OBJECTIONS TO EXCLUSIVE PSALMODY pt 5 PAUL’S MYSTERY NOT IN THE PSALMS
The Mystery of the Gentiles being grafted into the Church is not in found in the book of Psalms?
Professor Scott Sanborn argues against exclusive Psalmody by stating that the mystery of Gentile inclusion does not appear within the Psalter. Ephesians 3:4-6 is the text in question.
By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (italics added).
Sanborn states, “[T]he psalms did not reveal this mystery.”(43) More emphatically, “No Old Testament revelation (including the Psalter) revealed this mystery.”(44) Again, “The wisdom of Christ … is God’s mystery, a mystery that was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets, including the Psalmists.”(45) Why this protest? If the Psalms do not reveal this mystery, they are not sufficient for New Testament worship. Then “it follows that the church is required to sing more than the Psalter in public worship.”(46) Not only so, “to restrict the church’s song to Old Testament revelation in the Psalter is at odds with the Regulative Principle of worship.”(47) Earlier in his article, Sanborn says, “By calling us to sing out of this mystery, Paul is surely calling us to sing more than the Psalter.”(48)
Psalm 117, among many others, readily answers this objection. “Praise the Lord, all nations; / Laud Him, all peoples! / For His lovingkindness is great toward us, / And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. / Praise the Lord!” Psalm 117, the shortest in the Psalter, is part of the so-called Egyptian Hallel. It is sung at the Jewish Passover in remembrance of Israel’s salvation and deliverance from Egypt. Of course, Passover points to Christ. “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7).
Rooted in deliverance and pointing to Christ, this Psalm calls “all nations” and “all people” to offer praise and worship to the Lord of glory. Specifically, all Gentile nations and peoples ought to “praise the Lord.” The implication is that all nations, Jew and Gentile, will be gathered in one body to worship and serve Jesus Christ. Calvin comments on this Psalm, “It would therefore serve no purpose for the prophet to address the heathen nations, unless they were to be gathered together in the unity of the faith with the children of Abraham.”(49) Matthew Henry refers to Ephesians 3:6 in his comments on the Psalm. “[T]he gospel of Christ is ordered to be preached to all nations, and by him the partition-wall is taken down, and those that were afar off are made nigh. This was the mystery which was hidden in prophecy for many ages, but was at length revealed in the accomplishment, That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, Eph. iii. 3, 6.”(50)
Yes, Psalm 117, among others, sets forth “the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit (Eph. 3:4-5, italics added). Note the comparison that Paul makes. The mystery was revealed in the Old Testament, but has now been more fully revealed. What is this mystery? “That the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
Sanborn’s protestations are ill-founded. He appears to miss the comparison Paul makes. Paul does not say that the mystery of gentile inclusion was not revealed in the Old Testament. Rather, he pointedly indicates that this mystery was not fully revealed in the Old Testament. Note Paul’s comparison once again: “You can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Eph. 3:4-5). “As” is a conjunction or particle “denoting comparison.”(51) Again, the mystery is, “That the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”(Eph.3:6).
That this mystery is revealed in the Old Testament is clear. Again, Psalm 117, for example, calls the Gentiles to join in the worship of the Lord of glory. This call is rooted in the promise given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The seed is Christ (Gal. 3:16). The promise is the gospel: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU’” (Gal. 3:8). The Father’s eternal promise to the Son stands behind all of the temporal promises: “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance” (Ps. 2:8). The Psalms are full of the gospel of Christ. They are full of the mystery of Gentile inclusion. Believers can sing the Psalms concerning this mystery. Additional newer songs are not required. The Psalter is sufficient for New Testament Praise.
- Scott F. Sanborn, “Inclusive Psalmody: Why ‘Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs’ Refer to More than the Old Testament Psalter,” Kerux 23:3 (December 2008): 20.
- Ibid., 34.
- Ibid., 36
- Ibid., 49, italics added.
- Ibid., 49.
- Ibid., 18.
- John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. James Anderson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 4:375.
- Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 3: 679.
- F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 221.
Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow
Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.