Psalm 149 & 150 – Should we use all kinds of instruments & even dance in our Church worship service?

Many people use Psalm 149 & 150 as their basis to support the use of all kinds of musical instruments in their Church worship service. They even insist that dancing is permitted since Psalm 149:3 says “Let them praise His name with the dance”.

Well, if we interpret Psalm 149 & 150 in this manner, we ought to use 2-edged swords & start “killing” in worship as well – since Psalm 149:6-7 says “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a 2-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the people…” So, obviously, Psalm 149 & 150 cannot be about what we can or cannot do in worship. To understand what these 2 Psalms are about, we need to appreciate their context and background.

In Exodus 14, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. They were pursued by Pharoah & his army all the way to the edge of the Red Sea. They were in a state of desperation – Pharoah’s army was about to kill all of them. In Ex 14:13-14, Moses said to the people “…Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD,…The LORD will fight for you,…”

What happened thereafter was a miracle – God opened the Red Sea and the people crossed over. Pharoah & his army pursued them but were drowned as the Red Sea covered them. This was the salvation of the LORD; this was how the LORD fought for them. After settling down on the other side of the Red Sea, Israel celebrated their “salvation” and amazing victory. They actually did nothing except depended on God. Moses led them in a song praising God & Miriam led them in a jubilant dance. Psalm 149 is reminiscent of the Ex 14 incident. If you have just been delivered from death in such an amazing manner, you would celebrate in a similar manner and exhibit such joy & jubilation as well.

Old Testament history are types & symbols of salvation fulfilled in the New Testament. This Red Sea crossing is a type of how we are rescued from the effects of sin. We cannot save ourselves; as sinners, we are hell-bound. God, through the work of Jesus on the Cross, rescued us just as He did the Israelites at the Red Sea. Our enemies – Satan & death – are destroyed, just as Pharoah & his army were. We cannot do anything, except to repent & believe by faith. If we fully appreciate the mighty hand of God in our salvation, we too will leap with jubilation and celebrate the way the Israelites did after crossing the Red Sea.

So, Psalm 149 & 150 is NOT about what type of musical instruments ought to be used or what we can or cannot do in our worship service. When it comes to worship, God “…does not desire sacrifice….He does not delight in burnt offering.” What God will not reject is “…a broken spirit, a broken & contrite heart – These God will not despise” – Psalm 51:16-17.

At the end of the day, it is about our hearts when we come to worship God. Worship is not about us and what we get out of it. It is about God and whether He is pleased to accept it. The use of certain instruments may distract us and our hearts will not be right before Him. Are we so joyous in our salvation that it results in jubilant dancing? Well, before we can be so joyous, we will first be weeping for our sins. Hence, we need to carefully examine our intent and purpose when considering whether all kinds of musical instruments & even dancing should be used in worship. Will God be pleased to accept these from us? This is something that we need to be very careful about lest God is displeased.

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3 thoughts on “Psalm 149 & 150 – Should we use all kinds of instruments & even dance in our Church worship service?”

  1. Well, I would say that there’s rejoicing before Yahweh and there’s worship. The Hebrew word for worship, phonetically shachah, means to bow down before, to prostrate before. Recognizing one’s place in the grand scheme of things by putting oneself inferior to Him is vitally important. I cringe when I hear “Jesus is my homey” and “the Man upstairs” and all that casual very informal talk. You can still have an intensely loving relationship with someone who is miles above you, so to speak. Look at Esther and Xerxes. She was his wife, but entirely subject to his decrees and laws. (A good lesson for the bride of Messiah!)

    But particularly with the feasts of Yahweh, there was to be rejoicing and offerings (not the same as animal sacrifices). For instance, an offering for the upcoming Shavuot (“Pentecost”) is two loaves of bread made with the first fruits of the wheat harvest. THAT is worship to bring those. (I make mine and give them to shut-in neighbors.) At Feast of Tabernacles, we get out green boughs and palm fronds to wave around while we hang out in temporary “booths” to remind us of the temporary nature of this life, to rejoice with Him. Christians would be aghast to see (in their very own bibles) that if the journey to the parties/feasts was too far they could take their crop tithes and so forth and sell them and carry money there instead:

    Deut 14:26  And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before YHWH your Elohim, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, 

    (That doesn’t sound like some ol’ meany-head “g-d” to me.)

    Granted, we don’t have a temple standing now, but our worship can still focus on the physical act (the natural before the spiritual principle). As king-priests, the altar and the lavar are necessary to enter into the holy place via dying to self and the cleansing of baptism. But, yeah–rejoicing, feasting, singing and dancing (as did Miriam and the women)–I would have to say Yahweh does like a good party, too. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Jenna. I welcome & appreciate them.

      I believe in joyful worship. Our God is glorious and worthy of our utmost zeal, attention and energy. There is no reason why our worship should be dull and uninteresting. If it is, something is not right.

      Yet, we are reminded in Eccl 5:1-2

      “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.”

      God is holy; we are sinful. God is in heaven; we are on earth. We need to be reverent & respectful when approaching Him, remembering that He is the Creator and we are His creatures. We can approach Him only via the mediator He provided for us – Jesus Christ our Lord & Savior.

      Corporate worship is subjected to the regulative principles: what is commanded is to be obeyed; what is not commanded is forbidden. In Leviticus 10, it was recorded that the sons of Aaron offered profane fire. This means they offered something that God did not command them to. And they were struck dead immediately. In 1 Sam 13:9, Saul made an offering when he was not the appointed priest of the people. He was rejected by God. In 2 Sam 6:7 Uzzah touched the ark of God in a manner that God did not prescribe. He was struck dead immediately. In 1 Sam 6:19, the people of Beth Shemesh looked into the ark of God in an irreverent manner. They were struck dead immediately.

      All these incidents convey to us the holiness of the God whom we worship. We cannot approach Him on our terms and do what we wish. Worship is for Him. He has to be pleased with it. It has nothing to do with whether it pleases us. We have to approach Him in the exact manner that He has prescribed and dictated. Only that will please Him. So what has He prescribed for corporate worship? Surveying the bible, we know that this should include the public reading of the bible, corporate prayer, singing of praises, exhortation and the preaching of God’s word. Each of these ought to be done with sincerity from our hearts with a contrite spirit. If our singing is supported by an orchestra & background dancers whose utmost desire is to glorify the God who rescued them from their sins – the way Miriam rejoiced – who is to judge us? It is God who is worshipped – He alone knows whether He would accept these because “…He does not see as man sees. Man looks at the outward appearane, but the Lord looks at our hearts.” 1 Sam 16:17. I would only judge myself and stir away from doing this because I know I will be distracted – giving attention to these instead of focusing on God. I will rather err on the side of sanctified caution because I am approaching a holy God. This is my understanding of the scriptures.

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