Musical Intrustments commanded before, why not today?

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I didn't drop out of this discussion but it was a very busy weekend. I was looking through Edersheim's The Temple and It's Ministry here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/temple.html

If you look in the html version you can find an interesting history about instrumental music that I believe relates to the issue of "creativity"
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/temple.htm#v-p16.8

<h4 id="v-p18.1">The Influence of David</h4>
<p class="normal" id="v-p19">The music of the Temple owed its origin to David, who was
not only a poet and a musical composer, but who also invented musical
instruments (<scripRef passage="Amos 6:5" id="v-p19.1" parsed="|Amos|6|5|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Amos.6.5">Amos 6:5</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="1 Chron 23:5" id="v-p19.2" parsed="|1Chr|23|5|0|0" osisRef="Bible:1Chr.23.5">1 Chron 23:5</scripRef>), especially the ten-stringed <i>Nevel</i>
or lute (<scripRef passage="Psa 33:2" id="v-p19.3" parsed="|Ps|33|2|0|0" osisRef="Bible:ps.33.2">Psa 33:2</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Psalm 144:9" id="v-p19.4" parsed="|Ps|144|9|0|0" osisRef="Bible:ps.144.9">144:9</scripRef>). From the Book of Chronicles we know how fully this
part of the service was cultivated, although the statement of Josephus (<i>Anti</i>.
viii. 3, 8.), that Solomon had provided forty thousand harps and lutes, and two
hundred thousand silver trumpets, is evidently a gross exaggeration. The Rabbis
enumerate thirty-six different instruments, of which only fifteen are mentioned
in the Bible, and of these five in the Pentateuch. As in early Jewish poetry
there was neither definite and continued metre (in the modern sense), nor
regular and premeditated rhyme, so there was neither musical notation, nor yet
any artificial harmony. The melody was simple, sweet, and sung in unison to the
accompaniment of instrumental music. Only one pair of brass cymbals were allowed
to be used. But this "˜sounding brass´ and "˜tinkling cymbal´ formed no part of
the Temple music itself, and served only as the signal to begin that part of the
service. To this the apostle seems to refer when, in <scripRef passage="1 Corinthians 13:1" id="v-p19.5" parsed="|1Cor|13|1|0|0" osisRef="Bible:1Cor.13.1">1 Corinthians 13:1</scripRef>, he
compares the gift of "˜tongues´ to the sign or signal by which the real music of
the Temple was introduced.</p>

<h4 id="v-p19.6">The Harp and Lute</h4>
<p class="normal" id="v-p20">That music was chiefly sustained by the harp (Kinnor) and
the lute (Nevel). Of the latter (which was probably used for solos) not less
than two or more than six were to be in the Temple orchestra; of the former, or
harp, as many as possible, but never less than nine. There were, of course,
several varieties both of the Nevel and the Kinnor. The chief difference between
these two kinds of stringed instruments lay in this, that in the Nevel (lute or
guitar) the strings were drawn over the sounding-board, while in the Kinnor they
stood out free, as in our harps. Of wind-instruments we know that, besides their
silver trumpets, the priests also blew the Shophar or horn, notably at the new
moon, on the Feast of the New Year (<scripRef passage="Psa 81:3" id="v-p20.1" parsed="|Ps|81|3|0|0" osisRef="Bible:ps.81.3">Psa 81:3</scripRef>), and to proclaim the Year of
Jubilee (<scripRef passage="Lev 25:9" id="v-p20.2" parsed="|Lev|25|9|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Lev.25.9">Lev 25:9</scripRef>), which, indeed, thence derived its name. Originally the
Shophar was probably a ram´s horn (Jos., <i>Ant</i>. v. 5, 6.), but afterwards
it was also made of metal. The Shophar was chiefly used for its loud and
far-sounding tones (<scripRef passage="Exo 19:16, 19" id="v-p20.3" parsed="|Exod|19|16|0|0;|Exod|19|19|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Exod.19.16 Bible:Exod.19.19">Exo 19:16, 19</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Exodus 20:18" id="v-p20.4" parsed="|Exod|20|18|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Exod.20.18">20:18</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Isa 58:1" id="v-p20.5" parsed="|Isa|58|1|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Isa.58.1">Isa 58:1</scripRef>). At the Feast of the New
Year, one priest with a Shophar was placed between those who blew the trumpets;
while on fast-days a priest with a Shophar stood on each side of them"”the tones
of the Shophar being prolonged beyond those of the trumpets. In the synagogues
out of Jerusalem the Shophar alone was blown at the New Year, and on fast-days
only trumpets.</p>

<h4 id="v-p20.6">The Flute</h4>
<p class="normal" id="v-p21">The flute (or reed pipe) was played in the Temple on twelve
special festivities.<a style="mso-footnote-id:ftn28" href="#_ftn28" name="_ftnref28"><span class="MsoFootnoteReference"><span style="mso-special-character:footnote"><![if !supportFootnotes]><span class="MsoFootnoteReference">[1]</span><![endif]></span></span></a></p>

<p class="normal" id="v-p22">These were: the day of killing the first, and that of
killing the second Passover, the first day of unleavened bread, Pentecost, and
the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles. Quite in accordance with the social
character of these feasts, the flute was also used by the festive pilgrim-bands
on their journey to Jerusalem, to accompany "˜the Psalms of Degrees,´ or rather
of "˜Ascent´ (<scripRef passage="Isa 30:29" id="v-p22.1" parsed="|Isa|30|29|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Isa.30.29">Isa 30:29</scripRef>), sung on such occasions. It was also customary to play
it at marriage feasts and at funerals (<scripRef passage="Matt 9:23" id="v-p22.2" parsed="|Matt|9|23|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Matt.9.23">Matt 9:23</scripRef>); for according to Rabbinical
law every Jew was bound to provide at least two flutes and one mourning woman at
the funeral of his wife. In the Temple, not less than two nor more than twelve
flutes were allowed, and the melody was on such occasions to close with the
notes of one flute alone. Lastly, we have sufficient evidence that there was a
kind of organ used in the Temple (the <i>Magrephah</i>), but whether merely for
giving signals or not, cannot be clearly determined.</p>

<h4 id="v-p22.3">The Human Voice</h4>
<p class="normal" id="v-p23">As already stated, the service of praise was mainly
sustained by the human voice. A good voice was the one qualification needful for
a Levite. In the second Temple female singers seem at one time to have been
employed (<scripRef passage="Ezra 2:65" id="v-p23.1" parsed="|Ezra|2|65|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Ezra.2.65">Ezra 2:65</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Neh 7:67" id="v-p23.2" parsed="|Neh|7|67|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Neh.7.67">Neh 7:67</scripRef>). In the Temple of Herod their place was supplied
by Levite boys. Nor did the worshippers any more take part in the praise, except
by a responsive Amen. It was otherwise in the first Temple, as we gather from <scripRef passage="1 Chronicles 16:36" id="v-p23.3" parsed="|1Chr|16|36|0|0" osisRef="Bible:1Chr.16.36">1
Chronicles 16:36</scripRef>, from the allusion in <scripRef passage="Jeremiah 33:11" id="v-p23.4" parsed="|Jer|33|11|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Jer.33.11">Jeremiah 33:11</scripRef>, and also from such <scripRef passage="Psalms as 26:12" id="v-p23.5">Psalms
as 26:12</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Psalm 68:26" id="v-p23.6" parsed="|Ps|68|26|0|0" osisRef="Bible:ps.68.26">68:26</scripRef>. At the laying of the foundation of the second Temple, and at
the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the singing seems to have been
antiphonal, or in responses (<scripRef passage="Ezra 3:10, 11" id="v-p23.7" parsed="|Ezra|3|10|0|0;|Ezra|3|11|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Ezra.3.10 Bible:Ezra.3.11">Ezra 3:10, 11</scripRef>; <scripRef passage="Neh 12:27, 40" id="v-p23.8" parsed="|Neh|12|27|0|0;|Neh|12|40|0|0" osisRef="Bible:Neh.12.27 Bible:Neh.12.40">Neh 12:27, 40</scripRef>), the two choirs
afterwards apparently combining, and singing in unison in the Temple itself.
Something of the same kind was probably also the practice in the first Temple.
What the melodies were to which the Psalms had been sung, it is, unfortunately,
now impossible to ascertain. Some of the music still used in the synagogue must
date from those times, and there is no reason to doubt that in the so-called
Gregorian <i>tones</i> we have also preserved to us a close approximation to the
ancient hymnody of the Temple, though certainly not without considerable
alterations.</p>
Understand that there was a primacy given to the human voice in the Temple Worship but I wonder the following: Was David inspired by God to invent a 10 stringed instrument for use in the Temple? Did he perhaps have incedible skill that He used for the Glory of God? There is certainly no command prior to David inventing the instrument so worship went on for centuries prior to its introduction. It was at some point, certainly, a new element in Levitical worship.

This further got me thinking: we are specifically commanded to praise God with the harp, lyre, cymbals, hands and some other instruments in praise. It seems that Temple Worship at least obeyed those enjoinders. I have yet to see an EP person arguing that we are violating the RPW by ignoring that detail. If moving the ark of the Covenant by a cart instead of poles borne by Levites is a violation of a positive command of the RPW why are we not in violation of it by using any but the instruments commanded by God?

[Edited on 4-10-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I split this thread from the psalmody thread because it is a seperate issue than the one being discussed there.

Rich has posted some interesting information for acepella advocates to consider.

It is also interesting the the basic meaning of "psalm" in Greek or Hebrew means "a song to instrumental accompaniment." (HALOT and BDAG). So if this is the meaning of the word, and we must do what God commands in worship, are we not then commanded to use musical instruments in worship?
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by puritansailor
I split this thread from the psalmody thread because it is a seperate issue than the one being discussed there.

Rich has posted some interesting information for acepella advocates to consider.

It is also interesting the the basic meaning of "psalm" in Greek or Hebrew means "a song to instrumental accompaniment." (HALOT and BDAG). So if this is the meaning of the word, and we must do what God commands in worship, are we not then commanded to use musical instruments in worship?
Interesting, I too noticed the meaning of "Psalm" in Greek and I just posed this exact question in my mind over the weekend. I was going to bring it up today.

I also was reading Edersheim's book IV over the weekend - granted not related to the topic, but a coincidence nonetheless.








[Edited on 4-10-2006 by ChristopherPaul]
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Musical Instruments in Public Worship

The use of musical instruments in public worship today is almost universal. Pianos and organs have been used for generations to set the "˜proper´ mood during the service and have been used to accompany the singing of hymns. As the 20th century draws to a close many churches have adopted the use of full-fledged bands with electric guitars, electric bass, keyboard, horns, and drums. Rock, pop, and country style bands are used as tools of church growth. Church growth materials argue that having a good band with upbeat music and worship songs will attract visitors and keep people coming back. Although musical instruments are powerful tools in the arsenal of emotional manipulation, does God´s word authorize their use in public worship in the new covenant era? A study of the use of musical instruments in the Bible reveals that the use of musical instruments in worship is connected to the sacrificial system and is an aspect of the ceremonial law. A brief survey of the use of musical instruments in the Bible will prove this assertion.

1. The Invention of Music

Adam and Eve, who worshiped God before the fall, used only their voices in the praise of Jehovah. This assertion is proved by the fact that musical instruments were not invented for another eight generations. "œAnd Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of all those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother´s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and the flute" (Gen. 4:20-21). "œJubal was the "˜father´ of all who play the harp and flute. It goes without saying that these instruments were still very primitive. Although these were greatly refined in later times, Jubal was the first to employ musical instruments for the purpose of making music."52 God records that the ungodly line of Cain took the initiative in the development of culture: Jabal: husbandry; Jubal: music; Tubal-Cain: metallurgy.53

2. Personal Pleasure

There are a number of instances in the Bible of musical instruments being used for the purpose of personal pleasure or entertainment. After Laban caught up with Jacob, who had slipped away at night, he said, "œWhy did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp?" (Gen. 31:27). Job refers to the use of music for family entertainment purposes: "œThey send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the flute" (Job 21:11-12). Music also was used to accompany drunken feasts and parties, much like today. "œThe harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine in their feasts" (Isa. 5:12; cf. 24:8-9; Amos 6:5-6). These instances obviously do not refer to public worship.

3. Victory Celebrations

Musical instruments are also used for victory celebrations. After God´s deliverance of the people of Israel from the armies of Egypt, the people celebrated and sang the song of Moses. "œThen Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels54 and with dances. And Miriam answered them: Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!" (Ex. 15:20-21). It was the common practice of Israel to celebrate great victories with women dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments. "œNow it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced..." (1 Sam. 18:6-7). After the Lord delivered the people of Ammon into Jephthah´s hands it says: "œWhen Jephthah came to his house at Mizphah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing" (Jud. 11:34). The prophet Jeremiah spoke of the resettlement of the Israelites in their own land in terms of great joy and celebration: "œAgain I will build you, and shall be rebuilt, a virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, and shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice" (Jer. 31:4).
These passages have a number of things in common. First, only the women played the instruments and danced. They are segregated from the men. Second, the use of instruments is always used in conjunction with dancing; the two are never separated. Third, in each instance there is a procession or forward movement. Fourth, each occasion is a direct response to a great national or local victory; that is, these are extraordinary celebrations and not set times of worship (however, there was annual dancing among the unmarried daughters of Shiloh, cf. Judges 21:19-23). Fifth, these celebrations were outdoor events; that is, they never occurred in the tabernacle, temple, or synagogue.
Do these national and local victory celebrations with women dancing, singing, and playing taborets justify the use of musical instruments in public worship? No, not at all. Although these celebrations by God´s people were done to the glory of God, there are a number of reasons why they should not be classed as formal public worship assemblies. First, although we repeatedly encounter (in the biblical record) groups of women dancing, singing, and playing instruments at outdoor celebrations, we never encounter women dancing and playing instruments in the tabernacle, temple, or synagogue. Second, the Bible says that everything required for God´s worship in the wilderness was shown to Moses on the mountain (Ex. 25:40; Heb. 8:5). Yet there are no instructions in Scripture giving women the authorization to dance and play instruments in the tabernacle. Third, in the biblical account Miriam leads a group of women in song, dance, and taboret playing. Yet the tabernacle service that was prescribed by God was led and conducted only by male Levites. The use of musical instruments in the temple (as noted below) also was reserved for the Levitical priesthood, all of whom were males. Fourth, these passages are really useless for those who are seeking a divine warrant for the use of pianos and organs in new covenant public worship; for even if they could be applied to new covenant formal worship they would prove that: only women could play musical instruments, only in conjunction with female dancing. Such a practice may be acceptable at a modern charismatic rock and roll jamfest, but is simply unacceptable to most conservative Presbyterians. The author does not know any Bible-believing Presbyterian pastors or elders who allow women to dance, leap, and play tambourines in the aisles of the church during the worship service. "œThe dance was an essential ingredient in the service in which instruments were used and cannot by any course of reasoning, or any evidence yet obtained, be excluded.... If instrumentation on this occasion furnished a warrant for the use of instruments in the worship of the present dispensation, and that instrumentation was for the purpose of leading the dance, there is no escape from the conclusion that the dance has at least as emphatic a warrant in New Testament worship as has the instrumentation."55

4. The Trumpets of Announcement

In Numbers 10:1-10, God commanded the making and use of two silver trumpets. The use of these trumpets was carefully prescribed by God. The only persons authorized to blow these trumpets were "œthe sons of Aaron, the priests" (v. 8). When both trumpets were blown, the whole assembly of people were to gather at the door of the tabernacle of meeting (v. 3). When only one trumpet was blown, only the leaders were to gather (vs.4). The trumpets were used to "œsound the call" for the Israelites to begin their journeys (vv.5-7) and were blown to "œsound an alarm" to go to war. The trumpets were also blown "œover" or during the sacrifices of the tabernacle.
Since the trumpets were not played during congregational or Levitical singing, and since their purpose throughout chapter 10 was to announce something or to sound an alarm, it is likely that the trumpets´ purpose during the sacrifice was to announce to the people the precise moment that the sacrifices were occurring. This, no doubt, would emphasize the solemnity and importance of the sacrifice. "œBut even if someone would insist that these trumpets were used, in some sense, as instruments of music in worship, it would still be true that this became true only when"”and because"”a divine command was then given. If this be the beginning of the use of instruments in worship, in other words, then it is noteworthy that it was a commanded beginning."56 Furthermore, it should also be noted that only priests (the sons of Aaron) were permitted by God to play the trumpets; and their use (during the religious assembly) occurred only during the sacrifice. Thus, they were directly associated with the ceremonial rituals.57 The ceremonial playing of these trumpets during the sacrifice in the tabernacle could be considered the bud which would expand and flower during the expanded, more grand ceremonial order instituted by David for the temple. Instead of two solitary trumpets during the sacrifice in the tabernacle, the temple also had a Levitical choir, cymbals, harps and lyres playing all at once. Both were Levitical and ceremonial and both occurred only during the sacrifice.

5. Musical Instruments and the Early Prophets

There are two instances of the use of musical instruments by prophets. The first instance is the company of prophets in 1 Samuel 10:5: "œAfter that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying." The second instance is Elisha´s prophecy against Moab: "œ"˜But now bring me a musician.´ And it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, "˜Thus says the Lord: Make this valley full of ditches´" (2 Kings 3:15-16). In these two instances the use of musical instruments was intimately connected with prophesying.
Do these passages justify the use of musical instruments in public worship? No, for these examples were not public worship. In the instance regarding Elisha it is clear that he was not singing praise to God but speaking the word of the Lord. In the example of the prophets coming down the hill there is no way that one can tell if they were singing or not. Even if they were singing, this instance would not be an example of a public worship service but of a festal procession. If this rather unusual instance in 1 Samuel 10 did justify the use of musical instruments in public worship, it would only authorize their use in accordance with prophecy or direct revelation. Since the prophetic office ceased with the close of the New Testament canon, this passage is not applicable to the new covenant church. Furthermore, given the fact that musical instruments were only used by priests and Levites during the temple service and were not used in the Jewish synagogues until A.D. 1810 in Germany, one can safely conclude that the Jews themselves did not regard this instance in 1 Samuel 10 as a justification for musical instruments in public worship.
What purpose did music serve in these examples? Many commentators mistakenly argue that instruments were used to induce a state of ecstasy or to produce a certain mindset suitable to receiving divine revelation. However, the Bible teaches that the prophets spoke because the Holy Spirit moved them (2 Pet. 1:21). Furthermore, the majority of prophets prophesied without music. Therefore, the ecstatic inducement theory should be rejected. Music may have been an outward sign of the Spirit´s working. Whatever the purpose of musical accompaniment to prophecy was, it certainly does not provide a foundation for the use of musical instruments in public worship today.

6. The Introduction of Music in Public Worship

Besides the trumpets of silver introduced by God into the tabernacle service under Moses, God appointed additional instruments toward the end of King David´s reign.58 These instruments were likely introduced in anticipation of the completion of the temple under Solomon. A careful study of the use of musical instruments in worship in the old covenant reveals that musical instruments were only played by certain authorized classes of Levites. Non-Levites never used musical instruments in public worship. The musical instruments that were used were not chosen arbitrarily by man but were designed by King David under divine inspiration. Also, musical instruments were only used in conjunction with animal sacrifices. During the temple service, musical instruments were only played during the sacrifice. An objective study of instrumental music in public worship in the old covenant proves that the use of musical instruments in public worship was ceremonial. This argument is considerably strengthened by the historical fact that musical instruments were not used in synagogue worship or the apostolic church.
The first recorded instance of musical instruments being used in public worship occurred during the festivities and ceremonies when the ark of God was moved to Jerusalem. "œThen David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets" (1 Chron. 13:8). This attempt to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem failed because the people involved did not follow the "œproper order" (15:13). The people did not do what God had commanded.59 In other words, they violated the regulative principle. "œGod smote Uzzah, not merely as a judgment upon him for his rash and unlawful act in taking hold of the ark, but as a rebuke to David, the priests, the Levites and all the people; and as an admonition to all future generations to take heed to the divine command in all the affairs of divine worship. In this act he gave single proof that the whole proceeding was wrong. Had the offence consisted simply in placing the ark upon the cart, and Uzzah´s taking hold of it, the remedy was at hand. The priest and Levites were present with the multitude, and could have been immediately directed to take charge of the ark, but the whole service was rejected by God as dishonoring to Him. David afterwards frankly acknowledges the disorder of the whole proceeding."60 "œFor because you [the Levites] did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order" (1 Chron. 15:13).
The second and successful moving of the ark to Jerusalem gives more details regarding the use of instruments at that time. "œSo the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy. So the Levites appointed...the singers Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, [who] were to sound the cymbals of bronze.... Obed-Edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah, to direct with harps on the Sheminith; a Chenaniah leader of the Levites, was an instructor in charge of the music, because he was skillful.... Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eleazar the priests were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God" (1 Chron. 15:14-17, 19, 21-22, 24).
Note that only the Levites were appointed to play the musical instruments. In fact, the use of specific musical instruments was restricted to certain groups of Levites. Later revelation reveals that these appointments were not arbitrary but based upon the commandment of God (2 Chron. 29:25). The use of musical instruments was done by divine appointment, by Levitical priests in connection with the ark of the covenant. The events were also accompanied by sacrifices and offerings. Since at this time in Israel´s history there was no functioning tabernacle or temple, the ark alone was the place of God´s special presence and thus the central place of sacrifice and burnt offering.61 Thus, the Levitical use of musical instruments was an aspect of ceremonial worship.
The Bible teaches that the introduction of musical instruments into the public worship of God was by divine appointment. "œThen he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, 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" (2 Chron. 29:25). Note, that the regulative principle of worship was strictly followed. Musical instruments were not used until God commanded their use. No one, not even kings, had the authority to introduce an innovation in worship without instructions from God to do so.
King David himself was a prophet and received detailed plans from God concerning the pattern of the temple and its worship. "œThen David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; and the plans for all that he had, he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things, also for the division of the priests and Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord.... "˜All this,´ said David, "˜the Lord made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans´" (1 Chron. 28:11-13, 19). The Holy Scripture emphasizes that David received the plans, divisions, and assignments relating to the temple by divine inspiration.62 Nothing relating to the temple and its worship originated in man´s imagination.
Whenever new worship practices were introduced, God made it very clear that He and not man was the source of the new additions. Thus, when additions were made under the administration of Moses, we are explicitly told that these additions came by way of divine inspiration (Ex. 25:9, 40; 27:8). The additions that came under the reign of King David also came by way of divine revelation.63 The system of temple worship set up by God during David´s reign receives no additions or alternatives until the death of Jesus Christ. The fact that new revelation was needed for the introduction of musical instruments into public worship is further proof that for thousands of years, from Adam to the latter part of David´s reign, true and acceptable worship was offered to God without the accompaniment of musical instruments.
In the old covenant musical instruments in public worship were always a function of the Levitical priesthood. Why? Because their use was intimately connected with the animal sacrifices. In fact, during the temple service the instruments of music were only played during the sacrifice. When the sacrifice was not in progress, they sang praise without the accompaniment of the musical instruments. "œThen he [King Hezekiah] stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, 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. The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel. So all the congregation worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished" (2 Chron. 29:25-28). When the sacrifice began, the use of musical instruments by the Levites began. When the offering was completed, the use of musical instruments also ceased.
Is it not obvious to the unbiased interpreter that the music served a ceremonial function?64 That it typified something regarding the perfect sacrifice to come?65 The ceremonial worship of the temple through audible and visible representations taught the people of God various things regarding the perfect redemption of their future Messiah. Thus the Holy Scripture says that the Levities were set apart to "œprophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals" (1 Chron. 25:1). G. I. Williamson writes: "œThe whole system of ceremonial worship served as a "˜shadow of heavenly things´ (Heb. 8:5). It was "˜a figure for the time then present´ (9:9), but a figure of something better in the future. In plain words, here the drama of the redemption was enacted symbolically. We use the word "˜drama´ because this Old Testament ceremonial worship was only a representation of the real redemption which was to be accomplished, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the precious blood of Christ. That is why this impressive assembly of musicians was needed. In a similar way, a motion picture is a pale thing in comparison with the reality depicted. That is why sound effects, and a musical background are so important! It helps His Old Testament people (as children under age, Galatians 4) sense something more in these animal sacrifices than was actually there. So, as the sacrifice was offered, the emotions of God´s people were stirred by this great cacophony of music."66
Since the New Testament teaches that all the ceremonial aspects of temple worship have been abolished, the passages that speak of the use of musical instruments in public worship, under the old covenant, do not provide biblical warrant for the use of musical instruments in public worship today. Jesus Christ rendered the whole ceremonial Levitical system obsolete with the perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross (cf. Heb. 7:27, 9:28). The inferior (Heb. 9:11-15), the shadow (Heb. 10:1; 8:4-5), the obsolete (Heb. 8:13), the symbolic (Heb. 9:9), and the ineffectual (Heb. 10:4) have been replaced by Jesus Christ and His work. Christians have no more business using musical instruments in public worship than using priestly vestments, candles, incense, altars, and a sacerdotal priesthood.67 Roman Catholics are simply being consistent when they incorporate all the abrogated "˜shadows´ into their system of worship. Girardeau writes: "œThose who have most urgently insisted upon it [musical instruments in public worship] have acted with logical consistency in importing priests into the New Testament church; and as priests suppose sacrifices, lo, the sacrifice of the Mass! Instrumental music may not seem to stand upon the same foot with that monstrous corruption, but the principle which underlies both is the same; and that whether we are content with a single instrument, the cornet, the bass-viol, the organ, or go on by a natural development to the orchestral art, the cathedral pomps, and all the spectacular magnificence of Rome. We are Christians, and we are untrue to Christ and to the Spirit of grace when we resort to the abrogated and forbidden ritual of the Jewish temple."68
Reformed Christians should note that even if these Old Testament passages did authorize the use of musical instruments in the new covenant era they would only authorize certain instruments and no others. Silver trumpets were specifically authorized by God in the days of Moses (Num. 10:1, 2, 10); and stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals (the instruments of David, 2 Chron. 29:26) were authorized for use under King David (1 Chron. 15:16; 23:5; 28:13, 19; 2 Chron. 29:25-27, etc.). Some scholars (based on passages such as 2 Samuel 6:5 and Psalm 150) also include the pipe or flute. The Bible indicates that the choice of these instruments and even their design was not arbitrary. The Levites had to use only those instruments chosen by God. Nowhere in the Bible can one find authorization for pianos, organs, violins, bass guitars, six-string guitars, drum sets, and so on. If one wants to infer from the Levitical use of stringed instruments that guitars, banjos, violins, and bass guitars are permitted in public worship, then he has a major problem. Why? Because the two stringed instruments that God authorized for public worship (the kinnôr and the nêbel) had ten (cf. Ps. 33:2; 92:3; 144:9) eight (according to the titles to Psalm 6 and 12), and possibly 12 (according to Josephus) strings, not four or six. Furthermore, modern basses and guitars bear no resemblance to these ancient instruments. If (as noted above) the instruments of David were introduced and designed under divine inspiration, then churches that claim to adhere to the regulative principle (that point to the Levitical use as justification for the use of instruments today) should make a serious attempt to reproduce these ancient instruments.69

All Old Testament Examples of the Use of Musical Instruments in Public Worship are Ceremonial

Those seeking a divine warrant for the use of musical instruments in public worship certainly cannot appeal to their Levitical, priestly, ceremonial use in the temple during the sacrifice as a justification for their use today. But, are there not instances of the use of musical instruments in public worship outside of the temple? Yes. A careful examination of the Old Testament reveals only five recorded instances of the lawful use of musical instruments in public worship outside of the temple:

The moving of the ark of God to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:14-28).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of Solomon´s temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of the foundation of the second temple (Ezra 3:10-11).
The dedication ceremony held at the completion of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:27-43).
The triumphal procession to Jerusalem and the temple after the Lord´s miraculous defeat of the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chron. 20:27-28).

These instances are the only scriptural hope for those who seek a scriptural warrant for musical instruments from the Old Testament.70 Can one find a non-ceremonial, non-Levitical use of musical instruments in these instances? No. There are a number of reasons why the use of musical instruments in these instances must be considered ceremonial. First, note that in each instance only the Levites were permitted to play the instruments (1 Chron. 15:16-24; 2 Chron. 5:12-13; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:35-36).71 Second, the priests and Levites only played instruments that were authorized by God: the silver trumpets of Moses and the instruments of David (1 Chron. 15:16, 28; 2 Chron. 5:12; 20:28; Ezra 3:10; Neh. 12:27, 36). Third, each instance was either connected with the ark, the temple, or the wall protecting the central sanctuary. The victory procession recorded in 2 Chronicles 20 ended at the temple (v. 28). The dedication ceremonies with the Levitical use of instruments never occurred outside of Jerusalem, the site of the temple"”the central place of sacrifice. Fourth, the dedication services involved sacrifices and burnt offerings (1 Chron. 16:1-2; 2 Chron. 7:1, 5-6; Neh. 12:43). In fact, the burnt offerings and peace offerings were the climaxes of these services. Furthermore all of these instances occurred in unique historical circumstances. They were extraordinary services involving the civil magistrate, the Levitical priesthood, the whole nation, and were all intimately tied to the temple cultus. These instances of the use of musical instruments in public worship are obviously ceremonial,72 and thus are of no use to those seeking warrant for pianos, organs and guitars.
The account of the use of musical instruments in the book of Ezra proves that godly Jews followed the regulative principle of worship. "œWhen the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel" (Ezra 3:10). Note that over 400 years after the death of King David the Spirit-inspired instructions that he gave regarding worship are still in force and strictly followed. Not only were the Levites using the same instruments ordered by God under David, but the Levitical family of Asaph was still in charge of using the cymbals (cf. 1 Chron. 15:19). Fensham writes: "œIn these verses the celebrations are described after the foundation had been laid. The leading role was played by the priests and Levites. The priests were clad in their typical vestments (cf. Ex. 28; 2 Chron. 5:12; 20:21) and they blew the trumpets. The Levites played on the cymbals (cf. Ps. 150:5), which consisted of two metal plates with which they gave the beat (cf. 2 Chron. 15:16, 19; 16:5; 25:1-6; 2 Chron. 7:6). According to the author this was done as David prescribed. He was at this stage regarded as the most important figure who initiated music in the cult."73 The account in Ezra is indisputable proof that the civil and religious leaders of the Jewish nation regarded the introduction of musical instruments into public worship as commanded by God and a permanent aspect of the temple system.

Synagogue Worship

If one wants to find a non-Levitical, non-ceremonial use of musical instruments in public worship, the most logical place to look would be the worship conducted in the synagogue. Why? Because unlike the temple worship, which contained much that was ceremonial, typical, and temporary, the worship of the synagogue was non-typical or symbolic. "œThe reading and exposition of the divine Word, hortatory, addresses the singing of psalms and the contribution of alms as elements of worship which cannot be regarded as types foreshadowing substantial realities to come. They belong to the class: essential and permanent."74 "œThe worship of the synagogue was very different from that of the Temple, in that it had no sacerdotal rituals and supported no sacrosanct priesthood."75 Since synagogue worship did not involve any of the ceremonial rituals of the temple, and since a study of the use of musical instruments in public worship in the Old Covenant shows that their use was ceremonial and Levitical, one would expect that synagogue worship would be practiced without the use of musical instruments. Indeed, that is exactly the case!76 The Jews did not use instruments in public worship but sang psalms a cappella because they regarded instrumental music in worship as belonging to the temple. "œIn his great work On the Ancient Synagogue, Vitringa shows that there were only two instruments of sound used in connection with the synagogue, and that these were employed, not in worship or along with it as an accompaniment, but as publishing signals"”first, for proclaiming the new year; secondly, for announcing the beginning of the Sabbath; thirdly, for publishing the sentence of excommunication; and fourthly, for heralding fasts. These were their sole uses. There were no sacrifices over which they were to be blown, as in the tabernacle and temple. And from the nature of the instruments it is plain that they could not have accompanied the voice in singing. They were only of two kinds"”trumpets (tubae), and rams´ horns or cornets (buccinae).... It had but one note, and was so easy to blow that a child could sound it. Further, they were, for the most part, used not even in connection with the synagogue buildings, but were blown from the roofs of houses, so as to be heard at a distance."77
Instrumental music was not introduced in synagogue worship until the nineteenth century.78 The argument used to introduce music into synagogue worship by the Jews supports the position that the use of music in public worship in the Bible is ceremonial. The Jews who introduced music in synagogue worship argued that music was played during the sacrifice in the temple. But since the temple has been destroyed (A.D. 70), God accepts the prayers of His people as a sacrifice, as atonement. Thus, in their minds, music should be in the house of prayer just as it accompanied the animal sacrifices. Although this argument is unscriptural and is based on human merit as a replacement for blood atonement, it at least recognizes the connection between instrumental music and the sacrificial cultus. The more strict Jews (the Orthodox) still do not use musical instruments in their worship because they recognize that it was restricted to the Levitical-temple system of worship.
The fact that the temple used musical instruments while the synagogues did not is significant, for the first Christian churches were closely patterned after the synagogue. "œThe most important legacy of the first century synagogue was the form and organization of the apostolic Church."79 In fact, with the large numbers of Jews who were saved and baptized in Jerusalem in the early days of the church, it is likely that some synagogues became Christian churches.80 "œThus, it comes as no surprise to find no musical instruments in the worship of the early Christian church. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the witness to this "˜rejection of all musical instruments is consistent among the Fathers.´"81 "œThe early Christians followed the example of the synagogue. When they celebrated the praise of God in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, their melody was the fruit of their lips."82

Musical Instruments and the Psalms

Most people who argue for the use of musical instruments in public worship today do not use the passages from the Chronicles for justification of their practice, but instead quote the references to musical instruments from the book of Psalms.83 The problem with this approach is that the Psalms often speak of the worship of Jehovah using ceremonial types. The Psalms speak of offering sacrifice (Ps. 20:3; 54:6; 107:22; 118:27), burnt offerings (Ps. 20:3; 50:8; 51:19; 66:13, 15), the altar (Ps. 26:6; 43:4; 51:19; 118:27), God´s house"”the temple (Ps. 101:2; 122:1). The Psalms speak of walking within God´s house (Ps. 101:2), of going into the house of Jehovah (Ps. 122:1), of worshipping toward God´s holy temple (Ps. 5:7; 138:8), and of inquiring in God´s temple (Ps. 27:4). Orthodox Christians do not use the passages in the psalms that speak of sacrifices and burnt offerings as proof texts for offering sacrifices in church because they know from other portions of Scripture that these duties belonged to the Levitical priesthood and were part of the ceremonial temple system that has been fulfilled and superseded by Christ. Likewise, the clear historical passages of Scripture that discuss the use of musical instruments in public worship teach that their use was ceremonial.84 Therefore, the Psalm passages that speak of music in public worship do not justify their use today. For if they did, the passages that speak of burnt offerings could be used to introduce animal sacrifices into today´s worship. Their "œargument from the Psalms proves too much and is therefore worthless."85 Girardeau writes: "œIf, now, the argument holds good, which is derived from the Psalms in support of the use of instruments in the public worship of the Christian church, it equally holds in justification of the offering of bloody sacrifices in that worship. The absurdity of the consequence completely refutes the argument."86 Their only hope would be to prove from the synagogue worship that instruments also had a non-ceremonial worship function or to find warrant for musical instruments in public worship in the New Testament. The synagogue worship (as noted above) did not involve any musical instruments at all. The New Testament does not authorize the use of musical instruments in Christian public worship.87 G. I. Williamson writes: "œThe fundamentalists speak of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, and thus take seriously the fact that this Old Testament worship was commanded by God. If we are going to revive ceremonial worship, in other words, then let us at least be careful to restore it exactly as it was commanded. Let us not pick and choose as we will. That the fundamentalist is mistaken, however, in expecting a restoration of that which is passed away is perfectly plain."88
The section of Scripture most often alluded to as a justification for the use of instruments in new covenant public worship is Psalm 150: "œPraise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instrument and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with high sounding cymbals!" (vv. 2-5). People who appeal to Psalm 150 as a justification for the use of musical instruments in new covenant worship violate a number of standard interpretive procedures. First, what did this Psalm mean to the original old covenant Jewish audience? Did the Jews use this Psalm and other such Psalms as a justification for the introduction of musical instruments in their synagogue worship? No. They most certainly did not. Jewish synagogues did not use musical instruments in praise until 1810.
Second, this scripture can only be used as a justification for new covenant worship if it is isolated from the rest of the Bible. Scripture must be used to interpret Scripture. The broad context of Scripture teaches that: dancing and taboret playing were performed outdoors during festive occasions by women (Ex. 15:20; Jud. 11:34; 21:21; 1 Sam. 18:6; 221:11; 29:5; Jer. 31:4); only priests were authorized to play trumpets in worship (Nu. 10:8,10; 2 Chron.5:11-14; 29:26: Ezra 3:10; and , harps, lyres and cymbals were only authorized to be played by Levites (1 Chron. 15:14-24, 23:5, 28:11-13, 19; 2 Chron. 5:11-14; 20:27-28; 29 ;25-27; Neh. 12:27, etc.).89 To completely ignore the Old Testament teaching regarding the use of instruments in worship when referring to Psalm 150 as a proof text for new covenant praise is sloppy exegesis and an illegitimate method of using a proof text.
Third, people who use this passage as authorization for musical instruments also ignore the immediate context. Is this passage meant to be taken literally? Or is it a poetic way of speaking of God´s people offering dedicated, fervent praise throughout the earth? If one takes this passage literally, then not only does it blatantly contradict the rest of the Old Testament´s teaching regarding musical instruments in worship, but it also teaches that every believer should play musical instruments during worship (an absurd notion). Furthermore, it would teach that the heathen and brute creatures also are to praise Jehovah. Regarding Psalm 150:3, Calvin writes: "œI do not insist upon the words in Hebrew signifying the musical instrument [in other words they may just be poetic metaphors exhorting believers to great praise]; only let the reader remember that sundry different kinds are here mentioned, which were in use under the legal economy, the more forcibly to teach the children of God that they cannot apply themselves too diligently to the praises of God."90
Given the fact that Psalm 150 incorporates the instrumentation of the temple, the taboret playing and dancing of victory celebrations as well as instruments only used upon secular occasions (e.g., v. 4: "œstringed instruments" [minnim] and "œflutes" ["˜ugabh]); coupled with the exhortation for everything that breathes to praise Jehovah it should be rather obvious that this Psalm was not meant to be used as a literal instruction guide for public worship. Psalm 150 is an exhortation expressed in poetic language which teaches that everyone in heaven and on earth should praise Jehovah with every fiber of his being. (Furthermore, as noted above, the Jews of the old dispensation did not regard Psalm 150 as authorizing the use of instruments in public worship outside of the Temple.)
Those who seek authorization for musical instruments in Psalm 150 should also take note of the word sanctuary in verse one: "œPraise God in His sanctuary." If one is going to use Psalm 150 as proof for the use of musical instruments in new covenant public worship, then one has an obligation to use all the specific instruments commanded and one must also use liturgical dance. Presbyterian pastors who appeal to this Psalm as authorization cannot (according to their own use of it) forbid taboret (tambourine) playing and dancing in the aisles during their worship services.
A biblical view of Psalm 150 is more readily found in the older Presbyterian and Reformed commentators. The Covenanter David Dickson writes of verse 3 through 5: "œHere are other six exhortations, teaching the manner of praising God under the shadow of typical music, appointed in the ceremonial law. Whence learn. 1. Albeit the typical ceremonies of musical instruments in God´s public worship, belonging to the pedagogy of the church, in her minority before Christ, be now abolished with the rest of the ceremonies; yet the moral duties shadowed forth by them, are still to be studied, because this duty of praising God, and praising him with all our mind, strength, and soul, is moral, whereunto we are perpetually obliged."91
Matthew Henry writes: "œIn what manner this tribute must be paid, with all the kinds of musical instruments that were then used in the temple-service, v. 3-5"¦. Our concern is to know"¦that, various instruments being used in praising God, it should be done with exact and perfect harmony; they must not hinder, but help one another. The New Testament concern, instead of this, is with one mind and one mouth to glorify God, Rom xv.6"¦. He began with a call to those who had a place in his sanctuary and were employed in the temple-service; but he concludes with a call to all the children of men, in prospect of the time when the Gentiles should be taken into the church, and in every place, as acceptably as at Jerusalem, this incense should be offered, Mal. i.2."92
The Reformed Baptist scholar John Gill writes: "œPraise him with the psaltery; to which songs were sung. And harp: which were instruments, both were used in divine worship under the former dispensation; and in which David was well skilled and delighted and appointed proper persons to praise with them, 1 Chron. xv. 20,21. They were typical of the spiritual melody made in the hearts of God´s people, while they were praising him in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, under the Gospel, Ephes. v.19."93

The New Testament and Musical Instruments

Thus far it has been noted that the use of musical instruments in Old Covenant public worship was Levitical and ceremonial. It was intimately connected with the tabernacle and temple. It was also noted that the public worship that occurred weekly in the Jewish synagogue occurred without musical accompaniment. The Jews until modern times considered the use of musical instruments to belong solely to the worship of the temple. Since the Bible explicitly teaches that every element of worship must have divine warrant, those who use musical instruments in public worship must find warrant in the New Testament. Does the New Testament authorize instrumental music in public worship? No. There is not a shred of evidence in the New Testament for the use of musical instruments.94 Their use is not commanded nor is there even one historical example of their use in the apostolic church. This should come as no surprise, given the fact that the new covenant church was closely patterned after the synagogue which did not use musical instruments, and the overwhelming Old Testament evidence that musical instruments served as ceremonial types.
Although the New Testament does not authorize the use of musical instruments in public worship, it is not silent regarding the worship of God. The author of Hebrews says: "œTherefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (13:15). "œAnimal sacrifices had been rendered forever obsolete by the sacrifice of Christ, but the sacrifice of thanksgiving might still be offered to God, and indeed should be offered to Him by all who appreciated the perfect sacrifice of Christ. No longer in association with animal sacrifices, but through Jesus. The sacrifice of praise was acceptable to God."95 Since Christians praise God through Christ and His perfect sacrifice and not with ceremonial types (e.g., incense, candles, musical instruments), they are to speak "œto one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19). "œThe Greek word for "˜make music´ is psallo, which means originally "˜to pluck the strings of an instrument.´ This gives a beautiful picture of what true and acceptable praise of God really is. Since the word psallo cannot be separated from the word "˜heart,´ it literally means "˜plucking the strings of your heart to the Lord.´ When the music of the heart is expressed through lips that confess the Lord´s name, there is no need for supporting instruments."96 "œThe Levitical rites required God´s earthly people to provide material offerings: but the Christian´s "˜sacrifices´ are entirely spiritual in their character."97 D. W. Collins writes: "œIt may be proper to remind the reader that the Apostle has shown the Hebrews that their ceremonial system has passed away, and that he incidentally refers in the ninth verse to the sacrifices offered at the altar, and affirms in the tenth verse that we have an altar in the present dispensation of which they have no right to partake, who cling to the ceremonial dispensation. As the bodies of beasts whose blood was used in the sanctuary or temple were burned without the camp, so Christ suffered without the gate"”turned His back upon the ceremonial service, as no longer profitable. The Hebrews are, therefore, exhorted to follow Him by forsaking the literal Jerusalem, with all its ceremonial associations"”going forth without the camp, bearing His reproach. No doubt this reproach, in the experience of a Hebrew, would be his forsaking the ritual, which was the pride of the Jews, and accepting the simple service of the gospel, which distinguished the followers of Jesus."98 All the types of the temple (the continual burning of incense, the sacrificing of animals, the playing of musical instruments during the sacrifice, etc.) have been put away by Christ"”the reality. Therefore, Christians pray and praise without the incense and musical instruments but with the lips alone.
The glory of the temple with its visible display and audible grandeur no doubt stimulated the senses and inspired awe, but now that Christ has come and instituted New Testament ordinances our focus is to be wholly upon Him"”the reality. The simple unadorned worship of the gospel era brings us into the presence of the greater temple"”Jesus Christ"”as we sing divine songs, hear the word of God, listen to the preaching, and feast spiritually upon Christ´s body. Putting shadows, incense, musical instruments, vestments, altars, etc., into new covenant worship merely serves to hide Christ and His glory under obsolete externalities. "œTo do so would be a grievous dishonour to the Lord Jesus, for it would indicate a greater appreciation of the type than of the glorious archetype, the Savior Himself."99
Some believers have attempted to find divine warrant for the use of musical instruments from the book of Revelation. The book does mention the use of harps (Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2) in heaven. The problem with this approach is that Revelation frequently uses Old Testament types and symbols to dramatically portray new covenant realities. John continually refers to Jesus Christ as "œthe lamb" (Rev. 5:6, 8, 12- 13; 6:1, 16; 7:9- 10, 14; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1, 4, 10, etc.). He refers to the Church as "œthe temple" (3:12; 11:1-2) and the "œNew Jerusalem" (3:12; 21:2, 10). John mentions the "œark of His covenant" (11:19) and even describes an altar (6:9; 8:3, 5; 9:13; 11:1; 14:18; 16:7). Is John speaking of a literal altar? No. Philip Hughes writes: "œFurthermore, when he says that he saw them under the altar [v. 9], this should not be taken to mean that there is a literal altar in the heavenly realm. The altar of sacrifice in the Mosaic system with its priesthood and offerings, pointed forward typologically to the altar of the cross, where Christ, both High Priest and Victim, offered Himself up for us sinners."100 The book of Revelation mentions incense (8:4), but John specifically says that the incense is symbolic of the prayers of the saints. John refers to the use of trumpets (1:10; 4:1; 8:13; 9:14), But in each instance the trumpets symbolize voices or announcements of judgment. "œJohn did not hear a literal trumpet, but the sound of a voice likened to the sound of a trumpet (4:1). Similarly, the music that John heard (14:2, Greek text) was not the sound of harps. It was the sound of human voices likened to harpers harping with their harps."101 As incense represented the prayers of God´s people, the harps represented the praise of the saints. "œThe very employment of these ceremonial symbols"”taken, as they are, from an abrogated system"”further confirms the fact that they are not any part of New Testament worship."102 Therefore, the book of Revelation no more authorizes the use of musical instruments in public worship than it does incense, altars, trumpets, or sacrificial temples. One cannot arbitrarily accept one without accepting the others also. Popery is at least consistent in accepting all the types.

Conclusion

An examination of God´s scriptural law of worship and the use of musical instruments in public worship in the Bible can lead to only one conclusion. The use of musical instruments in the public worship of God in the New Covenant era is without biblical authorization and is unscriptural. The biblical evidence that the use of musical instruments in public worship was Levitical, ceremonial, and typical is crystal clear and overwhelming. It is a tragedy that many Christians think they are worshipping God acceptably when they are engaging in worship practices that are not of divine appointment, which, therefore cannot please Jehovah. "œ[T]here is nothing which God, in His blessed word, defends with more exquisite jealousy than his worship; as there is nothing that he rebukes with more severity than the impertinent assumption of man to determine forms of worship for himself."103
This conclusion will not be acceptable to many in Reformed circles today. To such people we ask: please produce divine authorization for the use of musical instruments in public worship; show us even one command or historical example that is not ceremonial and typical. We are not prejudiced against musical instruments and their use at appropriate times; we simply cannot find a shred of biblical evidence that they are to be used in new covenant public worship.
Some will simply wrench a few references to musical instruments from the Psalms out of their biblical and historical context as a pretext, but most will attack the scriptural law of worship itself. They will either openly abandon it by relegating it to a former dispensation,104 or they simply redefine it, rendering it virtually useless to hold back human autonomy and innovations in worship. This attack is wicked Scripture-twisting, but logical for those in love with human traditions. Why? Because the regulative principle (biblically understood) is the foundation of true Reformed and Presbyterian worship. Abandon it, or redefine it, and declension is inevitable. Why? Because all men, even regenerate men, are sinners, who if left to themselves will eventually pollute and corrupt the worship of God. The history of Israel and the Christian church prove this point. "œThe great lesson taught by the history of image-worship and the reverencing of relics is the importance of adhering to the Word of God as the only rule of our faith and practice, receiving nothing as true religion but what the Bible teaches, and admitting nothing into divine worship which the Scriptures do not either sanction or enjoin."105
Others who object to the thesis of this book will claim that the use of musical instruments in public worship is a discretionary matter"”that is, it is just a mere "œcircumstance of worship common to human actions and societies."106 Such an assertion must ignore the whole Old Testament where it is clearly established that the use of instruments in worship was by divine authority. The use of musical instruments, their very design, and the various Levitical families who played them all were appointed by express commandment. This point is unquestionable. But, it is argued, could not the use of instruments be of divine appointment for the temple and be discretionary for the public worship in the synagogue and the Christian assemblies? No. The regulative principle was never limited to the temple (cf. footnote 104). Furthermore, something incidental to worship by nature is incidental or discretionary in all circumstances. The fact that the Jews in biblical times (indeed until 1810) regarded musical instruments as needing divine warrant for the synagogue should dispel the music-as-circumstance argument. "œIf, as some imagine, the apostles employed instruments of music in public worship, their instruments must have been buried along with them. They had a considerably protracted entombment, for they had no resurrection until at least seven or eight centuries afterwards. They did not reappear in Christian worship until the dark ages of Popery when, by unauthorized additions to the worship of the Church, men had greatly marred the divine beauty and simplicity of pure New Testament worship."107
Sadly, the bottom line is that we are living in a time of serious declension regarding worship and doctrine. Many people are not interested in reform. Too many church leaders are content to defend the status quo. (But, a non-reforming church is a deforming one.) When confronted with the biblical evidence regarding the use of musical instruments in the public worship (also, unauthorized holy days and exclusive psalmody) the response usually is: "œI don´t want to hear it. Who cares? That´s interesting but I love the sound of musical instruments in worship. This issue could be divisive, so just drop it". These answers reveal an unscriptural, anti-Reformed attitude. "œIs it not evident"”painfully evident"”that they are really arrogant words? "˜Who cares what God wants,´ such people say in effect: "˜So long as I have what I want! I am the important one!´ This is the very antithesis of true religion."108 Human traditions have the ability to pull the heart strings. That is why they are so dangerous to the purity of gospel worship. Our hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit would bring revival to His church and destroy these innovations, root and branch. It is not a time to be arrogant but to be humble, to pray, and to work for reformation. Let us return to the simple, unadorned worship of the apostolic church and our Calvinistic forefathers. May God have mercy on His Church and return it to the landmarks of the Reformation.
Brian Schwertley
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
The Psalms are to be sung without the accompaniment of instruments, which are not part of the New Testament pattern of worship. Musical instruments were commanded for use with the offering of sacrifices in the Old Testament temple worship. The death of Christ being the perfect and final sacrifice brought an end to this way of worship. There is neither command for nor example of the use of musical instruments in the words or practice of Christ and the apostles. The command of the New Testament is to offer the sacrifice of praise"”the fruit of our lips. "”Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (Chapter 21; section 6), The Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (1980).
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Hebrews 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.

18 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
The Psalms are to be sung without the accompaniment of instruments, which are not part of the New Testament pattern of worship. Musical instruments were commanded for use with the offering of sacrifices in the Old Testament temple worship. The death of Christ being the perfect and final sacrifice brought an end to this way of worship. There is neither command for nor example of the use of musical instruments in the words or practice of Christ and the apostles. The command of the New Testament is to offer the sacrifice of praise"”the fruit of our lips. "”Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (Chapter 21; section 6), The Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (1980).
This is not intended to be pejorative but this argument sounds no different than dispensationalists who require a positive re-statement of infant inclusion in the Covenant in the New Testament. It also seems very convenient for the person who wants to force EP on the basis of the RPW which is primarily founded upon OT texts that show how serious God is about prescribing how He is to be worshipped. If instruments in music can be argued away based on the argument of perfection of worship then why not EP in worship itself? It weakens the EP case in my estimation as the EP folks get to use "ceremonial" examples when it suits their case for no instrumental music but deny their abrogation when appealing to EP for consistency with the RPW.

I don't see how this even holds water as many of the Psalms had not been written during the given of the ceremonial law but were written centuries after. The commands to sing and praise with the voice, timbrel, harp, and lyre among others are not found in Leviticus but are even mixed in among Psalms that express a "New Covenant" hope. To place the "commands" of the Psalms in a ceremonial context is to say that the Psalms themselves are done away with in Christ. This the RPCNA does not do, of course, except the commands they want to claim are purely ceremonial. How covenient that they determine which parts of the Psalms are ceremonial and which are not.

Do you sing a capella those portions of the Psalms that command you to praise Him with stringed instrument?

How was the use of instruments "imperfect" since they were introduced along with the Psalms in many cases as David invented some of the instruments mentioned? This seems to be a strange argument from a Redemptive Historical standpoint that instruments didn't exist at an earlier point, are introduced well after the introduction of the ceremonial Law showing a Redemptive progression, but then are abrogated as part of the ceremonial Law.

Very strange.

[Edited on 4-11-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
We do not have a specific command in the NT doing away with each particular of the OT ceremonial worship. However, as Calvin said, "œIn a word, the musical instruments were in the same class as sacrifices, candelabra, lamps and similar things." John Calvin, Sermons on Second Samuel, Douglas Kelly, translator (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1992) 241.
As far as arguing "œfor" musical instruments as a circumstance or as something commanded see the brief articles below, one a later follow up of the former.
http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/psalm150.htm
http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/Psalm150Updated.htm
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
I disagree with both of the above comments. I think the argument made in regards to the Levitical order in the Book of Hebrews is a positive statement to the annulment of things Levitical in worship, including the instruments of David. It is not a "dispensational" argument, and to say such is a misunderstanding of the argument as a whole, not to mention simple name-calling. This topic, by the way, has been debated at much length on this board -- not to mention throughout Church history -- and there is an abundant amount of resources to which one could reference were they genuinely interested in understanding the historical/Biblical position espoused by the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith on the issue of the proper Worship of God Almighty.

In other words...

:deadhorse:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It was not my intent to name-call but to point out that the arguments are similar: "We don't see instrumental music re-commanded so it is forbidden...."

I see nothing, other than an assertion, that instruments are part and parcel of the ceremonial Law. Regarding Bacon's assertion that Psalm 150 shows that instrumental music is Levitical, he points to Psalm 150 for example. While the command to praise begins in the Sanctuary, the command moves outside the sanctuary to the heavens, to people praising him with tambourine and dancing (not done or commanded in the Sanctuary) and expands to a command for "...everything that has breath..." praising the Lord.

I asked before if you even sing these Psalms anymore. If you admit that whole portions of the Psalms are commands intended only for the Levitical priesthood and have no application for today's believers then it becomes an issue, in my estimation, of how suitable the Psalms themselves are for New Covenant worship. One could conclude, using Bacon's logic, that some Psalms are now "weak and beggarly" because, like Psalm 150, they are commands for the Levites. If Psalm 150, and those like it, speak of elements that have completely passed away then why is that Psalm still sung?

I asked in the other thread, for instance, why you don't sing the Song of Moses or the Song of the Bow (divinely inspired songs) and was informed that they spoke of specific acts in Redemptive History and was suitable for those events (even though the Song of Moses is much like at least one Psalm that recount God's redemptive rescue at the Red Sea).

If you accept Bacon's logic that Psalm 150 is completely ceremonial so that all the instruments mentioned are grouped under the category of "beggarly elements" then the entire Psalm category is beggarly and ought to be removed from the Psalter.

If you don't want to discuss the issue that is fine but I am not satisfied with a "...this is a dead horse...." It is not for me. If you feel like you've debated the issue to your satisfaction then that is fine but I have not engaged in any meaningful dialogue with an Exclusive Psalmody proponent and appealing to Puritans does not settle the issue.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by SemperFideles
It was not my intent to name-call but to point out that the arguments are similar: "We don't see instrumental music re-commanded so it is forbidden...."
Like I said... that is not the argument. It may not be namecalling, but it is, at the very least, a strawman.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Originally posted by SemperFideles
It was not my intent to name-call but to point out that the arguments are similar: "We don't see instrumental music re-commanded so it is forbidden...."
Like I said... that is not the argument. It may not be namecalling, but it is, at the very least, a strawman.
Perhaps but I don't dwell on it. The problem with your quote from the RPCNA blurb is that it begins like this:
The Psalms are to be sung without the accompaniment of instruments, which are not part of the New Testament pattern of worship.
I'm not basing my entire opposition on the fact that this sounds like those who argue in a similar fashion but the criticism ought to be considered as far as it goes. If this is not the primary argument then it should not be put forward as the first statement. You know very well that we don't normally look to get rid of things or add things based on a "New Testament pattern". I don't know how many times I've seen Presbyterians who would defend this RPCNA position tell Baptists that they cannot look at the paucity of commands for infant baptism as a basis to argue for credo-baptism because of an "New Testament pattern" of "believe and be baptized."

That was my only point. If the argument is founded upon a more substantive basis than an "NT pattern" then the statement ought to be sharpened.

[Edited on 4-12-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Rich,

This issue has been debated many times on the Puritan Board. It might be helpful to study the previous threads on this subject. It is good to keep an open mind as to what the Puritans (and large numbers of Christian groups, notably Southern Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Covenanters, the Westminster Assembly, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Wesley, and many more) have believed concerning the understanding of instrumental music as part of the abolished ceremonial worship.

Early Christians on instrumental music in public worship

Dabney and Girardeau on Instrumental Music in Public Worship

Breckinridge Against Musical Instruments in the Worship of God

Hislop on the Instrumental Music of Judaism

Johnson's Discourse on Instrumental Music in Public Worship

Blaikie on Instrumental Music in Public Worship

From Abraham Van de Velde's The Wonders of the Most High (A 125 Year History of the United Netherlands 1550-1675)

38 The Organ In The Worship Service And The Singing of Hymns

With one word, we judge this and other novelties in these
carefree days a useless hindrance. This we also say of the
introduction of new hymn-books, and present day ditties, which we do
not find in God's Word; as also the playing and peeping of organs in
the Worship service. The former are all against the decrees of our
Synods. See about singing in the Church, the National Synod of Dordt
held in 1578, art. 76; the National Synod held in Middelburg, 1581, art.
51; the National Synod held in the Hague, 1586, art. 62; at which
gatherings hymns not found in Scripture are expressly forbidden. In a
footnote, (those who would like to know more about singing of the
Psalms, from the Old as well the New Testament, can read the learned
treatise by S. Omius, called, 'Dissertation', the first book, chapter 5,
cap. 3.)

It is known from Church history, that those who are after
novelties by introducing man-made hymns and errors have corrupted
the Congregation. Although these people have no wrong motives, it is
nevertheless not advisable to follow in their steps, since we may
receive from them copper instead of gold as the pious Peter Martyr
witnessed about the time hymns were introduced into the Roman Church.

See Peter Martyr on 1 Cor. 14: 26. The words of lord van Aldegonde in
this respect are remarkable. In the introduction to his book of Psalms
he says, "The experience of earlier days has taught us that it is
often harmful to introduce something which is not based on the
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments."

The Synods of Dordt, 1578, art. 77; of Middelburg, 1581; of
Gelderland, 1640, art. 3, have all dealt with terminating, when
determining the place of the organ in the Church. The statement made
by the Synod of Dordt, 1574, art. 50, needs our special attention; we
read, "Concerning the use of Organs in the Congregation, we hold that
according to 1 Cor. 14: 19, it should not have a place in the Church;
and where it is still used when people leave the church, it is of no
use but to forget what was heard before".

They witness that it is nothing but frivolity. It is also
remarkable that lord Rivet, contending against the papists, mentions
several of their authors, who condemn the novelty of the Organ, and
point out that it is without profit. Rivet, Cathol. Orthodox. tom. 1,
pag. 561.

To know the reason why Organs should be kept out of the Church,
read our learned theologians and their polemics about Organs against
the Lutherans and Papists; see Faukee, about Psalm 45, pag. 20. Also
Lodoc. Larenus, in cap. 12 Esa, pag. 47, where we find the story of
the duty of Middelburg's consistory to do away with the Organ;
Hoornbeek disput.2, de Psalmodia. thes 7; Rivet, in Exod. cap.15 vs 12.
Imprimis Gisb. Voetii. Polit. Eccl. part. 1, pag. 548. Hospiniamus de
Templis, pag. 309. It would be better if this and other novelties were
not mentioned.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by SemperFideles
If Psalm 150, and those like it, speak of elements that have completely passed away then why is that Psalm still sung?
Because we are commanded to! :)

Just because there are ceremonial aspects in Revelation, should that stop a minister from reading those passages in public worship?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I guess my question was more intrinsic to the nature of the song. Many of the psalms were specifically commanded to be sung with instruments. They were designed by God to be sung that way. It would seem to run contrary to the divine intent of the psalm to sing them without instruments.

Andrew, do any of those articles deal with that specific aspect?
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by puritansailor
I guess my question was more intrinsic to the nature of the song. Many of the psalms were specifically commanded to be sung with instruments. They were designed by God to be sung that way. It would seem to run contrary to the divine intent of the psalm to sing them without instruments.

Andrew, do any of those articles deal with that specific aspect?
It would seem contrarty to divine intent to worship God without sacrifices as well, but Christ has died once for all.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
Originally posted by puritansailor
I guess my question was more intrinsic to the nature of the song. Many of the psalms were specifically commanded to be sung with instruments. They were designed by God to be sung that way. It would seem to run contrary to the divine intent of the psalm to sing them without instruments.

Andrew, do any of those articles deal with that specific aspect?
It would seem contrarty to divine intent to worship God without sacrifices as well, but Christ has died once for all.
But the practice of sacrifice was clarified. Song was not.
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Revelation 14:1--3

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne....


Selah.... :detective:

Robin
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Robin
Revelation 14:1--3

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne....


Selah.... :detective:

Robin
Robin, this verse does not support musical instruments. Clearly, the "sound of the harpist" is describing a characteristic of the voice John heard, not a reference to literal harps. It's a mixed metaphor just like the "roar of many waters" and "loud thunder" in the verse before, again describing a voice.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Originally posted by SemperFideles
If Psalm 150, and those like it, speak of elements that have completely passed away then why is that Psalm still sung?
Because we are commanded to! :)

Just because there are ceremonial aspects in Revelation, should that stop a minister from reading those passages in public worship?
But, like your assumption that certain portions of the Psalms are ceremonial, all I have from Paul is a general command to praise Him with Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. We can eliminate the ceremonial Psalms and still meet the command as the command does not say "...praise Him with all 150 Psalms...."

I agree with Patrick. Instruments are so intrinsic to certain Psalms that to sing them anymore would be like praying a ceremonial prayer if that's all they represented.

Also, Jeff, how can you seriously exegete Psalm 150 and state that the Psalm refers to worship solely within the sanctuary.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Rich,

This issue has been debated many times on the Puritan Board. It might be helpful to study the previous threads on this subject. It is good to keep an open mind as to what the Puritans (and large numbers of Christian groups, notably Southern Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, Covenanters, the Westminster Assembly, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Wesley, and many more) have believed concerning the understanding of instrumental music as part of the abolished ceremonial worship.
Always a sage warning. I owe many of those men very much. I am not close minded about the issue. I'm not always as thoroughgoing as some of the Puritans and Reformers were in some of the elements of worship. Perhaps I might be if I was reacting to the religion of their day. I sometimes think that some of the "Reforms" went a bit too far but I always study them and haven't ever really made up my mind.

To people who criticize EP folks as dour and Pharasaical, I defend them if their criticism is based on complete ignorance of the reasons. I'm not at a place where I would be an apologist for or argue for EP-only and that all else is "strange fire" but I wouldn't lose any sleep if the Church I attended was EP.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by SemperFideles
I agree with Patrick. Instruments are so intrinsic to certain Psalms that to sing them anymore would be like praying a ceremonial prayer if that's all they represented.
Just to clarify my position thus far, I wasn't arguing for musical instruments. I was just positing the question in light of the undeniable intent of the psalm. I'm still in limbo on this issue personally. If an adequate explanation is given, then I certainly will concede the point to my Accapella-only brethren.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by puritansailor
Originally posted by SemperFideles
I agree with Patrick. Instruments are so intrinsic to certain Psalms that to sing them anymore would be like praying a ceremonial prayer if that's all they represented.
Just to clarify my position thus far, I wasn't arguing for musical instruments. I was just positing the question in light of the undeniable intent of the psalm. I'm still in limbo on this issue personally. If an adequate explanation is given, then I certainly will concede the point to my Accapella-only brethren.
I appreciate your honesty in dealing with this issue. Many simply argue for whatever is their respective status quo (for most, this is arguing for hymns and instruments; for a Covenanter or other "strict" Presbyterian, this would be arguing against hymns and instruments); it is good to hear where people are on this issue, and that they are open to arguments from either side.

To clarify my own position: I have believed in unaccompanied exclusive psalmody for almost six years now. I have frequently argued the merits of both sides of the issues, and can honestly say that there has been very little to shake me in my belief that I have encountered in this time.

One problem that I have with that argument is that it seems to assume that, if a Psalm mentions a ceremony (sacrifices, altars, incense, priests, temples, musical instruments, etc.), then the Psalm itself is ceremonial. I would first challenge this assumption as I have stated it (or stated similarly, if you would prefer to employ your own language).

1. I do not find any biblical rationale for this assumption.

2. This does not simply oppose the practice of exclusive psalmody, or unaccompanied exclusive psalmody; it would oppose the practice of psalmody itself, because it attacks the idea of singing Psalms which make mention of Old Testament ceremonies.

3. It seems that it would attack the authority of the Old Testament in general, and not just the belief and practice of unaccompanied exclusive psalmody. If we are not to sing Psalms that contain mention of ceremonies, should they also not be read? If we should not read those Psalms, why should we read the portions of the Old Testament that likewise contain mention of ceremonies? What of the passages in the New Testament that contain ceremonial language, and not always to explain what that language meant in the Old Testament? And if we are not to read them, of what authority would those scriptures have in the church? Why should we regard them as the inspired Word of God, if they are to be done away with just as the ceremonies of old (Matt. 5:18, 24:35, etc.)?

This is, of course, taking it for granted that instruments and the other things mentioned above were ceremonial in their nature. I am simply making the point that this line of argument is illegitimate, without addressing the more basic question of whether the instruments themselves were ceremonial (which I will probably address at a later time).
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by puritansailor
I guess my question was more intrinsic to the nature of the song. Many of the psalms were specifically commanded to be sung with instruments. They were designed by God to be sung that way. It would seem to run contrary to the divine intent of the psalm to sing them without instruments.

Andrew, do any of those articles deal with that specific aspect?
Most, if not all, of the articles I cited make the point that instruments were used with the psalms in temple worship but not in synagogue worship, and then go on to point out that Christian worship follows the synagogue model. Thus, instruments are not intrinsic to the psalms.

See Girardeau (citing Calvin and others) and Johnson (citing Thomas Goodwin) in particular on this point.

Simply put, the idea that the psalms are so closely tied to the instruments named in them that instruments must be used (can be used is not an option for those who adhere to the RPW) is an argument that proves too much. If true, it only proves that those specific instruments are valid. The use of instruments is also conjoined with dance (notably in Psalm 150) -- shall we then dance in worship as well (rhetorical question)? When we sing in the psalms of "paying vows" and "offering sacrifices," is there not a spiritual, Christian sense in which we take those words on our lips? John Brown's notes on the Psalter are helpful in discerning that spiritual, Christian sense over and above the carnal, Jewish sense that is strictly literal.

See Matthew Henry on Ps. 150:

III. In what manner this tribute must be paid, with all the kinds of musical instruments that were then used in the temple-service, v. 3-5. It is well that we are not concerned to enquire what sort of instruments these were; it is enough that they were well known then. Our concern is to know, 1. That hereby is intimated how full the psalmist's heart was of the praises of God and how desirous he was that this good work might go on. 2. That in serving God we should spare no cost nor pains. 3. That the best music in God's ears is devout and pious affections, non musica chordula, sed cor--not a melodious string, but a melodious heart. Praise God with a strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with an entire confidence in Christ; praise him with a believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him with an earnest desire towards him and a full satisfaction in him; praise him by a universal respect to all his commands; praise him by a cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love and solacing yourselves in his great goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by a lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. 4. That, various instruments being used in praising God, it should yet be done with an exact and perfect harmony; they must not hinder, but help one another. The New-Testament concert, instead of this, is with one mind and one mouth to glorify God, Rom. xv. 6.
It [the "instrinsic" argument] overlooks the historical reality that instruments were not used in synagogue worship or in Christian worship, without detriment to the praise of God (there are many examples of psalms being sung or commanded to be sung in the New Testament but not one example or command of an instrument being played; on the contrary, the command is to make melody in your heart). The Psalter has been used all around the world a cappella and is not tied to the specific instruments named therein. One can praise God using the word of God without musical instruments. In fact, that is exactly what we are called to do. The duty to sing psalms is clear in the NT, but no command to use instruments exists in the NT. Thus, what is instrinsic to the psalm is not the instruments but the words and their spiritual meaning.

Robert Nevin says in Instrumental Music in Christian Worship (1873):

INSTRUMENTS "EMBEDDED" IN THE PSALMS.

Musical instruments, we are told, are so embedded in the Book of Psalms that you cannot tear them out, without discarding the Book as the proper expression of our praise. To be consistent, it is broadly stated, we must fling away the Psalter, if we disallow instruments; and we are asked on what principle we can retain the former, if we do not admit the latter. On this we remark"”1. The argument is a mere theoretical one, got up to serve a polemical exigency. The proof of this is plain, for the general practice of Instrumentalists is in diametric opposition to it. The theory of the argument is"”Bring in the instruments, in order that you may consistently retain the Psalter. The general practice of Instrumentalists is"”Bring in the instruments by all means, underhand or aboveboard, and get rid of the inspired Psalms, wholly or partially, as quietly and as speedily as you can. 2. The argument, if worth anything, would make the use of instruments not optional but obligatory, for the reference to them in the Psalms takes the form of a command. 3. Musical instruments are no more embedded in the Psalms than an altar"”Ps 26:6; Ps 43:4; Ps 118:27; sacrifices of fat rams, bullocks, and goats, and incense"”Ps 66:15; and dancing"”Ps 149:3; Ps 150:4. All these, moreover, are alike obligatory, if this argument be true. On what principle can any difference be made among them? 4. The principle (principles rather) on which we deal with all these is easily told. It is surprising that anyone of ordinary intelligence in any degree acquainted with the subject should need to ask what it is. The Psalms were composed in language adapted to the institutions of worship existing by Divine prescription at the time, although, when this is taken into account the allusions in them to ceremonial observances are remarkably few, and we might almost say in some instances depreciatory. We have apostolic precept and example for singing the inspired Psalms in worship. We have no apostolic precept or example for singing anything else. Neither have we for dancing, offering animal sacrifices, burning incense, or performing on musical instruments, in worship. The figures of the Old Dispensation, being of Divine prescription, were the most appropriate possible. Poetical genius in its highest efforts could never have conceived anything to compare with them, and must now be content to borrow them. We have these figures still (be not startled, gentle reader) with this difference"”to the Jew they were figures to be acted out really and in the letter, while he could only dimly perceive their meaning; to us they are simply figures of speech, the glorious significance of which is seen in the light shed on them by Gospel revealings. If, because these figures are embedded in the Psalms, we must discard the use of the whole Book, then, for a like reason, we must discard Paul's epistle to the Hebrews, nay, we might say, the whole New Testament. And if this be the "strongest argument" of the Instrumentalists, as it is so exhibited by one of themselves, their cause is hopelessly and irremediably lost.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Just thinking out loud here. Would the Accapella-only folks then argue that all those Psalms (which command musical instruments) were only used in the temple?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by puritansailor
Thanks Andrew. More food for thought... :detective:
You're welcome, Patrick. :handshake:

Originally posted by puritansailor
Just thinking out loud here. Would the Accapella-only folks then argue that all those Psalms (which command musical instruments) were only used in the temple?
I believe there are around 20 or so psalms that make reference to musical instruments. Only the Levitical priests were appointed to serve as musicians in public worship. The psalms were composed on various occasions by various persons (some Levitical priests were named specifically) and when reference is made to instruments, it is understood that Temple worship is in view.

Psalm 137.2 is interesting in that it makes references to the Levitical harps used formerly in worship but laid aside during the Babylonian diaspora. The psalm itself, of course, was sung without harps.

However, there is no legitimate reason that I can think of to suppose that those 20 or so psalms were not sung in synagogues or should not be sung today. Many psalms speak of sacrifices which could only be offered in the Temple -- were they sung only in the Temple and not in synagogues or family worship, and should they not be sung today? If that is the case, probably only a few psalms could be sung outside the Temple. I think that is an unreasonable and unwarranted supposition.

On the contrary, instruments, incense, altars, offerings, etc. were understand dimly even in the Jewish era to have a deeper spiritual meaning that was not tied to the Temple, though the literal activities and objects mentioned were; in the Christian era, we make use of those allusions in our praise songs (compare Ps. 4.5 [the title of which indicates instrumental accompaniment] or Ps. 27.6 with Heb. 13.15) by the commandment of the Lord (Eph. 5.19; Col. 3.16; James 5.13) and in doing so apprehend that they point to Christ in whom all ceremonies, sacrifices and offerings are fulfilled. The instruments were used in Temple worship but point symbolically to Christ, and that means that the psalms are tied to Christ not the instruments, and thus allusions to instruments and other ceremonial aspects of worship are perfectly consistent and suitable for Christian worship.
 
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