Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 14, 2016

“For they performed the worship of their God … in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon.”

Today’s devotion comes from Nehemiah chapter 12.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Nehemiah+12&version=NASB

I quote only the folowing verses.

“40 Then the two choirs took their stand in the house of God.  So did I and half of the officials with me;  41 and the priests, Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah, with the trumpets;  42 and Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malchijah, Elam and Ezer. And the singers sang, with Jezrahiah their leader, 43 and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.

44 On that day men were also appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and Levites;  for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served.  45 For they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification, together with the singers and the gatekeepers in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon.  46 For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God.  47 So all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah gave the portions due the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated portion for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated portion for the sons of Aaron.”   Nehemiah 12:40-47.

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Today’s Scripture, particularly verses 45-46, supports generally the Regulative Principle of Worship.

“For they performed the worship of their God … in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon.”  Verse 45.

Some people wrongly think that just because they are joyful, it gives them an excuse to worship however they want.  But, we see that even though “God had given them great joy” (verse 43), they “performed the worship of their God … in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon.”

Today’s Scripture, particularly verse 46, also specifically supports the use of Psalms to be used for songs of worship.  We can infer that Psalms were referred to by the words “in the days of David and Asaph”, because they wrote Psalms to be used for “songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God”.  Although some go as far as saying that songs of worship should only be based on the Psalms, I would not go that far.  The only point that I make herein is that we see too few songs of worship based on the Psalms and too many songs based on what some teenage music praise leader imagines would be a good song for worship.

Reformed Doctrine contains the Regulative Principle of Worship.  The following is a quote from an article titled “The Regulative Principle of Worship (1)” by Griess Cory in “O Come Let Us Worship”, Volume 88/2012, Issue:  14. 4/15/2012 in the Standard Bearer, a publication of the Protestant Reformed Churches.

“…The regulative principle of worship is the principle that God in His Word tells us how to worship Him.  What God commands in worship must be done, and what He does not command in worship is forbidden. This principle arises first of all out of the second com­mandment. In the first commandment God commands us whom to worship—“no other gods but Me”.  In the second commandment God speaks to us about how to worship Him.  Exodus 20:4:  “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

Negatively, the second commandment tells us we are not to worship Him by graven images.  Israel was tempted by this. When they made the golden calf, they weren’t thinking that the actual calf was their god; rather they were attempting to worship Jehovah as represented by that calf.  The issue was the mode and manner of worship.  The calf was not a new god;  it was a new way to worship Jehovah God.

God says in the second command, “I will not be wor­shiped that way.”  The Heidelberg Catechism expands the application of the principle that God speaks to how He will be worshiped.  The Heidelberg says it is not up to the imaginations of men how God will be worshiped, but rather He will be worshiped in no other way than He has commanded in His Word.  He is the sovereign God and He determines how He will be worshiped.

We can state that positively as well. “Worship Me,” God is saying in the second commandment. “And worship me, the way I desire to be worshiped.”  That’s the regulative principle—worship God in the way He wants;  He’s the one being worshiped, after all.  It’s for Him.  Give Him what He desires.  This is the question we are asking when we speak of the regulative principle of worship:  what does God want in the worship of His name?  When we come for this covenantal dialogue, what exactly does He want to take place?  What are the elements of this dialogue that God requires?  May we add different elements to the covenantal meeting?

When people deal with these issues concerning wor­ship, they often begin by asking the wrong question.  Some begin by asking, “What will be the most appeal­ing to people?  What will allow people to showcase their individual talents the best and make them feel most special?  What will be the elements that are most like the culture around us?  What will be the most fun for us?”  Or on the other side of the coin, sometimes the first question people ask is, “What are our favorite songs from childhood?  Or what have we always done?”  But none of these questions address the essence of it.

The question first of all is, how does God desire to be worshiped?  What does His Word say about the public worship of His name?  In worship God speaks to us, and we respond in love for Him.  He is the audience, not us.  Therefore the question is, what does He desire from us?  What will please Him?  What brings Him more glory?  ..”


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