"SPEAKING TO YOURSELVES IN PSALMS"
September 1, 1998 Issue
by Brett Hickey
The authority of Christ is required for our religious practices (Col. 3:16-17). Where are instruments authorized? When pressed to defend their practice, some claim to find authority in Eph. 5:19. Let us focus briefly on the assumption that Paul sanctions the use of all Old Testament psalms. Since OT psalms mention instruments, are they not sanctioned for use in public worship?
When reading this passage, our religious friends visualize church psalm-books. In their opinion, these psalm-books could include any Old Testament psalm set to music. On the surface, this argument has merit. Read the psalms again! The sentiment of some psalms clearly clashes with Christ's teaching.
One Davidic psalm that proves this point in Psalm 144. The musician writes, "Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight..." (Ps. 144:1). The most intense instrumentalist would be hard-pressed to harmonize this scripture with Matt. 5:44. Jesus flatly declares, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
Even more incompatible with the doctrine of Christ (Mat. 18:1-6) is a psalm of vengeance against Israel's bitter, political enemy. The psalmist proclaims, "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against stones" (Ps. 137:9). This may have worked for David the warrior King, but what religious group would want that in their hymnal? The confusion over the psalms should be remedied by Paul's repeated writings on the covenants. A sampling could include Rom. 7:1-7; Gal. 3:10-25; Col. 2:14-17; Heb. 8:6- 13. These and other passages warn Christians not to rely on the Old Testament to justify their practices. Paul's most concise clarification if in Gal. 5:4. He writes, "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (NKJV)," This pointed scripture also unarms those who expect God's grace to overlook willful disobedience.
Lamentably, this overwhelming arsenal of scriptures only stimulates more "cunning
devised fables" among instrumental music advocates. "Well," they say, "all this talk about
the law only applies to the first five books of Moses. Anything else from the Old Testament
that is not specifically condemned in the New Testament is acceptable." Paul reminds
Corinth as well as 20th century Christians: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal
by mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high
thing that exalts itself against he knowledge of God, bringing every though into captivity to
the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 104-5--NKJV)" the word of God serves a the "sword to the
spirit." This sword cuts through all the double-talk.
The Old Testament Psalms are an indisputable part of the old law. In Rom. 3:10-19, Paul quotes from at least five different Psalms. Then he says that "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them under the law..." Quoting from Ps. 82:6 Jesus answered the bloodthirsty Jews, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? (Jn. 10:34)" A similar proof can be found in Jn. 15:25.
Upon examination, the texts presented to justify drums, guitars and pianos can only be used in defending the first century practice of praising with the "fruit of our lips". Let us unite on that which is right and cannot be wrong.
Other OPA Article Links:
- Musical Instruments
Music- In Worship
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