How we worship - Red Roses or Daffodils

Imagine the situation, a man plans to buy his wife some flowers to express his love for her. His wife has told him many times that she loves to get red roses. As the man visits the florists he is overwhelmed with the aroma and beauty of some daffodils on display. He is faced with a dilemma - does he buy his wife what he knows she likes, or does he go for the daffodils, which he likes?

In some ways it is not really a dilemma at all. His desire is to please his wife, so rather than giving her what he likes and thinks she might like, he buys a dozen red roses, knowing that this exactly what she wants.

God, in the Bible has told us exactly how He delights to be worshipped. And we must worship God according to how He wishes. Whatever is not commanded is forbidden.

In singing praise to God we have not been left to ourselves to devise what we may regard as suitable or appealing songs. God has given us a unique book of praise, the book of Psalms. It is this book of praise that we use exclusively in our worship. In Colossians 3:18 and Ephesians 5:19 we are told to use, "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs."

Initially it might seem that exclusive psalm singers have 'shot themselves in the foot' by quoting these verses. However quite the reverse is true. In Colossians 3:16 Paul tells us that in singing these songs we are letting "the Word of Christ dwell in us richly." Only the inspired Word of God can be described this way. It should be noted also that in the two verses quoted these songs are described as spiritual, ie. they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. No mere human compositions could be described in this way.

It is also significant to note that in the version of the Old Testament that Paul and others of his day used, the individual psalms were given titles - psalms, hymns or songs. Indeed Psalm 76 is described as a psalm, hymn and a song. So what we must remember as we read these two texts is what did Paul mean by these terms? The answer surely is, the book of Psalms.

So, we believe that God has commanded us to use the psalms exclusively in our worship and we have no warrant to use anything else.

But how exactly do we sing them? Well again the answer is the way that God has instructed us. We follow the practice of the great majority of Christians through the ages as we sing the psalms exclusively without the accompaniment of musical instruments. Throughout the New Testament there is no mention of any musical instruments being used in worship, simply "the fruit of lips that confess His name," Hebrews 13:15.

But what about all the references to musical instruments in the Old Testament?

Well there are several points we need to bear in mind about the instruments in Old Testament worship.

They were used only by the priests and Levites and not the people in general. We need also note that they were used alongside animal sacrifice. The playing of the instruments was only as long as the sacrifice was being offered. After the sacrifice was finished the worship continued without instrumental accompaniment. II Chronicles 29:27-29.

It is important to bear in mind that they were used at a time of spiritual incompleteness, being closely associated with the Old Testament sacrificial system. And so like many other Old Testament practices, eg incense, they are no longer appropriate as the cross of Christ has brought to an end the sacrificial system.

So the question is. Do we give to God red roses or daffodils?

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