We Ought To Sing The Psalms - Thread 1: Because They Are The Inspired Word Of God

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Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Greetings,

This is hopefully the first in a series of threads I would like to create, each of which is meant to discuss a different reason why we ought to sing the Psalms in corporate and family worship.

Let me start by saying that this is not to discuss if we are commanded to sing the Psalms or not; rather, I would like to discuss the strengths of singing the Psalms.

My desire is to grow in my understanding of the many reasons why Psalm singing is a beneficial practice, as well as to be able to communicate these things effectively to others. Hence only doing one point at a time.

Without further ado:

1. We should sing the Psalms corporately and in our families because they are the inspired Word of God.

How can I expand on this point?

Why is this to be preferred over uninspired hymns?

&c.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Being the inspired Word of God, they share all of its qualities. Singing forces meditation on the inspired Word of God and all the benefits of meditation on the inspired Word of God are thereby had.

For example,

-They are unable to err--infallible, and therefore, they do not err. This is an advantage in and of itself, but especially in song, since songs have a tendency to stick in our minds; it is beneficial to not have error getting stuck in one's head.

-Being songs, they then allow the inspired Word of God to float around in one's head as one goes about one's business, aiding the meditation on God's word day and night.

-They are useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness. They are sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing bones and marrow. They search the heart and try the reins. Things merely founded on the Word of God do not retain this as a quality in and of themselves.

-The have the divine marks of Scriptures. The majesty of the style. The consent of all the parts. The ability to build up saints and convince and convert sinners. Their purity. The scope of the whole--which is to give all glory to God. Materials of mere human composure do not have these and some will especially stray on the last part: having a man-centered instead of God-centered perspective.

-They are God's own words and thoughts about himself, man, and the world. We are singing God's own thoughts and theology back to himself. By doing such, we gain a God-centeredness floating around in our minds, which aids in the renewing and transformation of our minds, instead of conforming to the world. And aids in reminding sinners of their humble place while keeping the Lord highly exalted where he is. And aids in searching and trying the sinners who sing them, instead of covering up or flattering themselves.

-As God's own words, they are dear to the Christian who is in covenant relationship with the Lord that the words of mere human composure cannot match.

-As God's own words, the Christian can sing of things that one ought to fear writing about in a hymn of mere human composure, e.g., God's judgment on his enemies or the honest complaint and plea of the Christian under trial. God's judgment is to be praised, but how to find the words to sing of it? God's words provide them.

-Being God's words, they contain a perfection, completeness, and sufficiency in his praise that words of mere human composure cannot achieve.

-Singing Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost allows one to be filled with the Spirit. Singing Scripture inspired by the Spirit of Christ allows one to have the word of Christ dwelling in them richly.

-Being words of God's own composure, singing his songs honors him. It is an honor to a person to sing his songs for some great thing. It is then an honoring and worshipping of God to choose the songs he wrote for the great thing of singing God's praise.

-Being God's words, they cause the singer to in a sense bow down to them as they humbly receive their Lord's instructions and bow to his will.
 
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Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Being the inspired Word of God, they share all of its qualities. Singing forces meditation on the inspired Word of God and all the benefits of meditation on the inspired Word of God are thereby had.

For example,

-They are unable to err--infallible, and therefore, they do not err. This is an advantage in and of itself, but especially in song, since songs have a tendency to stick in our minds; it is beneficial to not have error getting stuck in one's head.

-Being songs, they then allow the inspired Word of God to float around in one's head as one goes about one's business, aiding the meditation on God's word day and night.

-They are useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness. They are sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing bones and marrow. They search the heart and try the reins. Things merely founded on the Word of God do not retain this as a quality in and of themselves.

-The have the divine marks of Scriptures. The majesty of the style. The consent of all the parts. The ability to build up saints and convince and convert sinners. Their purity. The scope of the whole--which is to give all glory to God. Materials of mere human composure do not have these and some will especially stray on the last part: having a man-centered instead of God-centered perspective.

-They are God's own words and thoughts about himself, man, and the world. We are singing God's own thoughts and theology back to himself. By doing such, we gain a God-centeredness floating around in our minds, which aids in the renewing and transformation of our minds, instead of conforming to the world. And aids in reminding sinners of their humble place while keeping the Lord highly exalted where he is. And aids in searching and trying the sinners who sing them, instead of covering up or flattering themselves.

-As God's own words, they are dear to the Christian who is in covenant relationship with the Lord that the words of mere human composure cannot match.

-As God's own words, the Christian can sing of things that one ought to fear writing about in a hymn of mere human composure, e.g., God's judgment on his enemies or the honest complaint and plea of the Christian under trial. God's judgment is to be praised, but how to find the words to sing of it? God's words provide them.

-Being God's words, they contain a perfection, completeness, and sufficiency in his praise that words of mere human composure cannot achieve.

-Singing Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost allows one to be filled with the Spirit. Singing Scripture inspired by the Spirit of Christ allows one to have the word of Christ dwelling in them richly.

-Being words of God's own composure, singing his songs honors him. It is an honor to a person to sing his songs for some great thing. It is then an honoring and worshipping of God to choose the songs he wrote for the great thing of singing God's praise.

-Being God's words, they cause the singer to in a sense bow down to them as they humbly receive their Lord's instructions and bow to his will.
Thank you for that multifaceted answer. I will read over it in-depth at my next opportunity, and respond to some of your statements. Very good.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Being the inspired Word of God, they share all of its qualities. Singing forces meditation on the inspired Word of God and all the benefits of meditation on the inspired Word of God are thereby had.

For example,

-They are unable to err--infallible, and therefore, they do not err. This is an advantage in and of itself, but especially in song, since songs have a tendency to stick in our minds; it is beneficial to not have error getting stuck in one's head.

-Being songs, they then allow the inspired Word of God to float around in one's head as one goes about one's business, aiding the meditation on God's word day and night.

-They are useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness. They are sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing bones and marrow. They search the heart and try the reins. Things merely founded on the Word of God do not retain this as a quality in and of themselves.

-The have the divine marks of Scriptures. The majesty of the style. The consent of all the parts. The ability to build up saints and convince and convert sinners. Their purity. The scope of the whole--which is to give all glory to God. Materials of mere human composure do not have these and some will especially stray on the last part: having a man-centered instead of God-centered perspective.

-They are God's own words and thoughts about himself, man, and the world. We are singing God's own thoughts and theology back to himself. By doing such, we gain a God-centeredness floating around in our minds, which aids in the renewing and transformation of our minds, instead of conforming to the world. And aids in reminding sinners of their humble place while keeping the Lord highly exalted where he is. And aids in searching and trying the sinners who sing them, instead of covering up or flattering themselves.

-As God's own words, they are dear to the Christian who is in covenant relationship with the Lord that the words of mere human composure cannot match.

-As God's own words, the Christian can sing of things that one ought to fear writing about in a hymn of mere human composure, e.g., God's judgment on his enemies or the honest complaint and plea of the Christian under trial. God's judgment is to be praised, but how to find the words to sing of it? God's words provide them.

-Being God's words, they contain a perfection, completeness, and sufficiency in his praise that words of mere human composure cannot achieve.

-Singing Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost allows one to be filled with the Spirit. Singing Scripture inspired by the Spirit of Christ allows one to have the word of Christ dwelling in them richly.

-Being words of God's own composure, singing his songs honors him. It is an honor to a person to sing his songs for some great thing. It is then an honoring and worshipping of God to choose the songs he wrote for the great thing of singing God's praise.

-Being God's words, they cause the singer to in a sense bow down to them as they humbly receive their Lord's instructions and bow to his will.
So, one could apply to the Psalter any of the reasons why the Scriptures in general are to be favoured over uninspired writings.

In this context, how would you answer the objection that, if written carefully, hymns aren't deficient for worship even though they aren't inspired?

To say it a different way, if someone looks at hymns and sees them as faithful to the truth, and written so as to glorify God and build up the Church, why does their uninspired-ness still fall short in those areas?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Moderating: If you want to discuss merits or demerits of exclusive psalmody over what I thought was to be a thread about simply the need to sing the psalms, this will need to be moved to the EP subforum rather than be in the general worship forum.
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
I think that Ramon has presented several reasons succinctly and persuavily. I would also add that Christ is the very substance and centrality of all the Psalms, and when we sing them in public or in family He is magnified, and thus the Father is glorified. Luke 24:44. Also Christ is the Author, Composer, the Substance and Content, and “The sweet Psalmist of Israel,” which makes them infinitely superior to sing than man made productions. And as such they are free from error and exaggeration.
He is also the leader or choirmaster of the Psalms and joins us in the “midst of the great congregation I will sing praise to thee,” and sings His praise to the Father through His Union with with His spiritual body, the Church. Because the Psalms are the inspired word of God, authored by the Word of God, then we are singing the incorruptible word which is able to save our souls, and thus evangelises those unconverted in the Church or in the family worship. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” and that is stated in the context of singing the Psalms.
They are another agency of teaching that is used by the Holy Spirit, especially of the young who quickly memorise the metered singing. “Teaching and admonishing one and other in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” By singing them in the family they leaven the members with a sense of spiritual closeness, holy satisfaction and the sanctifying purpose of the truth. May the Lord help you in the study and practice of singing from His hymnbook.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Moderating: If you want to discuss merits or demerits of exclusive psalmody over what I thought was to be a thread about simply the need to sing the psalms, this will need to be moved to the EP subforum rather than be in the general worship forum.

My mistake; I didn't realize I was going that route. In the end, my desire is to bring to the leadership of my church well thought out reasons why we, even though not EP, should sing the Psalms nonetheless.

That will involve a number of reasons why the Psalms are better to use than hymns. Perhaps this is a gray area, but I didn't think it was EP-subforum worthy.

-------

The responses given thus far have been great, thank you gentlemen. I think there is enough there for me to ponder and pray about for some time.

The other points I had in mind for following threads may have more room for discussion than this one.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Because they show us Christ.

“The Psalter reveals such a clear portrait of Christ and His work that any suggestion that they are inadequate in their exposition of Christ’s work shows a lack of understanding regarding their content. The Psalms teach Christ’s divinity (Ps. 45:6; 110:1), His eternal sonship (Ps. 2:7), His incarnation (Ps. 8:5; 40:7-9), His mediatorial offices as Prophet (Ps. 40:9-10), Priest (Ps. 110:4), and King (Ps. 2:7-12; 22:28; 45:6; 72; 110:1). The Psalms give us Spirit-inspired details regarding Christ’s betrayal (Ps. 41:9), His agony in the garden (Ps. 22:2); His trial (Ps. 35:11), His rejection (Ps. 22:6; 118:22), His crucifixion (Ps. 22; 69), His burial and resurrection (Ps. 16:9-11), His ascension (Ps. 24:7-10; 47:5; 68:18), and His second coming and judgment (Ps. 50:3-4; 98:6-9). They also tell us of the victory of Christ’s kingdom (Ps. 2:6-12; 45:6 ff.). Some Psalms reveal so much vital information regarding Christ’s person and work that they are called messianic Psalms (Ps. 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 69, 72, 110).” (Schwertley, Exclusive Psalmody, Pg.19)
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
To say it a different way, if someone looks at hymns and sees them as faithful to the truth, and written so as to glorify God and build up the Church, why does their uninspired-ness still fall short in those areas?
Interpreting the question as an objection to singing psalms at all (so as to not get into questions of exclusively singing the psalms), this is the same objection one could raise concerning expositions or devotional commentaries on the Scriptures: if we have them, then why read the Scriptures in the public worship? How do expositions or devotional commentaries or even preaching, in their uninspired-ness, fall short of the qualities of Scripture?

The Christian will find it near blasphemous to equate uninspired writings, however good they may be or however true to the Scriptures they may be, with the inspired writings of the Scriptures. However, a question arises as to: Why? In what specific way do uninspired writings fall short of inspired Scriptures? And the short answer is: all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our best deeds will have sin mixed in them. Our best songs intending to glorify God in a majestic and pure way will always be mixed with some impurity: including impurity of vision and perspective on the various matters that concern worship song. This is why the marks of Scripture show it to be the inspired word of God, and why they do not show any other human writing to be the inspired word of God.

We can then go into specific details as to how this sinful mixture can never reach the inspired Scriptures. As part of that, it will be noted that the word preached, being in accord with the Scriptures, is as much the word of God as the word written. I believe our Reformed fathers have written something about how to distinguish these things, but I do not recall the exact terminology (perhaps someone else here can help in posting how things founded on the word of God are inferior to the inspired word of God itself). What can be said is that the word preached is the word of God in a derivative, not original, sense. So I could go back through all the qualities of the Scriptures in general that I mentioned and note how it is an advantage and superior to have the word of God in an original sense--even though it is given by translation into English (faithful translations will convey the original languages into the target so that one may be assured the Word of God will dwell in them richly from absorbing the translation)--and so how the inspired Scriptures are superior to uninspired compositions. Although it should be noted that some of the points I made in my first post are uniquely specific to the inspired Scriptures that uninspired compositions cannot even imitate.

Consider also James Bannerman and Hugh Martin (http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/the-singing-of-psalms.php):

"The divine fulness of thought and truth found in Scripture distinguishes it in a marked manner from other books. I refer to those truths which are contained in Scripture, implicitly rather than by express or formal assertion, and which are found underlying the words rather than exhibited on the surface of them. There are divine ideas and truths underlying the surface of Scripture language, and really contained in its statements, which are not expressly or directly stated; but which are a part of the mind of God as much as any that are formally and articulately uttered. Scripture inferences, rightly drawn from Scripture, are as much a part of revelation as its express letter. What is contained in the Word of God under the form of implied truth, is, no less than the words themselves, a fruit of inspired wisdom. Nothing else could be expected when the mind of the Infinite Intelligence was embodied in human language. Beneath and within the letter of such a revelation, there is a length and breadth, and height and depth of divine wisdom inexhaustible, looking out upon us from its words with a fulness which the words cannot contain. Far under the surface of its language there is a well of truth springing up unto everlasting life; and it needs but that we should draw from its depths, to learn that it is divine and unfathomable."

Hugh Martin

"For the Spirit enters into his own Word. He expresses himself by means of it. He can do so without compromise of his own mind, or constraint upon his own thoughts or feelings, because it is his own Word. It expresses what the Spirit of Christ doth 'signify' (I Pet. 1:11). It does full justice to his meaning. He will not disown it, therefore. And it will not dishonour him. He and his own utterances - the Spirit and the Word - are wholly consentient. Their living coalescence, therefore, is possible. And it is guaranteed. Their divulsion is, in fact, inconceivable. And the Word is thus quick and powerful by the Spirit. The Spirit is intelligible by the Word."
 
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Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Thank you, again.

This truth alone makes me want to sing Psalms over hymns.

The fact that the Psalms show us Christ in the way they do seems to not be widely known in many circles. I know I myself have a lot to learn.

I think that is why the Psalms can be under appreciated by so many, and why Christ-centred hymns are thought of as the remedy; they don't realize that Christ is indeed there to be seen.
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
The OP reads, "...because they are the inspired Word of God" There is a practical truth often lost in this discussion that I have found most helpful in my own practice. When I am worshipping the Lord, either privately, or publicly, I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth. If we consider our singing as a part of the New Testament offerings we offer, (Hebrews 13.15) then what comes out of our mouths must be true. I am sure that none of us desire to sing to the Lord some lyric that contains some kind of theological error, or moral impropriety. So for those who sing uninspired words, there is an implicit requirement to judge the propriety of what is sung. But the beauty of singing from the Psalter is that this judgment is not required by us--these are the inspired Words of God, and so rather than us judging them, they judge us instead. See 1 Corinthians 14.24-25: If all prophesy, and corporate Psalm singing is a species of prophesying, then all are being judged by the Word of God, rather than sitting in judgment upon that which is sung. Truly in this regard Psalm singing is a humbling and wonderful practice.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
The OP reads, "...because they are the inspired Word of God" There is a practical truth often lost in this discussion that I have found most helpful in my own practice. When I am worshipping the Lord, either privately, or publicly, I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth. If we consider our singing as a part of the New Testament offerings we offer, (Hebrews 13.15) then what comes out of our mouths must be true. I am sure that none of us desire to sing to the Lord some lyric that contains some kind of theological error, or moral impropriety. So for those who sing uninspired words, there is an implicit requirement to judge the propriety of what is sung. But the beauty of singing from the Psalter is that this judgment is not required by us--these are the inspired Words of God, and so rather than us judging them, they judge us instead. See 1 Corinthians 14.24-25: If all prophesy, and corporate Psalm singing is a species of prophesying, then all are being judged by the Word of God, rather than sitting in judgment upon that which is sung. Truly in this regard Psalm singing is a humbling and wonderful practice.
I had not thought of that aspect before. Indeed, very wonderful.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
The Psalms being the Word of God is an argument that proves itself, and wins the heart to sing them. You can sing and meditate on these and expect God to bless them and sanctify them to you, just as He promises to do with His Word. They cannot return void.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
As far as I know there is no congregation remotely near me that engages EP. In my church we use the Trinity Hymnal and many of the 'songs' we sing are based on a Psalm. Of course many are not.

When I began attending the OPC, coming from a SBC congregation, I knew nothing of the debate concerning 'Hymns, Psalms, and spiritual songs.' At first when a couple of members of my congregation lamented the fact that 'we' were not EP I was incredulous, having never heard that suggested, I felt it a ridiculous argument.

I said I love the hymns of Charles Wesley and Issac Watts, among many others. One fellow pointed out to me that our Lord sung the Psalms and that did make a big impression on me.

As I began to follow the debate between 'inspired' versus uninspired my opinion began to change. I've come to the place that when the Pastor says, "Please turn with me in your hymnal to hymn number .....", I feel a bit disappointed if the hymn is not notated to be from Psalm # .... The thought that it is uninspired now always crosses my mind.

I would not leave my OPC church family for another congregation over this, and with the new Psalter/Hymnal it is obvious that the OPC is continuing to mix the uninspired with the inspired, but I would be happy if they, as a body, went EP.
 
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