Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Psalm 143 (New RPCI Psalter)

Enjoying the Psalms so much at church, I thought I'd share one with my readers, especially those who are deprived of God's hymnbook in their worship services. I've chosen this one from our new Psalter, which we sung this morning. We were looking at the great battle in which all Christians are involved from Ephesians 6.

Psalm 143 (Tune: Invitation)

O LORD, my prayèr hear,

and heed my pleading cry!

In faithfulness give ear;

in righteousness reply.

2 To judgment bring not me,

your servant, to be tried,

for none alive can be

in your sight justified.

2 3 My enemy pursued

my very soul in me,

me to the ground subdued,

and in dark places he

there me to dwell has made,

like those dead long ago.

4 My heart's in me dismayed,

my spirit faint does grow.

3 5 Yet I do call to mind

the mem'ry of past days,

your works of every kind,

and muse upon your ways.

6 To you I stretch my hands;

my longing soul is too,

as those dry, arid lands,

so thirsting after you.

4 7 O LORD, soon answer me.

My spirit failing is;

hide not your face from me,

lest I be like to those

into the pit who go.

8 When morning comes, to me

your loving-kindness show;

my trust in you will be.

Show me the way to go;

my soul I lift to you.

9 LORD, save me from my foes;

you are my refuge true.

10 Teach me to do your will,

for you're my God; let your

good Spirit lead me still

into a path that's true.

6 11 For your name's sake, in grace,

O LORD, revive now me,

and in your righteousness

my soul from trouble free,

12 and in your love spurn those

who en'mies are to me.

Destroy all my soul's foes;

I serve you faithfully.

Click here to see the psalm.


Blogger Philip S Taylor said...

Is Ted preaching through Ephesians? Another books I was tempted to put into my list was The Christian In Complete Armour. I have read bits and love it. I need to get the time to read it right through. Maybe Hannah would listen as I read :-)

Monday, August 14, 2006 8:42:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Teddy wasn't preaching; he's on holiday. Billy Hamilton, the evangelist associated with our Galway work, was preaching. Excellent preaching fom Billy as normal!

Monday, August 14, 2006 4:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man...loved what you did with 143...great...also...we sing the psalms as well...

i read up on the freaked me out...anyway...

GOD bless...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 5:33:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Anonymous Southerner,

Glad to hear that you're singing Psalms. So many churches don't sing Psalms at all today, which is amazing given the exhortation to sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs".

You should see us in the dark - now that's freaky! ;)

So what did you find particularly freaky? (Did you look at

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 9:28:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what was freaky i had no idea of anything about you (rpci or any presby for that matter...)...and we have a group...home church type thing...and we are called..."the society of the faithful"...when i saw what that link said you left at the pub a while back, about what you call your churches and selves...freaky....and we sing a lot of well as other songs...and we don't vote...but we don't vote at thought it was a freaky kind of way...

Thursday, August 17, 2006 12:29:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you it is dreadful that so many churches are ignoring the Psalms in worship.
It is indeed amazing given the exhortation to sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs". Imagine ignoring a full 1/3 of the options!Almost as amazing as churches which refuse to use the other 2/3s don't you think....

Thursday, August 24, 2006 5:26:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Well, at least Exclusive Psalmists are being consistent with their theology... (That's the point.)

We take "psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit" (ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις) to be a typical Jewish parallelism from Paul, referring to different classes of hymn-song (which we also find in the Psalm headings of the Septuagint and which are translated as psalms, hymns and songs in our English Bibles). We have no evidence in the Scriptures of the NT church using any songs but what we call "Psalms". Early Church history corroborates this.

The strained attempts at trying to produce "hymnic fragments" from the NT (more like creedal statements) shows the ends that people who believe in the Regulative Priniciple but want to sing man-made hymns have to go to.

They should ponder the fact that when the Emperor Domitian was heaping up all those Psalters and Bibles for a bonfire, he couldn't even find a fragment of a man-made hymn to burn!

Thursday, August 24, 2006 10:18:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

As an ex-ardent anti-Exclusive Psalmist (try and say that fast!), I know where you're coming from (so does my wife).

I used to think, "RPs are a bunch of schismatic Pharisees!" but my commitment to being open to my own interpretation being wrong and my commitment to obeying God whatever others may think, enabled me to be objective enough to listen to the arguments (and try and refute them!). I just found that all my arguments were being answered.

(I was an Exclusive Psalmist, Baptist Presbyterian for a while! If I have to be that again when confronted with a superior Scriptural argument, then so be it. At least my conscience is clear.)

By the way, the Exclusive Psalm singers that I have spoken to from a hymn-singing background usually had to get over an emotional hurdle before they could examine the arguments on both sides objectively.

Thursday, August 24, 2006 10:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say
Well, at least Exclusive Psalmists are being consistent with their theology... (That's the point.)

To be honest I don't get your point here. Are you saying that non exclusive psalmists are being inconsistent to their theology????

Re Paul's use of parallelism - I see that it *may* be a parallelism, but then maybe it isn't & it strikes me that it's much more likely to be the latter rather than the former.

I think the 'psalms only' approach raises a possible (and in my view v. unlikely) reading of scripture to a principle which results in RPs being (if they are being consistent?) unable to join with other reformed churches in worship, or indeed evangelism (e.g. children's work).

In all seriousness I do agree that in worship too little weight is given to the use of the psalms in many churches. Further I affirm the use of the psalms as a glorious means to worship the Lord, it's just that I really can't see why it should be the only way.

Reading your response does leave one feeling that you think everyone else is being willfully disobedient on the issue;

"The strained attempts at trying to produce "hymnic fragments" from"

implies that scholars in a vain effort to refute the strong arguments of the RPs will go to any lengths to avoid the truth

or your

"commitment to obeying God whatever others may think, enabled me to be objective"

implies the rest of use are not!

Could I be blunt here and say you need a sense of perspective!
It's neither scurrilously poor scholarship, nor willful disobedience - it is simply that the rest of the Christian community doesn't find the arguments even remotely convincing.

Friday, August 25, 2006 9:55:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I said, “Glad to hear that you're singing Psalms. So many churches don't sing Psalms at all today, which is amazing given the exhortation to sing ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’.”

Just to make it explicit for you, the point of the above statement is that those who profess to sing man-made hymns on the basis that the word “hymns” in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16, are inconsistent with their interpretation/ theology when they exclude “psalms” from their worship as many do. Obviously this is not saying that all non-exclusive psalmists (non-ExPs) are inconsistent, because some do include Psalms in their worship; these brethren often term themselves “inclusive psalmists”. I’m glad to hear that you seem to come under this category.

I agree with you that, taken on its own, Paul’s clause could be taken as a parallelism, or could not. Taken in the light of our wider interpretation of Scripture, ExPs are strongly inclined/believe that it is a parallelism.

To you, as an English-speaker, it may seem blatantly obvious that “hymns” in the texts refers to man-made hymns, but that is because you are understanding the term from your own culture. In our culture, hymns mean those songs that we use in praise to God and that aren’t Psalms or choruses.

ExPs Non-Engagement with Non-ExPs?
Although there are occasions where ExPs will refrain from singing a hymn, while present in a worship service that uses hymns, they sing the Psalms when they are used. Also there are occasions when they do sing everything with other believers, e.g. at interdenominational events where non-ExPs are loving to their ‘weaker’ brethren and use only Psalms (e.g. P&R Conference and Banner of Truth Conference). Also not all services are completely composed of singing, although given what is happening to churches (inc. those who term themselves ‘Reformed’ churches), it may be getting close to that!

How the question of Psalmody enters into evangelism, I don’t know. Certainly, I have found RPs to be some of the more zealous in engaging with other believers in evangelism, when I was at university. I have sung and evangelised and fellowshipped with ‘Reformed’ and non-Refomed.

Maybe you have met some unusual variety of RP at the University of Ulster?

Would we condemn a Presbyterian in England as being schismatic for not being part of the Anglican Church? Would we condemn a Baptist in a Presbyterian congregation for not letting his child be baptised? As Protestants we don’t constrain our brethren for acting according to their consciences. Inevitably, there are different ways in which all Christians are unable to enter into full communion with all other believers. Such is the reality of the Church, but would we have them do so against their conscience? I think not!

Most Non-ExPs Approach to the Arguments of ExPs
You may have assumed that I am suggesting that “everyone else is being wilfully disobedient on the issue”. Where have I said this? I do mean that I am a little disbelieving with regards to those who end up with fanciful notions about “hymnic fragments” when they have exhausted all other arguments.

But first, let me deal with you jumping to the conclusion that I am implying everyone else isn’t objective, because I stated that being objective led me to listen carefully to the arguments of ExPs. Some are objective, but not all…

Most Christians never think of the issue. They never ask, “How should I worship God? Does He set parameters to what we should do in worship?” This is the sad reality. They just do what they’ve been exposed to.

Others meet or hear about ExPs and are really surprised. They’d never really thought about it, but after all, the majority of Christians today don’t practice this and say, “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Sing hymns!’” (without asking whether the Biblical use of the word is the same as our English use), so they dismiss it without much thought.

However, another reality is that Christians are usually biased toward the tradition that they have been brought up in/come into at conversion. Therefore most Christians in this category do not treat the issue objectively and don’t even think of considering for a moment that there might be something to it. Although RPs may be in a minority in N. Ireland today, ExPs were in the majority up until the very end of the 19th Century. (The majority didn’t use instruments in worship either.)

Others do listen to the arguments or seek out the arguments, but this is a tiny minority. However, from the confessions that I have heard from quite a few ExPs, they often had a big emotional hurdle to get over. Others have the even bigger hurdle of being a pastor of a non-ExP church, and this often affects their objectivity. Others can feel the pressure of not wanting to be the odd-one-out (hence my statement “whatever others may think”) and this affects their objectivity.

To say that I was committed to “obeying God whatever others may think, enabled me to be objective” is not to be haughty, but is a statement of fact regarding myself and, I think, a correct judgment of what the real Christian world is like. It is also an appeal for my readers to be objective and open, and be aware of their prejudices, biases and fears.

Another thing is that most believers today are ignorant of the Regulative Principle of Worship (the historic non-Anglican position on worship) and don’t see why they need to justify the elements of worship as long as they are well-meaning.

Most Non-ExPs Approach to the Arguments of ExPs
Those who hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship need to justify their belief in singing man-made hymns. Most quote “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” and leave it at that. It doesn’t enter their mind that the word “hymn” could be anything other than a man-made hymn.

Those who are properly acquainted with Greek know otherwise. They know that there are various terms used for different categories of songs to God in the Bible. They know that psalms, hymns and songs are these categories. They know these terms are used in the headings to the Psalms (even those without an acquaintance with Greek who think about it will work this out). Those who know Hebrew as well will know that the Book of Psalms would have been more accurately translated in the Septuagint with the term “Book of Hymns”. So they know that this ignorant understanding of the texts can’t justify the singing of man-made hymns.

Some say, “Why would Paul say, ‘Psalms, Psalms and Psalms’?” But Paul doesn’t say this. He could simply be either expansive or could be using a parallelism, which is very common for Jews. Those who discern this, then come to the conclusion that these texts won’t give them the warrant that they need. What next?

There are other arguments (e.g. the new revelation in the NT about Christ demands more songs and the Psalms present Christ in the shadows, so we need less shadowy forms in the New Covenant administration), which I don’t have time to go into further, but they all beg the question, “Where are the hymns in the NT and in the Early Church if it is so important to supplement/ replace the Psalms?”

Hymnic Fragments
Some discern that there are some statements that seem poetic in Paul’s writing and seize on the idea that these are evidence for hymns, e.g. 1 Tim 3:16:

“God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.”

Having looked at these “hymnic fragments” and the arguments for them (and the above is one of the better ones), I think it is evident that they are creedal statements, or just plain poetry. They lack the structure for song (when compared with early Medieval Greek forms, or any other forms for that matter!) and they just have no indication that they are hymns at all. Why haven’t previous generations discerned these as hymns? Why is there no evidence of man-made hymnody in the Early Church, when Psalm-singing is so evident in the Church Fathers? Given this, one really has to question the motives and/ or judgment of those who come up with these claims. These arguments are extremely “strained”.

I was not saying these are scholars who are overwhelmed by the ExP arguments and are looking for a way out, and have thus become “scurrilous” and “wilfully disobedient”! I confess that my statement in this regard was not phrased well as it gave you such an impression. I think they’re struggling to find a warrant for singing man-made hymns, when they know that they need to do this in the light of the Regulative Principle, and they are motivated by their love for hymns.

“The rest of the Christian community doesn’t find the [ExP] arguments even remotely convincing…”
As for this statement, again the majority of “the rest of the Christian community” haven’t heard the arguments or don’t even know that such a position exists! The statement says more about your opinion than anything else.

What the “rest of the Christian community” thinks is not so impressive as it may sound. Modern Christianity is hardly a discerning group and the majority are wrong on a lot of things.

Your implied derision in the statement “the arguments [aren’t] even remotely convincing” shows a lack of discernment on your part, and shows great disrespect to a large body (probably the majority) of godly and wise Christians in past ages who didn’t think these arguments so ludicrous.

We won’t all agree on everything in this life - fair enough. But don’t you think we should seriously consider the arguments that lay behind the worship of a significant body (majority?) of believers prior to the 20th Century?

Have You Adequately Studied the Arguments Yourself?
I changed from being non-ExP from a non-ExP family singing hymns all over the place to being ExP. I went from not believing in paedobaptism to believing in it. I have and continue to try to read the best arguments on these and other issues. (I’m reading two systematic theologies that come from a different perspective to my own, a book arguing for dispensationalism and a book arguing against infant baptism.) If I have to change my opinion, then I will. So one can’t say I’m not being objective or open. Are you approaching this subject in the same manner? (This is a question, not an accusation.)

Have you read a book setting forth the case for ExP? Have you thoroughly examined the arguments, so that you able to say that the arguments are not even “remotely convincing”? I hope you are in a position to make this statement.

Do you believe in the Regulative Principle of Worship? If so, then where is your warrant for singing man-made hymns, give the lack of evidence in the Bible and in Early Church history?

I have taken a lot of time to answer your accusations, so would you please take a little time to answer these questions? I'd be interested in knowing.

Saturday, August 26, 2006 8:12:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoa are talking to two different anon....

the first one is me...tss...the one you told you were glad to hear we sing seem to think i am the sir...i am not...and don't know who it is...

but they said was somewhat critical...and i would ever say anything so direct to or about someone else without leaving my real name...

i am the first two anons....but the other anon's aren't ...


Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:34:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

To TSS: I know you're not the 'anonymous' to whom I have given a lengthy reply above.

You both have different writing styles and I know roughly where you come from via SiteMeter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:10:00 am  

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