Sufficiency (of the Psalms Is Not Indicated)

“The Psalter is given full recognition in the New Testament. The title ascribed to it is ‘The Book of Psalms,’ or ‘The Psalms.’” (thus undermining the idea that the Psalms are more than a song book and were not meant to be exclusively sung –see Luke 20:42, 24:44 & Acts 1:20)[1]

“If God had regarded the Psalms as inadequate to meet the needs of the Church in gospel times it is reasonable to suppose that He would have provided a substitute for the ancient book of praises. He provided a better substitute for the old ordinance of circumcision. He did away with the sacrifices, since the great Sacrifice had come. He put the Lord’s Supper in place of the old Paschal feast. Circumcision, the sacrifices, the Passover observance, were outworn. They were inadequate to meet the needs of this larger dispensation. But there is no slightest hint of anything as being offered to serve in place of the Psalms as the matter of praise in the worship of God.”[2]

“He Who could have made every disciple to be a David sings the Psalms of David.”[3]

“The superiority of the Word of God over all words of men will be admitted, and the Psalms of inspiration are certainly more fit to be used in the offering of praise than the best compositions of human genius… No system or collection of merely human hymns has ever proved satisfactory to the Church at large…”[4]

“There is no promise of such a gift in the gospel, to compose psalms and hymns; God hath provided matter sufficient; there is a promise for the spirit of prayer and supplication, Zech. 12, and of preaching and prophesying, in Joel, repeated in Acts 2; but no distinct promise for a gift of spiritual poetry, or singing; for these are but three things required to sing: fit matter, a voice, and heart; all which may be performed without any such special gift of composing; the matter is ready, if the heart and voice be present. 4. It is a duty laid generally on the whole church, without any distinction of gifts: all are commanded to sing, &c. Here is no hint of a gift required. 5. Christ would not ordain an ordinance of such consequence which the churches should want the use of; some utterly; and not one among many should know what it means, for there is hardly one among a thousand of saints which hath such a gift of composing psalms, and hymns, &c; and if it be an ordinance in one church, all others may want it, and so be deprived of the comfort of such a sweet ordinance for want of a pretended gift, when they have matter enough of praises before them.”[5]

“it deserves to be particularly noticed, that while there is no book of Psalms in the New Testament, there is no intimation whatever that one was needed; nor is there either a direction given to any man to furnish such a hook, nor a single promise of the influences of the Holy Spirit to assist any man in preparing one. Under the former dispensation, God raised up a sweet Psalmist of Israel whom he endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and eminently qualified for the important service. And by the instrumentality of a man, whom God called to the work and fitted for it, a collection of sacred songs, has been communicated to the church, which Christians all over the world, in every age, have found from comfortable experience, to be admirably adapted to the end for which it was given.”[6]

“However liberal he may be in the distribution of his gifts, he bestows none that are unnecessary. And, having already made provision for the edification of his church, by furnishing her with a book of Psalms, he did not call any of those, whom after his ascension, he endowed with the gifts of the Spirit, to provide another. Since, then, we are in the New Testament commanded to sing psalms, but never directed to make psalms we come to the conclusion, that we have the sanction of the King of Zion, authorizing the use of the psalms, and hymns, and songs, which had already been furnished, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”[7]

“That from the fact that God has given his church a book of Psalms, it would appear to be the divine will that this should be used to the exclusion of all others. We have already had occasion to remark, that in ancient days, on various occasions, individuals, under the influence of the Spirit of inspiration, gave expression to the gratitude of their hearts, in a song of praise. Such songs of praise are found in various parts of the Bible. But, in process of time, a great variety of songs, composed by different men on various occasions, were collected together into one book, which not only has a place in the volume of inspiration, but to which God himself has given a peculiar title, ‘The book of Psalms,’ or songs of praise. The peculiar title of the book designates the end for which it was specially intended. And it is a fact which deserves particular notice, that some of the songs contained in the Book of Psalms, are found likewise in other parts of the Bible.”[8]

“neither our Lord nor his Apostles have furnished any psalms or songs in the New Testament, for the use of the church, much less have they provided a book of Psalms. And further, there is no appointment given to any man to furnish psalms to be employed in the worship of God, nor is there a promise of the Spirit of Psalmody, to assist any one in performing this important service.”[9]

“the question for churches that hold to [ed. the Regulative Principle of Worship] is, “What songs has God commanded His people to sing in worship?” Biblical warrant for the Church’s singing requires positive evidence. It cannot be inferred from silence. David teaches that God commissioned him to write Psalms for the Church. Now these are the last words of David. Thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: “The Spirit of the Lord was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1-2). The Spirit inspired David, “the psalmist of Israel.” David arranged the Levitical singing at God’s worship (1Chronicles 16). At Hezekiah’s reform, Israel returned to God’s appointed music in the Church, 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…And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD also began…So all the assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded (2 Chronicles 29:25-28). What they sang were the words of David and of Asaph the seer (2Chronicles 29:30), probably already collected in the first several books of the Psalter (see Psalm 72:20).”[10]

“Sometimes we forget the tremendous significance of the existence of a rather large book of inspired songs. Such a book could only have arisen out of a situation in which the production of inspired songs for use in worship was the norm, not the exception, in liturgical practice. The time span covered by the psalter is of some importance at this point, because it shows that for a period of some 1000 years the Lord has seen fit to provide His people with inspired song writers to fulfill the need for acceptable worship song. It cannot be gainsaid that the very existence of a whole book of inspired songs were ever approved for use in services of worship during the period covered by the Old Testament.”[11]

“inasmuch as the Lord has provided us with a select collection of songs in the canon of Scripture, and in the biblical narrative has designated these materials as designed to be sung in his worship, we have the specification of a text. Such a divine provision in the Bible constitutes a prescription…The use of canonical materials for worship song presents a likeness to the reading of the Scriptures.”[12]

“Let us suppose, for a moment, that the Old Testament book of Psalms was not adequate as the vehicle of praise for the New Testament church. Is it not self evident that, if this really was the case, the first to realize it would have been our Lord? Our Lord did realize that there was need for a new sacrament. That is why he instituted the sacrament of his body and blood that we call the Lord’s Supper. Yet on the very occasion that he did this he led his disciples in the singing of a psalm out of the Psalter. And, according to all the evidence that I have seen, the apostle Paul followed his Lord’s example. He did not, himself, write new songs. What he did was to instruct both the Ephesians and the Colossians to sing the pneumatic psalms, hymns and songs that they already had—something they could easily do because they had the Psalter in their Septuagint version of the Bible. The apostles were inspired men. If there had been a deficiency in the book of Psalms, which they inherited in the old testament Scriptures, then they would surely have been quick to realize it.”[13]

1Parker, James. “The Psalms in the New Testament Church” in The Psalms in Worship (1907), Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1992, page 123.
2Wishart, W.I. “The Psalms the Divinely Authorized and Exclusive Manual of Praise” in The Psalms in Worship, page 53.
3Kennedy, James A. “The Psalms the Divinely Authorized and Exclusive Manual of Praise” in The Psalms in Worship, page 64. (quoting Joseph B. Lightfoot)
4Wishart, W.I. “The Psalms the Divinely Authorized and Exclusive Manual of Praise” in The Psalms in Worship, pages 57-58.
5Sidenham, Cuthbert. A Gospel-Ordinance: Concerning The Singing of Scripture-Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs; the Lawfulness of that Ordinance. London: 1653, PDF e-book, page 8.
6Cooke H., John Edgar & Thomas Houston. The True Psalmody or, the Bible Psalms the Church’s Only Manual of Praise. Belfast: James. Johnston, 1861, pages 67-68.
7Ibid., page 68.
8Ibid., page 69.
9Ibid., page 71.
10RPCNA Synod’s Study Committee on Worship. “The Psalms in the Worship of the Church.” Submitted to the Synod of the RPCNA, June 2004. First Reformed Presbyterian of Cambridge. PDF article.
11Bushell, Michael. Songs of Zion: A Contemporary Case for Exclusive Psalmody (Third edition). Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant Publications, 1999, page 62.
13Williamson G.I., “The Regulative Principle of Worship.” Ordained Servant, Vol. 10, No. 4, pages 67-78.