise in the prophecies of the Old Testament through the book of Psalms, God's people are continually reminded of their heritage among the chosen people of God throughout the ages.

4. The Purpose of Worship
Lev 10:1, John 4:24
Worship is to be God-centered, not man-centered.
Man-centered worship focuses on the feelings of the worshiper.
God-centered worship focuses on the object of worship, seeking to approach God "in spirit and in truth."
Our purpose in worship must never be to devise means of approaching God which we imagine will be pleasing to Him. Instead, let us determine to approach Him according to His own design, and to focus our attention upon praising Him in obedience to His will.

Some Benefits of Singing the Psalms

1. They are Without Error
Matthew 5:48, Romans 12:2, James 1:17
When we gather to offer corporate praise, we are entering the presence of the Father in a special way. Our prayers and our worship songs are presented before the throne of the most High. Should we not be concerned that what we offer to Him in praise is perfect and without blemish even as He is perfect?

1. They Promote Scripture Memorization
Repetition of singing is one of the best methods for memorization.

2. The Carry the Power of the Spirit
Hebrews 4:12
We have no promise from God that the words of men will pierce the heart and administer grace to His people. But we have such a promise with regard to God's own Word. A good hymn may stir the emotions, but the Word of God pierces the heart.

3. The Properly Balance Themes
If left to our own devices, we might tend to sing songs in worship that focus almost exclusively upon the themes that we find most appealing (such as grace, love and salvation) while laying aside the themes that are less outwardly appealing (such as judgment and condemnation of the wicked). A review of most hymnals corroborates this. The book of Psalms contains many beautiful pictures of the grace, love and salvation offered by God through Jesus Christ while not shying away from His righteous judgment.

4. They Provide a Basis for Unity
Hymn books found in typical evangelical churches tend to reflect the particular theological heritage and convictions of the churches who use them. There are hymns containing doctrinal statements with which Christians from another denominational background might disagree. But there is no such difficulty with the Psalms. They are the very Word of God. Imagine the unity among Christians if instead of filling our minds with regular doses of our pet doctrines, we would be filling our hearts with God's Word and learning together from the grand themes of the Biblical Psalms.

May God lead each of us to an ever deeper understanding of what it means to worship Him "in spirit and in truth."

Adapted from "The Church's Perfect Hymnbook," by Douglas W. Comin

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