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Sermons & Study Guides

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God Pt. 16 - Of Singing Of Psalms.

James Dodson

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God

Of Singing Of Psalms.

Question  1.—Is  it  the  duty  of  Christians  to  praise  God  publicly,  by  singing  of  psalms together in the congregation? Answer.—Yes. Ps. 98:5.  That the Book of Psalms ought to be used to the exclusion of all  other  songs  appears  in  the  following:  1.)  Songs,  to  be  suitable  for  the  celebration  of God’s praise, must be descriptive, not of anything human, but of the divine glory; for this is the  very  nature  of  the  ordinance  of  praise,  Ps.  107:15; 150:2.    Men,  however  gifted, learned  and  godly,  can  never  prepare  songs  to  convey  any  adequate  description  of  the divine glory, 1 Cor. 2:11.  Only the superintending inspiration of God could fit one to author the songs of Zion, as in David’s case, 2 Sam. 23:1, 2.  2.) All songs composed apart from such  inspiration  may  have  errors,  and  must  have  defects;  but  the  psalms  of  the  Bible cannot.    But,  it is  sinful  to  offer  to  God  a  sacrifice  which  we  know  to  be  defective,  Mal. 1:14.  3.) There is in the word of God plain warrant for using the Book of Psalms in singing God’s  praise,  2  Chron.  29:30,  35;  Ps.  105:2;  James  5:13.    However,  we  are  warned against worshiping God according to the traditions of men, Matt. 15:9. The admission of a song into the Scripture may, or may not, infer its inspiration; but its admission  into  the  Book  of  Psalms  proves  at  once  its  inspiration  and  adaptation, according to the mind of the Spirit, to the services of the sanctuary, cf. 2 Sam. 22:1-4 w/ Ps. 18 title, vv. 1-3.  The exclusion of one from the general collection, whilst it does not invalidate its claim to inspiration, seems to show that its use as a praise song was private and  temporary, 2  Sam.  23:1-7.    As  Athanasius  once  said, the  Psalms  are  unique in  the Bible; most of Scripture speaks to us, but the Psalms speak for us. Question 2.—Should the psalms also be used privately in the family? Answer.—Yes. Ps. 118:15; Jer. 10:25.  Christian families should conscientiously serve God  in  this  exercise.    They  are  called  upon  to  separate  themselves  to  this  service  of praise, as well as of prayer.  It is most reasonable that a church should be in each of their houses, Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15. Question 3.—Should the voice be tunably and gravely ordered in the singing of psalms? Answer.—Yes.  James  5:13.    Singing  is  only  speaking  with  a  tuned  voice;  or,  it  is lengthening the sound of words by a tuneful and melodious pronunciation.  To sing God’s praise, is  to  speak  it out  musically.    It  supposes  the  exercise of  the  soul;  for  we  should sing and make melody in our hearts, Col. 3:16.  But it does not consist wholly of the mind, but  employs  also  the  voice,  Isa.  52:8.    As  it  is  also  to  be  done  socially,  in  concert,  Ps. 95:1; it requires the proper ordering of the voice itself so that it can tunably praise God in unison, 1 Cor. 14:40; 2 Chron. 5:13.  Additionally, Scripture informs us that our Lord sung an hymn with his disciples, Matt. 26:30; the word used in the original language ὑμνήσαντεςalways denotes a grave song of vocal praise. Question 4.—Is the chiefest care to be had to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord? Answer.—Yes.  Eph.  5:19.    All  the  powers  of  the  soul  should  be summoned  to  a vigorous exertion in this delightful employment, Ps. 57:8.  Care is to be taken that we sing praises  with  understanding,  as  is  commanded,  Ps.  47:7.   Blind  devotion  cannot  please Him who inhabits the praises of Israel, Ps. 22:3.  Likewise, we must sing with the Spirit—
grace in the heart—as well as with the understanding, 1 Cor. 14:15; John 4:24.  Exalted joy  in  divine  praise is a  fruit  produced  only  by  the  Holy  Ghost  blowing  upon  the  church, Song  4:16.    Understanding,  affection,  and  earnestness  should  mix  in  performing  this heavenly work, Rom. 12:1, 2. Question 5.—Is the whole congregation to join in the public praise of God? Answer.—Yes.  Heb.  2:12.    God’s  praises  are  to  be  conducted  in  the  assembly,  Ps. 107:32; 111:1; and it is the duty of all God’s people to sing praises unto Him, Ps. 148:11, 12; 150:6.  Choirs and worship by proxy have no place since the abolition of the Temple worship, 1 Chron. 9:33; Neh. 12:46. Question  6.—Should everyone that can read have a psalm book and should those who cannot read, not disabled by age or otherwise, be exhorted to learn to read? Answer.—Yes. Isa. 29:12; 1 Cor. 14:15, 16.  Of those otherwise disabled from reading, no doubt God would have mercy and the communication of the divine knowledge, instead of a service they could not render, Hos. 6:6.  However, such literacy as would allow one to read the Psalm book is commended as ennobling those who utilize it, Acts 17:11. Question 7.—Is it still convenient that the minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers, read the psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof, that all may participate in the praise of God? Answer.—Yes. Ex. 15:20, 21.  Paul joins with the spirituality (πνεύματι) required in all acceptable worship, Jude 20; intelligence (νοΐ) in the praising of God, 1 Cor. 14:15.  When the whole congregation, following the apostolic example and obeying the divine command, harmonize in praising God, it is obvious that all must be acquainted with the matter of the song, Ps. 47:7.  Not only men and women, church members of adult years, are to hear the word of God read and expounded, Neh. 8:2-8; but all ranks and ages and both sexes are called  upon  to  praise  the  Lord,  Ps.  148:12.    That  all who  are  thus  required  to  join  in celebrating  the  praise  of  God  may  have  it  in  their  power  to  obey,  there  must  be  some means used that intelligence and harmony may exist among the worshippers, Ps. 12; 18 titles.  Most importantly, the law of charity, in its bearing upon social and especially public worship, forbids whatsoever hinders the edification, not only of a fellow Christian, but of a fellow creature; yes, even one, 1 Cor. 14:24.  To this end, we are directed to line out the psalms, even as was done before the advent of psalm books, 1 Chron. 16:7.