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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Over a dozen reasons why the argument for Exclusive Psalmody doesn't stand up, Part 2

Here is a second reason why the arguments for exclusive psalmody do not stand up:
2. Old Testament and New Testament saints 
did not live by this exclusive psalmist rule. 
If there is a Scriptural requirement to sing inspired praise you would expect to find examples of this among the saints of God in the Scriptures and none to the contrary. However, the opposite is the case. Instead of the saints of God singing inspired praise from the Psalter we find them composing their own items of praise, using different portions of the Old Testament, and following no set form from the Psalter. Saints from both Old and New Testament dispensations are found to have composed their own items of praise. 

As is very obvious to observe the 150 Psalms of the Psalter existed long before the canon of Scripture was closed. If the 150 Psalms of the Psalter are to be the hymnbook of the Church then why does Habakkuk, Elisabeth, Mary, Zacharias & Simeon, to name some Scriptural examples, all compose their own items of praise, and in a number of cases long after the completion of the book of Psalms? 

Habakkuk penned his own prayer or psalm in ch 3 of his prophecy. This prayer or Psalm was set to a tune and was to be played on a stringed instrument, cf v19: The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. He sent his newly composed item of praise to the chief singer to be kept for future use. 

If the Psalter was a complete compendium of praise then why did Habakkuk not employ an existing composition of inspired praise? 

The same points could be made with respect to: 
i. Elisabeth in her song of thanksgiving recorded in Luke 1:42-45: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord;

ii. Mary in her song of praise, sometimes known as 'the Magnificat', in Luke 1:46-55: My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever;

iii. Zacharias, sometimes known as 'the Benedictus', in his song in Luke 1:67-79: And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace

iv. Simeon, sometimes known as 'the Nunc Dimittis', in his song in Luke 2:28-32: Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Why did none of these believers use the Psalter to praise the Lord on these occasions if that was the requirement and these 150 Psalms are sufficient to praise the Lord with? These examples prove the point that the saints in both Old Testament & New Testament times did not live by this exclusive psalmist rule. 

These facts therefore, would beg a series of questions: When did this command to sing inspired praise come into force? Are we to understand that this command was always in existence from the beginning of time or did the Lord give this commandment at all to Old Testament saints? Was the command in Ephesians 5;19; Colossians 3:16, as interpreted by exclusive psalmists, the first time this type of requirement was placed upon believers? Did this command only begin with the close of the canon of Scripture? If it was earlier than this then where is the Old Testament command to sing only inspired praise?

Furthermore, what was the rule prior to the book of Psalms coming into existence? At least one of the Psalms, and possibly more, was penned by Moses. Did the saints before the completion of the Psalter sing their own composition or sing only Moses' psalms? 

What about the days prior to Moses? What did Abraham sing? Abraham did rejoice to see Christ's day, John 8:56. It is highly unlikely that he did not sing. When did the rule come into play that only 'inspired' praise was to be offered to God? 

Up until the time of the writing of the New Testament books there was evidently no such command in existence. 

No such command could ever exist.  The Lord commanded Israel to be taught a song in perpetuity that is not in the 150 Psalms of David. We have the command to sing this song in Deuteronomy 31:19-22: Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. The contents of that song are given in Deuteronomy 32:1-43.

These points do not support the exclusive psalmist position.

For Part 1 click here

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