Ezra 3, Union With Christ, And Exclusive Psalmody -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress
WTJ 37:2 (Winter 1975) p. 218
Ezra 3, Union With Christ, And Exclusive Psalmody
In the preceding article1 we argued that Christ is the leader, the model, and the motivator of New Testament congregational singing. We tried to show also that Christ “sings” the whole of Scripture to the congregation. In the present article we shall examine the function of singing in public worship, and argue thereby that the Bible authorizes us to sing any words that we may legitimately use in teaching.
Even a cursory examination of the songs in the Bible shows that singing has many functions. The psalmists pray, confess sin, make petitions, offer praises, teach, admonish, instruct, etc. For simplicity’s sake we shall concentrate on one function of singing, namely, the function of teaching.
8. Singing in the Old Testament in general
First, the Old Testament in general presents singing as (among other things) a form of teaching. This is shown by the mere fact that 1 Chronicles 25:1 describes the singers as “prophesying with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals.” Their singing is a particular variety of prophesying, namely a prophesying with harps, etc. Moreover, in the very first case where the Lord makes explicit provision for continued congregational singing, namely in Deuteronomy 32, his design is to give to Israel certain words which will witness against them (Deut. 31:19, 21–22, 28, 32:44–47). The whole context speaks of ensuring by various means the continued teaching of the law: writing (31:9), reading (31:10–13), exhortation (32:45), ap-
WTJ 37:2 (Winter 1975) p. 219
pointment of a successor (31:1–8), threatening (31:24–29), and singing. Because the Israelites have all these means available to teach them, they will be without excuse when they do not obey.
9. Singing in Ezra 3
Next, the structure of Ezra 3 confirms the teaching function of singing. We have already seen that Ezra 3:10–13 speaks of a third ministry, a prophetic minis...
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