Singing the Psalms in Public Worship
Does God have the right to reveal how He ought to be
worshipped? Or has man been given authority to offer uninspired praise
according to His own (corrupt) inventions and innovations? This is the
vital question that must be satisfactorily answered before God can be
Right through the Scriptures, the people of God are
given various warnings that they must not tamper with God's Word at any
time and in any way.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I commanded
you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the
commandments of the Lord your God which I commanded you (Deut. 4:2).
What things soever I command you, observe to do it:
thou shall not add thereto, nor diminish ought from it (Deut. 12:32).
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee,
and thou be found a liar (Prov. 30:6).
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words
of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things,
God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and
if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this
prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life the
holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev.
It is clear from these verses that the Bible is
perfect and complete for all matters of faith and practice, and
therefore must not be added to. This principle also stands in regards to
the singing of God's praise. God in His infinite perfection has not left
man in the dark or ill-equipped as to how He ought to be worshipped, for
He has graciously given us a book of praise which is contained as an
inseparable part of His Word: the Book of Psalms.
Now these be the last words of David. David the son
of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of
the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit
of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue (II Sam.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all
his wondrous works (I Chron. 16:9).
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all
his wondrous works (Ps. 105:2).
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all
wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col.
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any
merry? let him sing psalms (James 5:13).
In the New Testament, the Lord Christ Himself has
given commandment and direction regarding divine worship: "God is a
spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in
truth" (John 4:24).
By the word "spirit," Christ refers to that
which is inspired by the Spirit of God, namely, the Bible, for "All
scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Tim. 3:16). The content of
sung praise is hence the Book of Psalms or the Psalter.
The reference to the word "truth" means that
all praise offered to God in worship must contain no blemishes or
inerrancies but must be absolutely pure. This of course is not true of
hymns and songs of human compositions, because the word of man in
uninspired odes is not "truth." Moreover, it often contains doctrinal
errors and also even damnable heresies. How different is was with David,
the main human penman of the Psalms. As "the anointed of the God of
Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel," he truly and boldly declared,
"The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue" (II
Sam. 23:1-2). What uninspired writer of "hymns" would dare say this of
his compositions? Yet such people would have us sing their poems in the
public worship of the Almighty instead of the God-breathed Psalms!
Since the Word of God (and thus the Psalter as God’s
book of sung praise) cannot be added to or subtracted from, it must
therefore be our absolute and final authority in all matters concerning
the worship of God. How repugnant then must the ever-increasing number
of uninspired books of hymns be to the true and living God, who demands
nothing less than true obedience and compliance to His Word! "Sing unto
him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works" (Ps.