Covenant Theology, RPW, and Musical Instruments

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Jul 26, 2008.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The "what is wrong" argument is opposed to the regulative principle of worship. Even if it can be proven to be "not-wrong", it is forbidden if not commanded.

    But the Scripture is expressly against it. "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace."

    Let's deal honestly with the Scripture. It speaks expressly to the question of receiving individual compositions into the service. The compositions are to be delivered by the individuals themselves, and the rest of the congregation are to sit silently and judge what is spoken. Clearly, then, praying and preaching do not serve as a scriptural parallel for congregational singing.
  2. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    As noted in a previous post -- Deut. 12:32 does not rule out progressive revelation, but only forbids human additions and detractions.
  3. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I consider ingoring contexts sub-reformed and ignoring evidence non-reformed. If you want to revive obscurantism, that is your prerogative, but it is not useful for understanding Scripture, nor helpful in convincing others of your view. I point out that you are systematically ignoring the plain testimony of inspired individual psalms that
    1) some were written before David set up worship at Jerusalem and thus, on your view of what God required, create a a formal contradiction with his stated requirements. Such contradictions create confusion of which he is not the author.
    2) they may be sung by individuals with instrumental accompanyment outside the tabernacle/temple setting.

    Your allegation that I deny God the right to give further revelation is simply an isupportable misreading of my argument since I specifically allowed for that possibility. Remember I wrote:

    God can make a change in any covenant at any time. But, since he is a God of confusion and not of peace, to be faithful to his nature, he must make such changes in a way that avoids creating confusion between what is covenantally required and what is not. To avoid this kind of confusion, all he has to do to do so is formally change the covenant, which in those days meant replacing the covenant by the amended version, as the Abrahamic covenant was replaced by the Mosaic. Lacking such formal amendment, any commands given within an unamended covenantal context, as David's worship mandates were, must be recognized as occasional, but cannot be proved by GNC to be covenantal.

    When Moses inaugurated the Sinai covenant, he mentions that a place for the Lord was required, but he leaves it up to the Lord to choose the place once Israel was in the land. Therefore, a particular place for the Lord was a covenatal requirement, but the particlar location chosen was not. Which is why David could move the location from Shiloh to Jerusalem, without God formally amending of the covenant.

    Living and working in a psalms only church environment as you do, you may not know that those passages describing the Davidic developments in the Jerusalem tabernacle are very important to the theology behind the biblical use of instruments that underlies the worship of a substantial minority of instrument using churches. As a practicing musician serving within those churches for most of the past thirty years, I have studied the transformation of those functions under David in considerable detail. I have yet to see any statement or any GNC consequence of such statements in those materials that invalidates the case I have been making. The fact that Scripture reveals that God gave to David the plan for the temple, just as he gave Moses the plan for the tabernacle does not prove your point. Remember that the Sinai covenant is God's obligtions to Israel and Israel's obligations to God. Although the tablernacle design was made under Sinai, keeping the sanctuary as Moses designed it was not made a condition of the covenant (its design was not a law spoken to Israel), consequently it could be replaced by the temple without violating the covenant.

    There is a critical difference, however, between the tabernacle/temple and accompanied sung praise. Their rationales are different. With the sacrifices fulflled in Christ's one complete sacrifice for sins forever, there is no more need of a temple and it necessarily goes out of the new covenant. With praise the need continues for praise continues (God is still deserving of praise, the requirement remains and in fact is explictly carried over into the NT). Although the required location "a place for his name" is abolished, no requirements that necessarily abolish accompanied sung praise have been mandated.

    You are confusing apples and oranges without providing evidence for identification. You provide no Scripture or GNC statement from it to support your view that the summoning at Sinai to intiate the covenant which produced terror (Ex. 19:16) was the same as the joyful sounding of trumpets in praise to God (Nu. 10:10, 2 Chron. 5:13) instituted to accompany the sacrifices reconciling men and God within it. The resultant emotional states argue for a difference. Please provide Scripture or a GN consequence of Scripture that proves your point.

    And I notice that you have not addressed my demonstration that the abolition of worship practices is not a good and necessary consequence of Christ's statement to the Samaritan woman. Lacking a refutation of this point, your case fails.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. The psalms are the product of the Sprit of God moving the prophet David as a public man not as a private muse. He represented the royal line to be consummated in Christ. 2 Sam 23:1, 2, "the sweet Psalmist of Israel said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." If it were any other way it could not be said that the Psalms testify of Christ.

    Every directive for using musical instruments in the Psalms is in the context of Israel's worship. Ps. 33:2, "Praise the Lord with harp." Verse 12, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." Verse 22, "Let thy mercy, O Lord, by upon us, according as we hope in thee." Ps. 108:2, "Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early." Verse 3, "I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people." See Heb. 2:12 for the testimony that this is fulfilled in Christ singing in the midst of the church. Ps. 144:9, "I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee." Verses 12-15, "That our sons ... that our daughters ... that our garners ... that our sheep ... that our oxen..." Verse 15, "Happy is that people, that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord."

    The RPW allows for progressive revelation. If you acknowledge this point then you have no basis for maintaining that the RPW is nullified by the fact that God Himself may add to His own word.

    All well and good. The fact remains that "Jerusalem worship" as instituted through David was a development of the tabernacle worship as instituted through Moses. Nothing substantially new was appointed by David, but all arrangements were permanent extensions of the Mosaic ritual which reflected the settlement in the land under God's king. Hence when we speak of the abrogation of the ceremonial law we mean not only the Mosaic institutions but also include their Davidic embellishments.

    Gal. 4:25, "For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." Jerusalem worship reflected a permanent manifestation of the presence of God on Mt. Sinai; Ps. 68:16, 17, "this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever... the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place."

    Exod 26:30, "And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount." The tabernacle functioned as a perpetuation of Israel's gathering to God at Sinai. As the people were hindered from touching the mount, so they were curtained off from the tabernacle. The mount itself is represented by the holy place, and the top of the mount where Moses communed with God in the midst of the cloud is indicated by the holy of holies. The devouring fire of God's presence is instituted in the fire of the altar which consumes the sacrifices to make a sweet savour to the Lord. The trumpet was specifically to be blown during the burnt offering as "a memorial before your God," Numb. 10:10. All Old Testament memorials serve to commemorate the great deeds of God in visiting the children of Israel. The blowing of the trumpet at the burnt offering memorialised that terrifying trumpet which accompanied the devouring fire of God upon Mt. Sinai.

    John 4:21, "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father." By this statement he contrasts allegiance to the Father of all nations with that allegiance which Jews and Samartians gave to their "fathers." Verse 24, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." In contrast to Jerusalem-worship, New Testament worship will reflect God's true nature as a Spirit. This marks a new and spiritual kind of service from that which was offered under the Old Testament.

    Further, it is clear from Haggai's shaking prophecy and its Hebrews 12 appropriation to New Testament administration that everything that is "made" has been removed.

    God will no longer be worshipped with the elements of the world. The only material emblems employed in His worship are those which He has instituted to serve as sacraments.
  5. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I have never asserted that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. The reality of the matter we face is that there are at least two traditions of interpretation within the protestant churches on this point and cases made from the bible have been put forward from each. That those cases need to be and should be tested I agree.

    Now it is true that the Spirit of the Lord spoke, and not only by David, in the Psalms, but that fact does not make the case.

    Flat wrong, as I show below after your examples.

    In the list I gave you, to which your post is a reply, I included certain psalms which you don't mention above. One of them was Ps. 98: 4:5. Ps 98 exhorts "all the earth" (i.e., the nations) not the sanctuary to "Sing praise to God with the lyre and the sound of melody".
    This example commands all other earthy nations to sing praise to God with instruments and it does not require them to do so in the sancturary. This psalm is not provably in the context of sanctuary worship.

    Although I understand and allow for progressive revelation, I can most certainly object when your understanding of the Bible's teaching on worship necessarily makes God out to behave in a way that is inconsistent with his own nature and creates confusion, contrary to his own statements about himself. If, as a condition of the Sinai covenant, God had commanded the Israelites only to worship in ways that were explicitly permitted, he created confusion when then allowed non-explicitly permitted accompanied sung praise to take place without judging it. Since God did not amend the covenant and allowed unaccompanied sung praise without judging it and indeed commanded ASP later through David, your interpretation of the Bible's teaching of the RPW simply must be flawed.

    May I suggest you read my posts more carefully. I know you are not sympathetic to the argument presented, but you keep missing the distinction I draw in the paragraph above. God is free to add commandments to his people at any time but his own nature prohibits him from doing so in a way that creates confusion since such action creates a contradiction with his own nature.

    That what David institued was a development arising from the tabernacle I assert as much as you do. What I deny was that those changes must have been necessarily incorporated into that covenant since no such amendment (covenant initiation) is recorded in Scripture between Moses and Christ. When God institutes a covenatal development, he initiates subsequent covenants. Note how the Abrahamic covenant and the Sinai covenant, both amending the Noahic covenant were initiated.

    Thank you for finally attempting to respond with a case from the Scripture. But the observations made do not lead by necessary consequence to your conclusion. For parallels may arise from other causes. That the locations were holy, that the people were cordoned off from both Sinai and the tabernacle may be nothing more than parallel instances of teaching God's holiness, and there is no Scriptural statement specifically paralleling the top of the mount with the Holy of Holies. In fact the different behaviours of Moses on Sinai and the High Priest in the tabernacle clearly argue for a difference. Moses never offered a guilt offering for the people on top of Sinai. The devouring fire of God's presence cannot be instituted by the fire of the altar without a violation of the third commandment in the mind of those who so believe, and as I said earlier, Scripture explicity differentiates between the emotional reactions produced by the two differing trumpets because of their different contexts. Finally to say that fulfilling a covenant obligation perpetuates the intiation of that covenant simply won't do. Not only is this confusion between intiation of a covenant and ongoing activity under it the type of theologizing that brought transubstatiation into the Roman Church, it is clearly false to fact in this particular case. If you are married, I sincerely hope you don't think your wedding ceremony is still ongoing because you take out the garbage as an expression your obligation under that covenant to love your wife.

    Sorry, not good enough. The Samaritan woman has been talking solely about place at a superficial level in an attempt to divert Jesus' putting his finger on her private life. She has not at all mentioned devotion to ancestral tradition in contrast to a true worship of God, and when Jesus replies nothing more may be shown by his words than he abolishes the notion that there was now in the New Covenant, one special place of worship. There is no evidence in the context that anything more than that was intended. Since we know that devout Jews under the Old Covenant could worship God in both truth and spirit (Simeon and Anna are two examples that come to mind), the only good and necessary consequence of Christ's words is that the New Covenant in contrast to the old, lacks an earthly holy place.

    Since the worship practices of David were not constituted part of that covenant that vanished, they are not automatically shaken when the old covenant is taken away. They are occasional commands of God remaining valid because the rationale establishing them still applies in this age.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I never claimed that it did; it was a counter-argument to your atomisation of a book of holy Scripture and suggestion that individual Psalms were written by David without the national worship in mind.

    At least you concede that your other examples provide no warrant for what you are seeking to justify from the Psalms. As for Ps. 98, it belongs to a general pattern which alternates between "enthronement" and "new song" psalms. If one notes its canonical positioning between 97 and 99, it will be clear that it formed part of a series of Psalms which called on "Zion" to be glad in her king as the king of all the earth who manifests His saving power on behalf of His people.

    If the nature of prophecy is properly accounted for, there is no basis for understanding the reference to musical instruments as foretelling their use in the New Testament. It is well known that the New Testament times of reformation were foretold according to the forms and institutions which were in use under the Old Testament. Thus Isa 66:23, "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD." No one supposes that the new moon feast would be observed by all nations for ever. This is simply an accommodation of the prophetic word to the understanding of the people to whom it was initially delivered.

    Of course you can object, but you certainly have no basis for doing so. The fact is that God inspired these songs. It can hardly be called a confusing state of affairs when God inspires His servants with new revelation when He had already made provision for it. The people were to constantly look for that prophet like unto Moses, and to diligently prove the prophetic word from age to age.

    The Davidic covenant necessitated the development. And if one has ears to hear he will hear the Spirit testifying to this covenant throughout the Psalms.

    It is not merely a parallel, but an identification which the Holy Spirit specifically makes in Ps. 68 and Gal. 4. One's biblical theology cannot afford to ignore the express teaching of the Holy Spirit.

    The ceremonies were tied to Jerusalem as the centre of Israel's worship, as even a cursory reading of the Psalms will reveal. If the centre is removed then the ceremonies must fall with it.

    Haggai wrote after the exile, and spoke concerning the glory of the second temple exceeding the glory of the first temple. His words specifically relate to the ordinances instituted by David. The apostle says things which are made shall be removed by this universal shaking. This means that all carnal ordinances of the OT have been abrogated. Hence the Hebrews ought not to turn away from God who speaks to them from heaven, which would be the result if they rejected the Christian synoagogue in favour of the temple worship.
  7. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    More form critical conjecture. As noted, the canon calls David the Psalmist of Israel. There is no canonical basis for making him a private muse. The New Testament receives the psalms as a "book," not as a disparate collection of poetry. I fail to see how any person who treats the book of Psalms contrary to its canonical nature can have anything worthwhile to contribute to its study.

    Now we are introduced to the speculations of the higher criticism.

    If one reads the Psalms in Hebrew, he will discover that there is no "Psalm 98" to be found. Your atomisation of this section of the book is dependent entirely on the printer's convention of including chapter and verse divisions for ease of reference.

    First, of course it is a prophecy. The whole book of psalms is prophetic. One need only read the Acts of the Apostles to see this fact.

    Secondly, as this thread has adequately demonstrated, musical accompaniment was tied to the sacrifices. You have valiantly tried to find individual psalms to negate that fact, but every attempt has led to failure. Nor will Ps. 98 be of any assistance once it is understood in canonical context.

    You failed to qualify that God inspiring men to compose songs of praise is contrary to His nature as perceived by you. Personally I think piety dictates that we receive God's revelation for what it is and not limit God to human standards.

    1. They were commanded not to add to God's worship. This does not mean that God cannot add to His worship.
    2. The covenant witness was delivered to the people in the form of a "song," Deut. 31:30, so the element of song can hardly be called an addition to the covenant.
    3. David's changes are the commandment of God, 2 Chron. 29:25.
    4. My understanding is simply that which is spoken in Deut. 12:32.

    The book of Hebrews doesn't see fulfilment in this way. The "how much more" argument is utilised to show why we should abandon the temple and cleave to Jesus as the apostle and high priest of our profession.

    Both Ephesians and Colossians state that Christ has abolished the handwriting of ordinances, nailing it to the cross. The fact that we rely on New Testament institution for the warrant to sing psalms is itself indicative that the Old Testament worship is fulfilled and abolished by Christ. In the absence of New Testament command to utilise mechanical instruments we have no warrant for their introduction.

    The divines only apply general equity to judicial law, not to ceremonial law. The Confession simply states the ceremonial law is abrogated without qualification. You, however, show a distinct predilection to revive Old Testament ceremonies, and that with as much zeal as any theonomist seeks the revival of the judicial law.

    But you depend on a positive New Testament institution in order to show that the ordinance of praise continues in the New Testament. And why shouldn't it? It accords with the spiritual nature of New Testament worship. No element of the world is required for its performance.
  9. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I am not making David a private muse when I say that some psalms predate his setting up regular sung worship. David was a musician for years before he was king and for part of the time he was a court musician. The duties of a court musician usually include composition. Finally David was anointed by the Holy Spirit before entering Saul's service. So it is entirely possible for him to have composed Holy Spirit inspired psalms before he entered his kingship.

    The phrase "of X" in the psalm superscriptions is usually held to refer to the author since Ps 18 is explicitly attributed to David in 1 Samuel. Ps 90 is a is identified as a prayer wriitten by Moses. Some psalms superscriptions specifically identify historical events e.g, Ps 18 was definitely written after David's deliverance from Saul and perhaps after other enemies later as its placing in 1 Sam suggests. But there is no doubt that Ps 34, referring to David feigning madness before a Philistine king, may well have been written as early as before Saul's death. The superscription lacks "For the director of music" which when appearing in front of such psalms as Ps. 52 and 54, implies that they were written after David had put such an individual in place, whether in his court in Hebron or in later Jerusalem we know not.

    It is either simple ignorance of fact or an unworthy debating tactic to assert that what I said was higher criticism. It is certain, from the order in which we find the present book, that Jeremiah was not arranged chronologically by the editor who gave it its final form. Although later printers added chapters and verses, somebody between Jeremiah and the LXX took the material that is chapter 45 today and removed it from its context which was chapter 36 as is CERTAIN from the dates given in the two chapters. Between these two passages, we find material identified as originating during the reign of a subsequent king! To assert as I did, that we cannot always trust the subsequent editors of inspired text to present that text chronollogically is a necessary consequce of the fact that the editor of Jeremiah did not do so. To call this "higher criticism" is simply a denial of reality or an ill-advised attempt to tar my argument with the brush of "guilt by association."

    Are you trying to say that if one reads a Heb. Bible one will not find the psalms separated or are you saying that if one reads the Heb mss. one will not find the psalms separated? If the former, you are wrong. And if the latter you are also wrong. The material that we know as Ps. 98 is clearly set off from Ps 97 by the superscription "A psalm" and from Ps. 99 by the change of subjects if nothing else.

    While there is evidence that we cannot rely on the editorial editing of the OT as far as chronological ordering of OT materials within a book is concerned, there is no evidence that the original editor or editors of Psalms divided originally united material into separate psalms. Lacking such evidence, we can assume that the original Hebrew divisions were correct.

    A Biblical book may have prophetic elements included in it, but that fact that is does so does not make it exclusively or even dominantly prophetic. We do not call Deuteronomy a prophetic book even though it has prophetic elements included. Ps. 98 is not an explicit prophecy, but present exhortation, even though from our perspective looking back, we can see that the Lord has made known his salvation in a far greater way and done additional marvelous things than the psalmist had seen as present realities, which seemingly require to be celebrated in "new song"

    One exception demonstrates the proposition unprovable, and Ps 98 is that exception. You are ignoring its specific teaching in favour of putting your trust in a theological conception not provable by Scripture. Such a practice is not wise.

    I do receive God's revelation for what it is. God says he cannot act contrary to his nature: creating confusion in his people is contrary to his nature as Paul says in Corinthians: your understanding of His teaching on worship necessarily creates confusion about what is covenantally required and what is not. Your understanding is therefore wrong.

    They were covenantally commanded to worship in a certain way, and if you are correct in your view, God provided an object lesson on the point with the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. I have never denied that God could add to or change the requirements of the worship he commands. What I assert is that he must do so in a way that does not create confusion about what is or what is not covenantally permitted, or he is not being true to his nature.

    Quit attacking straw men.

    You continue to present apples as oranges. They are not: I have provided, and you have failed to rebut, a demonstration that there is a category difference between the institution of a covenant and commanded practices within that covenant.


    Since your first two premises are false, the conclusion does not follow.

    I used the how much more as pure logic uncorrected by Scripture. Yes Scripture tells us that we should forsake the animal sacrifices , but it doesn't necessarily tell us to forsake accompaniement to sung praise. For although I suspect Hebrews was written after the rebels in Judea made it impossible for Christians to continue attending the temple (I seem to recall that around 67 a change was made in the early days of the rebellion that had that effect but my suspicions are not proof), the letter does not comand its readers to forsake the temple sacrifices, rather it points out the superiority of Christ's sacrifice over them. Christian Jews in Jerusalem did not stop going to the temple sacrifices until after Acts 20 definately, and If I recall correctly Christians were not forced from the temple until after Paul's death. If Hebrews was in fact written while Christians were still attending the temple, your use of Hebrews to support your point will be contradicted by the fact of contemporary Christian practice.

    The problem is that the institution of sung praise as a regular form of worship was linked wth instruments in at least one context; that of sacrifice. At the time Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossains, he knew that some of his Jewish readers may have been making pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the feasts. He certainly doesn't prohibit therm from doing so because instrumental accompaniment of sacrifices would be involved. And, as I have shown there is a sacrificial context in at least one Christian meeting, that of communion. Since Paul only makes the general statement in Eph. to sing psalms without excluding practices then utilized in any of the contexts in which he could reasonably expect some of his readers to sing them, his general instruction to "sing Psalms" cannot be legitimately pressed so for as to exclude accompaniment.

    And, unlike the Theonomist, I have shown that I have Scriptural reason for doing so. The instrumental amendments to worship were not original to the Mosaic covenant and were not incorporated within it by covenantal amendment. Consequently they cannot be regarded as covenantal but must be seen as occasional commands, which were a classification never specifically treated by the Assembly. The rationale provided for their introduction was not only that they were God's commands but also includes repeated statements that the changes were "fitting" to be done. Just as the promise of deliverance from the Sinatic covenant deserved more praise than that covenant itself, the accomplishment of that deliverance deserves fitting praise. If animal sacrifices deserve instrumental accompaniment to sung praise it is a logically necessary consequence that the rememberance of Christ's sacrifice equally deserves ASP, absent specific NT instructions to the contrary.

    Did the Assemby err by not treating occaisional commands and by not including the praise commands within that category? Arguably it did. And while I know the burden of proving that assertion on this board is on me, outside this board in the wider church context, the burden will be on unaccompanied psalms only advocates to disprove the case I have presented if they wish to be successful in convincing others that their view is biblical. If the best that any UPO advocates can do is loaded with errors of historical fact, propostions not provably necessary, category errors, guilt by association or any other form of unreason, don't be surprised if your view is not widely received.

    You are dodging the question. Both of us depend on the positive institution of the NT to make sung praise a regular part of worship. I have shown that Paul's general statement instituting sung praise referred back to contexts in which both accompanied and unaccompnied praise were used and that the context in which accompanied praise was used continues although modified in the NT. Consequently it is eisegesis to read his general statemnent instituting sung praise in a way that necessarily excludes accompaniment from Christian praise.

    Since I sense that the discussion is descending to reiteration of positions, I will conclude my side of it here.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2008
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Exegesis is not concerned with "possibilities," but with what can be ascertained from the text of Scripture. While David possibly composed songs as a court musician, there is no evidence that the canonical Psalms were composed for private use. To the contrary, the canonical Psalms show that David wrote as a representative man, as Hengstenberg established in the 19th century.

    Ps. 90 does not say the prayer was written by Moses, but only presents itself as a prayer of Moses.

    These expreriences of David were Messianic; he suffered as the anointed of God; and Psalms 34, 52, and 54 are orientated towards corporate appropriation. 34:3, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Verse 8, 9, "O taste and see that the Lord is good ... O fear the Lord, ye his saints." Verse 11, "Come, ye children." 52:title, "To the chief musician." Verse 9, "for it is good before thy saints." 54:title, "to the chief musician." There is no reason for supposing any psalm was composed for private use.

    The reconstruction of the text is by definition a higher critical enterprise. Your fanciful suggestion depends on the presupposition that Jeremiah intended to write chronologically; but the suggestion of conservative scholars that the prophecies might be grouped by "theme" is perfectly acceptable. At any rate, even if you could prove transposition in the case of Jeremiah, there is no evidence for foisting this on the book of Psalms.

    Marvin Tate has nothing to gain from this debate, but he comments (Word series), "in brief, Pss. 96-99 can be treated as a literary unity, divided into two psalm-pairs." The superscription at Ps. 98 only serves to mark off one pair from another, and is not imposing enough to create a distinct literary unit. Howard (Structure) has noted that Pss. 98 and 99 have thirteen words in common and clear thematic links. Pss. 96 and 97 also have numerous verbal and thematic links. Taken in conjunction it is clear that the two pairs are designed to parallel one another. Your atomistic interpretation is contrary to all evidence; so you are effectively left without any examples for your view of musical worship.

    What Hebrew divisions? There are none. "Psalm 1," "Psalm 2," "Psalm 3," etc., do not exist as headings in the Hebrew. One only has to note the structural affinity of Pss. 7-9, and the broken acrostic of Pss. 9 and 10 to see that larger literary units exist within the book of Psalms. These literary units prove that the book of Psalms was not intended to be read as a disparate collection of poems.

    The New Testament receives the book of Psalms as prophetic. One ignores the New Testament evidence at his own peril.

    The canonical approach is well established, and a far safer method of interpretation than the old form critical method which atomised books of Scripture and speculated about the text's pre-history.

    As already noted, your objection would pertain as equally to progressive revelation; the command to worship is merely a subset of revelation, and is therefore as progressive as the revelation itself; your objection is simply ridiculous.

    Your argument depends solely on your dislike of the principle announced in Deut. 12:32.

    The author of Hebrews 8-10 is of the opinion that the temple worship is obsolete because it belonged to the old covenant. I will listen to HIM, and suggest you ought to do the same.

    Not all practices mentioned in the Scriptures are ipso facto acceptable. It is clear that Hebrews is corrective. It teaches something "better" in Christ.

    After being entertained with the fancies of the higher critical rationalism, we are now treated to the superstition of high-church ritualism. Communion is not a sacrifice, but a commemoration of a sacrifice.

    The very first commemoration of our Lord's one only sacrifice was instituted by the Lord Himself after the Passover. At this commemoration He and His disciples sang an hymn, with no mention of accompaniment.

    Occasional commands are not treated by the Assembly because they are no part of the reformed faith. For the divines' view one need only read Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici to see what constitutes a warrant for offering anything to God in worship.

    Be that as it may, you are presently arguing against the Confession on a confessional board after you have promised to abide by board rules. Please do your Christian duty and keep your word.

    If one depends on a NT institution to prove what is acceptable in NT worship, then an OT association is irrelevant. Besides, it has been proven that the mechanical instruments were not merely accompaniments to the praise but were themselves an act of worship commanded by God to accompany the sacrifices. Further, the reality is that the apostle does not exclude accompaniment from his instruction because he specifically says the singer is to make melody in his heart. Therefore, as far as the NT is concerned, heart melody suffices as accompaniment to singing psalms without the use of mechanical instruments.
  11. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    "...the New Testament does not speak once as to Musical Instruments in worship at all." Exactly - including no statements whatsoever banning them from worship.

    I believe that instruments are part of the "indifferent matters" of the Bible. The burden of the New Testament is to promulgate and explain the gospel; this being so, the NT has no interest in pronouncing on the subject of musical instruments. What's probable is that there is an assumption among the NT writers that, since instruments were used in the OT, they are to be used in the NT, too.
  12. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Musical Instruments were a matter of the Temple Worship. The Temple and its worship service was overthrown and destroyed at 70 AD. Thus, musical instruments were no longer used in the Church for the next 1500 years because they pertain to the infancy of the Church found in the OT Temple worship.

    The use of instruments today does not effect Spiritual worship, but is carnal and edifying only to the flesh.


  13. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Why would they assume that if they were not used in the synagogue worship to which they were accustomed? In the context of corporate worship instruments were not used outside of the temple. As a reminder according to the RPW we need positive direction to do something in Christian worship. Is their a positive statement concerning instruments in the New Testament?
  14. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Exegesis is not concerned with "possibilities," but with what can be ascertained from the text of Scripture. While David possibly composed songs as a court musician, there is no evidence that the canonical Psalms were composed for private use. To the contrary, the canonical Psalms show that David wrote as a representative man, as Hengstenberg established in the 19th century. [/QUOTE]

    I had hoped to cease this discussion: but your post demands comment.

    Exegesis is indeed what can be ascertained from Scripture.

    One simply cannot establish from the Scripture when all the psalms were composed, or the purpose for which they were composed. You give neither sources or citations for Hengstenberg’s assertion so how can it be judged biblical or not? This is the third time I have asked "ad fontes" in this thread.

    I don't think you really want to deploy this double edged sword. If you take away the argument that “of Moses” refers to the author of the psalm, how will you reply to anyone who wishes to take away the Davidic authorship of "of David" psalms not specifically attributed to him in the NT?

    I never said any psalm including 34 was not composed for a didactic purpose and I don't say that now. What I do say is that we don't know when Ps 34 was composed and that is no evidence in the Scripture to place it any later than before Saul's death. David may have composed it for his raiding band's edification. We just don't know and we cannot deploy arguments that rely on a foundation of ignorance.

    I am fully aware that Jeremiah is not presented chronologically, but the sequence from chapter 37-44 is chronological and out of sequence with the events of chs. 36 and 45 which preced and follow it. Ch 45 took place at the same time as ch 36 and is linked to specific events of that chapter for Baruch had made his complaint at that time. Now, whether Jeremiah put the message to Baruch away from its chronological location or whether somebody else did, that displacement is an editorial function (and I never claimed that Jeremiah was not the final editor). Consequently, my point still stands: the order in which materials appear in the OT cannot be presumed to be chronological. This is especially true in the Psalms where we know that the psalms were written by different authors and the authors are not identified such as the sequence from Ps 91-100. Since we don't know who the authors of these psalms were, what their dates were, and when they were composed, ANY theological rationale based on suppositions about their chronology is simply unprovable.

    You seem to be operating on the assumption that just because an authority figure states a hypothesis, that hypothesis is necessarily true and need not be tested. The fact that two documents have words in common and clear thematic links is not enough to prove that they were written together. By that argument Ps. 45 was written at the same time, and for the same purpose, as the Song of Songs. Now it may have been so written, but we cannot prove it must have been so written, for if such similarities always proved the union of purpose and date between documents, we could prove the LXX version of Ps. 23 and John 10:1-18 were written at the same time something we know is not the case.

    And finally you have never addressed the problem Ps 150:1 c presents for your view. That clause commands praise everywhere under heaven unless you want to postulate that the angels breathe air.

    Which is exactly what I said:

  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    My apologies; I was assuming a knowledge of Psalms studies given the dogmatic way you present your case. Hengstenberg (Works, 7:vi.): "All the Psalms are songs of Israel, as David describes his Psalms in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. This implies the whole religious community to have been respected in them. They all not only bore a religious character, but were also appointed to be used in the services of the sanctuary, for which nothing can be proper, but what the individual sings as the organ of the church. The individual comes here into account only in so far as he presents a general aspect."

    I simply accept the NT testimony that these are the Psalms of David. Those who have studied the superscriptions know that the "lamed" prefix can't refer to authorship in each and every case. Psalm 72 is clearly "for" Solomon because the subscription at verse 20 ascribes this literary unit to David.

    That's correct; you just don't know. Your form critical approach is all conjecture. So let's work with what we do know. Scripture specifically states that these are the psalms of Israel; this has been established over and again, with nothing to gainsay it. Therefore we are justified on the basis of explicit scriptural testimony to interpret the psalms in the context of Israel's worship, and have no reason for understaning them any other way.

    The Jeremiah example is still mere speculation. The Psalms are received according to their canonical form. In the absence of any other evidence we have no basis to depart from the order in which the text has come down to us.

    No, I don't work on any such "ad verecundiam" assumption. I cited a couple of scholars who have done much research on the subject, and who cannot be claimed to be biased one way or the other. I provided you with facts concerning the verbal and thematic links between these psalms as noted by these scholars. The compositional unity of the psalter is a well-established discipline.

    Ps. 150 calls for universal praise. It commences by calling for praise "in his sanctuary." Earlier psalms have established the association of the musical instruments with the service of the sanctuary.

    If one reads the Psalms without the printer's headers, the larger literary units are obvious. When this is accepted there is no reason to break off Ps. 98 from Ps. 99.

    The Psalms as a whole is prophetic, Luke 24:44. Ps. 126 is prophetic. The captivity of Zion was turned by Christ, as Matthew chapter 1 makes clear. Anything other than a canonical interpretation of the Psalms is unworthy of the dignity of the book.

    All biblical exhortation is eschatological by nature. The exhortation flows out of the prophetic strain.

    It wasn't an argument, but an observation. If one accepts Deut. 12:32 then there is no room for a distinction between commanded and permissive elements of worship. If it is commanded it must be done; and if it is not commanded it must not be done.

    Hebrews prescribes the offering of the sacrifice of praise, chap. 13:15. No mention of mechanical instruments; but it does mention the means -- through Jesus. Clearly it regards Jesus as the fulfilment of the OT mechanical instruments.

    Temple, priesthood, and sacrifice were the centre of Israel's worship.

    If communion is accepted as a commemoration of a sacrifice, then there is no basis for alleging the use of sacrificial accompaniments like mechanical instruments.

    The disciples praised God at communion without the use of musical accompaniment; hence there is no need for musical accompaniment in order to fulfil the duty of praise to God at the commemoration of Christ's sacrifice. Paul's command does prescribe accompaniment of singing when he requires the singer to make melody in his heart; hence one fulfils his duty of singing praise when he makes melody in his heart without the use of mechanical instruments.

    You seem to have become confused as to what is the issue at this point. The issue is not non-instrumental psalmody, but your addition to the regulative principle of worship. The Confession and Catechisms speak of worship in terms of God's own appointment. It makes no provision for your view of "permissible" practices. You have failed to make any case let alone meet any burden of proof for the vindication of your unreformed view.

    Having asked you politely, I now speak as a moderator and call upon you to desist propagating this unconfessional view. You may argue for the use of instruments, but it must be within the guidelines of this board.

    Already answered. (1.) One must consult the surrounding context provided by the larger literary unit. (2.) Prophetic statements are accommodated to the understanding of the people to whom they were delivered -- in this case, Zion.

    And presumably if "singing to one another" was not edifying in itself the apostle would have required the use of musical accompaniment.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Though I am not EP, I must back up Matthew on this. You need to use an argument built upon a view of worship within the bounds of the RPW and not introduce a novel concept of permissible practices to skirt the requirement that an element of worship must be prescribed. My own view is that instruments are a circumstance but I do not have time to engage in this debate. My sole point is that we need to form our arguments here on the basis of the RPW.
  17. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    There's no necessary connection between these two statements with regard to the use of instruments. Yes, the Temple worship came to an end, but that doesn't necessarily mean that that fact's interpretation includes the banishment of musical instruments from Christian worship services. Just because Calvin says so doesn't make it so.

    This is a personal opinion (to which you are entitled), not a biblical fact.
  18. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    That would be nice if it was only Calvin making the argument. And as has been shown ad nauseum in this and other threads there is oodles of Biblical evidence to make this point.
  19. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    Bookslover writes:

    I think there is a necessary connection evidenced by the historical facts. The church stopped using musical instruments after the fall of the Temple. In the OT musical instruments were only associated with Temple/Tabernacle worship. This is so abundantly clear that even the Samaritans understood what the Jews were saying, John 4:20.

    Worship in the New Testament is not modeled after Temple worship, but after the worship found in the Synagogue. The whole argument of Paul in Hebrews attests to this: that the Temple and its services prefigured the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now that we possess the fulfillment and the reality of the figures - the shadows are no longer necessary.

    It is on this point that we understand musical instruments to have been abolished, because the instruments of the Temple prefigured the Joy of Salvation in Jesus Christ - a joy that cannot be elicited any longer through the use of musical instruments, but by the inward work of the Spirit of God. Thus, David Dickson writes of Psalm 150:

    We have an abundant testimony in Scripture that we are no longer to use instruments in worship, but are to praise God with our own hearts:

    Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, Eph. 5:19.

    And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them, Acts 16:25

    Let the word of Christ dwell 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. 3:16.

    Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1:8.

    As Jesus says to the Samaritan woman:

    But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship hin in spirit and in truth, John 4:23,24.

    The non-use of musical instruments in the Spiritual worship of God in the New Testament is not simply a matter of the testimony of John Calvin, but has been the conviction of the Church throughout the ages - beginning with the 1st Century. The Rev. Price (whose book was mentioned earlier) has gathered many quotes from the Early Church Fathers and onward concerning the Church's attitude towards musical instruments:

    The use of musical instruments in American Presbyterianism dates back to only the middle of the 19th century. The use of the organ was strenuously opposed by Dabney, Warfield, Thornwell, and Peck to name a few. C. H. Spurgeon opposed the use of musical instruments among Baptists during his time:

    There is no doubt in my mind that the use of a mechanical means to worship God, who is a Spirit, is a carnal, and not a spiritual ordinance.

    Though it may be an "opinion" of mine I do believe I have the Scriptures as well as Church Tradition on my side.

    Grace and Peace,

  20. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    There are others reading this thread besides myself. They may not be familiar with the literature.
    The premise that the psalms are were consciously composed for Israel's temple use simply does not follow by necessary consequence from David's words at this point. Although he claims anointing by the Spirit, that he was Israel's singer of psalms and V. 2 repeats the claim of the Spirit speaking through him, we cannot absolutely determine whether David intended the latter claim as a true general statement describing his psalms (if we take it as linked to v.1) or whether that he intended v. 2 to preface what he says in vv. 3b and 4. Even if one can establish that v.2 is linked specifically to his psalms only, David here says nothing about any limitations the Holy Spirit placed on their use.

    Does the NT ever identify the entire book as Davidic or does it limit Davidic identification to particular psalms? Moreover the subscription has to be looked at a little more carefully. This subscription clearly identifies this one psalm as a prayer of David, but there is no evidence in any other psalm that "Of x" refers to anything else than authorship as in the case of Psalm 18.
    It cannot be proved that "Of Moses" in Ps. 90 does not identify the author.

    Unfortunately that contention has not been proven. See my comments on Hengstenberg above.

    The canonical form of Jeremiah tells us the dates on which the two prophecies of ch 36 and 45 were given which was the same year. The canonical form of Jeremiah intersperses betwen these two chapters material which it specifically dates at least 11 years later. It is the canonical form of Jeremiah that establishes once and for all that we cannot conclude that adjacent materials in the OT are necessarily given in chronological order.
    And that is the only point I was making.

    Now focusing on Jeremiah was a bit of a debating trick, because your answer tells me that you are so sure of your case you did not perform the biblical requirement to "test all things" before replying. Had you done so you would have gone to the Psalms and tried to establish whether the canonical Psalms answer the question of whether or not they are in chronological order. The fact is that at least 3 psalms are presented in the canonical book out of chronological sequence. If the book was ordered chronologically Ps. 30 should not come before either Ps. 34 or Ps. 142

  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    This is unacceptable. I'm not going to allow an "open door" interpretation of the RPW here that the LBCF writers "presumed" but did not mandate. We have to have some boundaries here. As I stated you will either argue within the boundaries of the RPW or will desist.

    I suppose it's time to close the thread.
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