instruments and dancing in EP?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Matthew1344, Mar 15, 2017.

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  1. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    While reading this, I looked at 1 chron 25 and 26. Psalm tiles. I have a friend who is studying greek, hopefully looking up the titles in the septuagint for me.

    I did notice in some of the psalms, it mentions playing instruments. Does this give us authority to still do so? It have not seen any speaking of holy water, ephods, or candles, so i do not see reason to carry those over to the NT instruction of worship. But, if the NT says to sings the psalms, and the psalms instruct us to use instruments, is that authority for instruments.

    Lastly, it also says something about dancing a couple times. Ill be honest. I am not a fan of that at all. I have even spoken against it. I am just admitting a bias. Any help to understand true meaning here?
  2. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    No, the singing and use of these Psalms does not give warrant to use dance and instruments, for the following reasons:

    a) some of the Psalms which relate the use of such, as 149 and 150, clearly refer to contexts beyond temple/congregational/gathered public worship, and thus ought not be taken as descriptions of such, and and thus ought not to be seen as normative of, or warrant for the inclusion of the various elements within worship in our day any more than they were in their own day. We should also note well than only very specific instruments were permitted in public worship and number of those mentioned in these Psalms were not permitted.

    b) Many of the Psalms relate to cultural 'celebrations' which in the theocratic, or more theocratic society of the Old Covenant era, very closely mirror, or are similar to public worship, but do not need to be identical.

    c) Those Psalms which include references to instrumentation and/or dance in the gathered worship context, are excluded from NT worship by Christ himself, since they are so directly connected to the Old Covenant Ceremonial law, which is fulfilled in his Person and Work, cf. various texts in Hebrews, and in addition in John 4, he teaches us that New Testament is no longer to connected to any one geographical location and the people and ceremonies connected therewith.
  3. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    While I think all the early Reformed tradition rejected instruments, starting with Calvin, the Dutch re-adopted instruments (the organ or piano primarily) early on. To this day, many Dutch Reformed churches use the Psalms almost exclusively (with a handful of Scripture songs and maybe the Apostle's Creed sometimes used as well) with accompaniment, whereas the Scottish/Presbyterian sing the Psalms without accompaniment.

    Generally instruments are seen as being uniquely connected with ceremonial worship and without command for their continued use in the new covenant. A classic work on this that is still approachable is Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church by Girardeau. Here's a link to read it free:
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    I'll only say if the Psalms instruct us to play instruments, then you also need to take into account their instruction toward sacrifices and going to the temple, etc. We know that we are not going to offer sacrifices or go to the temple for doctrinal reasons (ceremonial law fulfilled in Christ). One needs to look at where instruments were instituted in the Scriptures, under the Levitical priesthood, and we'd find that instruments too for public worship belong under the ceremonial law and were fulfilled in Christ.

    Some Psalms referring to instruments also point to contexts of not public worship, that should be taken into consideration as well.

    [I'm fairly new to holding this view, so if someone more skilled comes along, I fully welcome that.]
  5. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Jake, just clarifying that the "their" in the first sentence of your last paragraph is referring to musical instruments, not the Psalms.
  6. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Matthew, don't be troubled by the EP position. Of course you can use instruments in your worship. And you are free to write musical compositions - just as the writers and compilers of the Psalms (some of whom were post-exilic) were free to compose music in the Mosaic dispensation of the covenant of grace. Remember, the Psalms weren't simply a church-hymnal for the Old Covenant, it was a collection of songs to be sung in various life situations inside and outside of corporate worship (mostly outside). Only the elements directly related to the cultic/sacrificial system have found their terminus in Christ. So don't allow someone to put on you a heavy yoke of law prohibiting you from worshipping with instruments.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
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  7. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Keep on topic folks. Pro and contra may respond; but be constructive and respectful.
  8. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks, fixed it. :)
  9. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    It should give one pause that musical instruments were generally not in uncontested use until modern times. This is what first caught my attention, before I came to the EP position. The weight of church testimony means something. If you search back through PB threads in EP you can get a lot of good information, links, and other resources.

    As to us being free to compose songs for worship just as writers and compilers of the Psalms were, that can't be true since those writers and compilers were prophets and their songs are inspired Scripture.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  10. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    The Puritanboard has years worth of dozens of posts/threads on this topic. The sum of it is, if you are convicted that the Regulative Principle of Worship only allows the singing of psalms, you will be an exclusive psalmist and will marshall arguments for that position. If you believe that the Regulative Principle of Worship commands the singing of both psalms and hymns, you will not be an exclusive psalmist and will marshall arguments for hymnody. I have been following this closely for more than a decade here, and frankly, all the time someone (on either side) claims to have come up with the "end all be all argument." It has not happened.

    My own meager contribution over the years (you can do a search) is that the main argument advanced by the author in your link is strained to incredulity. To say that Greek, Gentile Christians who has virtually no experience with the Septuagint would read "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" as "psalms, psalms, and psalms" because of the uninspired Greek translation of headers to a psalm is incredibly weak. Add to that the fact that the same Gentile Greek Christians would have several millennia of a clear notion of what a "hymn" is (going back to Homer, Hesiod, and the like) and that they would abandon said cultural knowledge for the uninspired translation of a book they likely had no copies of, is weak indeed.

    But I now expect to be forcefully corrected by those who all of a sudden think that the uninspired text regulates the inspired text.
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  11. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    This is straying from the OP, but just wanted to comment that when early Gentile Christians read that Christ and the disciples went out and sang a hymneo (Matthew 26:30) hopefully they understood that this meant a Psalm. Psalms are called hymns by the NT Bible writers, so I would think that the use of "hymn" for a Psalm must have been widely accepted.
  12. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    2 Samuel 23:1-2 teaches that David was the sweet psalmist of Israel, and I believe that he held that office in trust and type until the Word Himself would come. The Psalms were composed by "the Spirit of the Lord speaking by me, and His word was in my mouth." A claim that no one in the New Testament dispensation can make, for David received it by revelation. Indeed there is no longer the office of composer or leader of praise for that was fulfilled by Christ. As a former hymnist a long time ago, it occurred to me that hymns are error strewn and therefore unfit to render unto the Lord.
    We are told in 1Chron 25:7 that the appointed singers "were instructed in the songs of the Lord." They were not permitted to device or conjure up poetic imaginations of their own, but were given what God Almighty ordained how He should be praised. And the appointed musicians in 1chron25: 1-3," prophesied "with the instruments. They supported the utterers or the choristers in their rendering up of the word of God , the Psalms being prophetical. Again we are told in 1Chron16:42 that those appointed should "make a sound with instruments of God." Those ordered by God, which in another place it states, "4000 praised the Lord with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith." Under inspiration he even received the pattern of instruments and worship. If OT worship was regulated by God, then the NT era is not a dispensation of licence. And because the instruments were integral with the ceremonial law ( as were candles, vestments, priesthood, temple etc), then they too passed away.
  13. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    1) We don't know who wrote all the Psalms. And we certainly do not know who compiled them and arranged them. But we do know that they were being used prior to their compilation. In short: the Jews felt free to write songs.
    2) Being a prophet, or a priest, or a king does NOT free one from the obligations and limitations of God's covenant. Numerous biblical examples establish this point. It is important to remember that God's covenant is found in the Torah. This sets the left and right limits of what God said was acceptable. The rest of the OT is an inspired record of the history of God's people, but it doesn't move those left and right limits of God's covenant set back in the Torah. Thus if David, Solomon or anyone else demonstrates freedom to do X then it either reveals they were in fact free to do it, or it was sinful rebellion. Faithfulness is for Old Covenant believers, even kings and prophets, lay in conformity to God's covenant at Sinai, until the New Covenant appeared.
  14. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Apparently you miss the point: it is a fallacy to look at the OT in toto as we have it and think that the entire OT represents the stipulations of the Old Covenant, which was singularly established at Sinai. Put yourself on the ground in the midst of redemptive history: The Old Covenant regulations concerning worship were set by God through Moses. In God's law there is nothing about instruments, etc. Yes, over 1000 years later we read of instruments being commanded... but for someone living, say 100, years after Moses... where would he have found the authorization for instruments since it isn't prescribed in the law? 200 years? 500 years? All the way up until David instructs it. Are we supposed to believe that for hundreds of years these things were absent and then all of a sudden they're invented? Hardly. Because the Jews understood they had freedom to add choirs, instruments, and dancers that were completely foreign to the explicit language at Sinai, they felt free to worship with those means as a gift to and from God.
  15. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    The Matthew passage does not say that the disciples sang [verb] a hymn [noun]. It says that they "sang" (ὑμνέω) [verb only]. We (properly) I believe infer that the Jewish disciples would have sung a song familiar to them in a semi-liturgical context, that is, a Psalm. But in another context, for example, if the verb was describing the activity of Roman legionaries, it would have been a different thing sung. In Ephesians 5 (and Colossians 3) we have two distinct nouns that have clear historical meaning: psalm and hymn. And that still requires Paul to have this odd stutter, repeating the "same" word three times in order to somehow comply with an uninspired addition to a translation of the Bible unused by Greeks in order to convince said Greeks (not Hebrews!) what to sing to encourage one another.
  16. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Why do we need to know who wrote all the Psalms if we know they're inspired writings?And so, written by prophets. I'm sure that any Jew could write a song, but could any Jew write Scripture? I may be missing your point.
  17. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    There is no "office" of "sweet Psalmist. No one else is given this "office" although there are other writers of Psalms. Nowhere else is this "office" described or even mentioned in the Bible. To say that a single comment in a text establishes an office so as to prohibit all other song (except, ironically, other Psalms written by "non-sweet Psalmist") is exegetical gymnastics beyond imagination.
  18. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    The OP concerns musical instruments and dance, so maybe another thread for why EP is or is not the biblical position?
  19. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I liked your whole post, but I just want to add my Amen to the line quoted above.
  20. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Correct, while normally moderators don't get upset about rabbit trails here and there on threads, yet since 1. this was already suggested as a separate topic from another thread, and 2. since in this case the rabbit trail is EP, I'd suggest to everyone to follow what I said above already, to please keep on topic (and to please be respectful and charitable). If you want to discuss EP for the thousandth time, start another thread.
  21. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There are many myths about the Psalms. People make of them what they will. It is important to receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and to read and use the Psalms as Christian Scripture. The book of Hebrews in particular demonstrates the Christian view of the Psalms and provides a necessary corrective to human myths about the Psalms. In the book of Hebrews we learn that the Psalms are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and continue to carry that inspired quality even when they are translated into other languages; that David is the penman of the Psalms and spoke as the Christ (Anointed) of God; that Christ is the Davidic king and the royal high priest over the house of God who sings the inspired Psalms in the midst of the congregation so as to make known the saving name of God to His brethren; and that these Psalms are for Today, and even Today the church hears the voice of Christ in the Psalms.
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  22. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The musical instruments were played by certain Levites in the Temple. Other Levites were not to play them, neither were anyone else. It was their office. Note these texts:

    1 Chron 15:16:
    2 Chron 5:12-13:
    Note also that the particular instruments they were played were given by David, who was a prophet ordained to institute new worship practices (so, pianos, organs, or guitars would not have been permissible):

    1 Chron 23:5:
    2 Chron 29:26:
    Not at all. The psalms make numerous references to the ceremonial system of the temple (of which the musical instruments mentioned were a part). Consider these passages:

    Ps 118:27:
    Ps 51:18-19:
    Ps 20:1-3:
    The burden of proof is on those who are in favor of instruments to show that a command to certain Levites to play certain instruments as a function of their ecclesiastical office now applies to any Christian to play any instrument apart from office.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  23. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    An interesting thing I realized a couple of years ago is that the musical instruments for the OT people of God were keliy. Strong's defines keliy as "an article, a vessel, an implement, a utensil, a tool."

    Some of the other ways keily is translated (when not in conjunction with music) are "furniture," "articles," "weapons," "clothing," "baggage," armor," "yoke," "tool," "implement," "jar," "vessel," and "equipment." Keily is related to furnishing or equipping.

    It first appears in Scripture when describing the furnishings of the Tabernacle (i.e. the ark, the mercy seat, the cherubim, the table, and the candlestick). God commanded Moses to make and use these keliy exactly according to the pattern He showed him on the mountain (Exodus 25:9).

    In the course of time God gave a further pattern to David "the man of God," which included the use of musical keliy in the Temple worship of God. David, like Moses, was careful to furnish the worship of God exactly according to this pattern; we're told in 2 Chronicles 29:25-30 that all was done "according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets."

    So, in the Old Testament, there were keliy for the furnishing of the Tabernacle; and beginning in 1 Chronicles 15:16 with David's appointment of the Levites to give praise, keliy to furnish out the corporate praise and thanking of God. The point I'm hoping to make is that keliy were keliy, whether in the form of a candlestick or a harp or loud cymbals, and that when their purpose was for furnishing out the worship of the people, they were only by strict command, according to the pattern given by God. There was no innovation or license given. There was also nothing more holy about the musical instruments than about the Tabernacle instruments. They were all dedicated and made holy for their temporal use in that dispensation.

    The New Testament Greek word that conveys the same sense as keliy is hoplon, which appears once in the New Testament, in Romans 6:13: "Do not present your members to sin as hoplon (instruments)..." Strong's defines hoplon as "any tool or implement...arms used in warfare, weapons." So hoplon in the New Testament also conveys the idea of a utensil, a tool, something useful, and in the NT it's our bodies and its various members; dedicated to holy service to the Lord, and including our tongues for the giving of thanks and praise (superceding, I believe, the lifeless keliy of the old dispensation).

    Here's some interesting etymological data: the use of the English word "instrument" to translate keliy would have been chosen by early translators of the English Bible because at that time, it still conveyed the sense of its roots in the Old French estrument and the Latin instrumentem, meaning "a tool, apparatus, furniture, dress, document." Instrumentem is linked to instruere (to instruct, to arrange, inform, teach). We still retain a vestige of this earlier meaning when we speak of surgical instruments (a tool) or legal instruments (an instructive tool).

    (I copied and pasted here from some writing I did on the subject a couple of years ago and thought I'd pass it along, in case others might find it interesting or helpful!)
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  24. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Great point, Jeri. I'll add that Exodus 31 implies that, not only were these implements of worship built after a divinely given pattern, but the very building of them was conducted under divine inspiration:

    Pair this passage with the one i mentioned earlier (1 Chron 23:5):
  25. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Rev. Duncan,

    Let me see if I understand your position--you don't think that David was giving a divine commandment when he ordered the Levites to worship using the instruments that he made?

    Secondly, are you saying that you believe that the people of God were using instruments before David gave the command (and built instruments)?
  26. richardnz

    richardnz Puritan Board Freshman

    I have read Girardeau’s “Instrumental Worship in the Public Worship of the Church” and I note that he says,

    “In the fourth place, I lay down the proposition that the instrumental music of the temple-worship was typical of the joy and triumph of God’s believing people to result from the plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost in New Testament times.”

    Where does he get the idea from that instruments are typical of joy and triumph?

    “It was suited to discharge such a significant office in the age in which God saw fit to prescribe its employment as a part of a typical ritual. It produces an exhilaration of the senses, and that is about all that it does produce.”

    Here he seems to be saying that the function of music in the temple is to produce “an exhilaration of the senses”. Where in the Bible does he get this idea from?

    His statements seem to me to be somewhat speculative, but maybe someone can explain them.
  27. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If we take a closer look at the teaching of the historical books of the Old Testament and the Psalms we find that the musical instruments served the purpose of providing a priestly orchestration for the sacrifices. In the Psalms the instruments are connected with making a joyful noise, among other things.

    In contrast the New Testament regards such mechanical instruments as lifeless, and unworthy the spiritual nature of that worship we are to offer to God. We have not come to "the sound of a trumpet." We have come to "Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Through Jesus we are to continually offer the sacrifice of praise. When we sing together we are to make melody in our hearts, which is paralleled with the expression that we are to sing with grace in our hearts.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2017
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  28. richardnz

    richardnz Puritan Board Freshman

    I can see that the playing of the temple instruments was connected with the sacrifices, and that there was something special about them, even if it was only that those particular instruments were for temple worship only. The trumpets were also used for summoning people to worship, like the trumpets on Mt Sinai, but that function seems to be separate from accompanying singing. How 120 trumpets were used with singing I do not know. You would think that the volume would drown out the singers. Then there is the question as to whether there was any other singing other than that of the temple singers. There are some indications that the congregation may have been silent or an “Amen” may be uttered.

    I have read a number of opinions of Reformed writers who try to explain that the instruments are typological of something, (and are therefore abolished) but none of them seems to know what they are typological of.

    Girardeau is not unusual when by a process of elimination he concludes:-

    “ was designed to be a type of that spiritual and triumphant joy which is engendered by the plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost upon believers under the Christian dispensation. The Spirit having been poured out , and that abundant joy of believers having been experienced, the shadow gave way to the substance, the type to the antitype.”

    “In the fourth place, I lay down the proposition that the instrumental music of the temple-worship was typical of the joy and triumph of God’s believing people to result from the plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost in New Testament times.”

    I was looking for something more substantial than his saying, “I cannot find any typological category to put it in, so it must be this one”.

    I am sympathetic to the idea that if it was specified that certain instruments were to be used for temple worship then it is significant. Most other specifications for the temple had some kind of typical or symbolic function and most of these are obvious, as many writers have pointed out. Ps 150 suggests that the instruments are to praise God, but how can an inanimate object praise God? The Psalm exhorts everything that has breath to praise the Lord, but how can breathing creatures other than men praise God?

    But then Is 55:12 says, “ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Maybe Ps 150 is using hyperbolic language to convey the idea that the presence of God creates such an abundance of joy that all of created creatures and objects would be singing if they were given voices. Maybe the temple instruments were representative of the “voices” of the created world, joined with the voices of living men to produce the worship of all of creation? The trouble with this idea of mine is that it has no more support from scripture than the idea that the instruments are “typical of the joy and triumph of God's believing people”.

    Maybe there is nothing typological about the instruments at all. Maybe they were purely functional.
  29. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    On the idea of the musical instruments as accompaniment to the singing, that seems to be a modern idea. It's useful to do a word study for massa', shama, shiyr, kinnowr, higgayon, and zamar. It's also interesting and a little disturbing to compare modern translations (I compared the ESV) to the KJV; the word 'music' is used or even inserted in ways that could be misleading. I think certainly could cloud the issue. But aside from that, here are some interesting verses to consider:

    1 Chronicles 15:16:

    "And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding (shama) by lifting up the voice (qowl) with joy."

    The goal being to lift up a voice through 'sounding,' which was done by the human voices raised together with the "instruments" (keliy) of music. The idea in the Hebrew is of proclamation by way of this sounding.

    2 Chronicles 5:13:

    "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound (qowl) to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice (qowl) with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD..."

    Again obviously the human voices together with voices of the trumpets, cymbals, and instruments of music "were as one" and lifted up together they made one voice "to be heard"(!). I suppose it came up before the Lord as a sweet-smelling savor, a type.

    2 Chronicles 7:6:

    "And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood."

    So again the office of the priest praised 'by' the ministry of the instruments, which David had made 'to praise' the LORD.

    Psalm 49:4, "I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp (kinnowr)."
    Again the harp was a vessel for prophecy, a keliy...

    Psalm 92:1-3, "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound (higgayown)..."

    And once again the psaltery and harp were keliy, vessels for giving thanks, praise, and proclamation.

    I just think it takes study and meditating on all these things to come to a firm conviction from Scripture.
  30. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I think there is a connection between what Girardeau is saying in light of John 4 and Eph. 5, particularly the phrase "making melody in your heart to the Lord".
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