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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:

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Over a dozen reasons why the argument for Exclusive Psalmody doesn't stand up, Part 1

The point of dispute is not the singing of Psalms. It is the singing of Psalms exclusively. To say that the book of Psalms gives us many wonderful examples of how God is to be praised is one thing but to say that only the Psalter is to be used and nothing else in worship is something else entirely. 

Does the Bible teach that we have only one book of inspired praise and that is the book of Psalms and therefore nothing of mere human composition is ever to be sung? I do not believe that it does. I don't believe that the Scriptures nor Church History agrees with the exclusive Psalmist position.

Here are a over a dozen reasons for believing so.

1. The terms 'Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs' in Ephesians 5:19 & Colossians 3:16 do not refer to the 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms. 

It is the premise of exclusive psalmists that these terms refer to the divisions of the Psalter in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

However, the meaning of a Bible word is to be ascertained by its usage in the inspired Scriptures and not merely by its usage in a translation of the Scriptures. Keeping this principle in view the word 'Psalms' in the New Testament is used in a far wider manner than the 150 Psalms of David. It refers to a whole section of the Old Testament, Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me

The term 'Psalm' here actually refers to 13 books of the Old Testament: Ruth, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, & Daniel. 

If these three terms do, as exclusive psalmists allege, refer to the divisions of the Psalter then the word 'spiritual' prefacing the word 'song' is superfluous and unnecessary. If the word 'song' refers to the Psalter then surely they are spiritual in character anyway. The use of the word 'spiritual' to indicate the type of song in view demonstrates that these words have a much wider meaning than applying to the Psalter. 

Furthermore, exclusive psalmists foist one meaning upon the word 'Psalms', ie. that it refers exclusively to the 150 Psalms of David, and they reject another meaning inherent in the word. The word 'Psalms' refers to items of praise sung in the Old Testament originally in tandem with a musical accompaniment. This is a point exclusive psalmists conveniently ignore and it is their practice to refuse to sing with music in Church, at least. 

Rev Andrew Foster [Pentiction FPC, Canada] has written an excellent article demonstrating that the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament does not support the assertion of the exclusive psalmists. He demonstrates that the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament uses these terms in a far wider sense than exclusive psalmists suggest: An examination of the Greek terms psalmos, humnos and ode as they are used in the Septuagint version of the Scriptures (the LXX) to see if the practice of the LXX lends support to the concept of exclusive psalmody

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