Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Why Should We Sing Psalms?

Why Should We Sing Psalms? by Joel Beeke is part of the 12-booklet Cultivating Biblical Godliness series published by Reformation Heritage Books.  This short booklet, at just 30 pages, looks at why Christians should sing psalms in corporate worship.

Mr. Beeke considers three areas for why Christians should sing psalms: the biblical basis, the experiential benefits, and the beauty and glory of singing.  First, he notes three biblical reasons for singing psalms: (1) God gave the psalms for Israel and all nations to sing, (2) the psalms reveal Christ and His sufferings and glory, and (3) Jesus and the New Testament church sang the psalms.

Next, he gives us three experiential reasons for singing the psalms: (1) it causes the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, (2) it helps us to be filled with God's Spirit, and (3) it enables us to worship God in every experience.

Then, Mr. Beeke looks at two aspects of the beauty and glory of singing the psalms: (1) the psalms lift up our eyes to the hope of glory and (2) the psalms keep God supreme in our worship.  He also appeals to church history as a reason for singing psalms and notes that "when men began to turn away from a God-centered faith, they also turned away from the Psalter," (p. 28).

The arguments that Mr. Beeke presents are appealing, but as a layperson, I do not have the influence needed to incorporate psalm singing into the services of my local church.  I have tried to add psalm singing to my private worship of God, but I have not been successful using the Psalter in my devotional time.  In part, this is due to my own lack of musical skill, but I also think that the psalms are primarily meant for corporate worship.

Therefore, I recommend Why Should We Sing Psalms? for all Christians, but for change to take place in the worship structure of today's church, the singing of psalms needs to be embraced by the elders and deacons of individual local churches.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord," (Col. 3:16).