What is permissible in church worship?

by Matt Slick

Different churches have different styles of worship. Some use hymns; some do not. Some use instruments, and some do not. If we were to look at the instruction of the psalmists about what we are to do regarding worship, we find a broad scope of instruction.

  • Bowing down
    • "Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him," (Psalm 45:11).
    • "I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name," (Psalm 138:2).
  • Clapping
    • "O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy," (Psalm 47:1).
  • Clothing
    • "Worship the LORD in holy attire," (Psalm 96:9).
  • Dancing
    • "Let them praise His name with dancing. Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre," (Psalm 149:1).
    • "Praise Him with timbrel and dancing. Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe," (Psalm 150:4).
  • Lift up your hands
    • "So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name," (Psalm 63:4).
    • "Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the LORD," (Psalm 134:2).
    • " May my prayer be counted as incense before You. The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering," (Psalm 141:2).
  • Musical Instruments
    • Cymbals
      • "Praise Him with loud cymbals. Praise Him with resounding cymbals," (Psalm 150:1).
    • Harp
      • "Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings," (Psalm 33:1).
      •  "With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre," (Psalm 92:3).
    • Horn
      • "Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn," (Psalm 98:5-6).
    • Lute
      •  "With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre," (Psalm 92:3).
    • Lyre
      • "Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings," (Psalm 33:1).
      • "With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre," (Psalm 92:3).
    • Pipe
      • "Praise Him with timbrel and dancing. Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe," (Psalm 150:4).
    • Stringed Instruments
      • "For the choir director; with stringed instruments, upon an eight-string lyre. A Psalm of David," (Psalm 6:1, Title)
      • "For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Psalm of Asaph, a Song," (Psalm 76:1, Title). 
      • See Also Psalm 54:1, Title; 55:1, Title: 67:1, Title
    • Timbrel
      • "Let them praise His name with dancing. Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre," (Psalm 149:1).
      •  "Praise Him with timbrel and dancing. Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe," (Psalm 150:4).
    • Trumpet
    • "Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day," (Psalm 81:3).
    •  "Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn," (Psalm 98:5-6).
    • "Praise Him with trumpet sound. Praise Him with harp and lyre," (Psalm 150:1).
  • Praise
    • "Let them praise Your great and awesome name," (Psalm 99:3).
    • "I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will sing praise to my God while I have my being," (Psalm 104:33).
    • "Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD; Praise Him, O servants of the LORD," (Psalm 135:1).
  • Prayer
    • "For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David. 1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication," (Psalm 55:1).
  • Rejoicing
    •  "Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling," (Psalm 2:11).
  • Shouting,
    • "O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy," (Psalm 47:1).
    • "Shout joyfully to God, all the earth," (Psalm 66:1).
    • "Sing for joy to God our strength; Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob," (Psalm 81:1). Also, Psalm 95:2
    •  "Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises," (Psalm 98:4).
  • Silence
    • "There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God," (Psalm 65:1).
  • Singing
    • "But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You," (Psalm 5:11).
    •  "Sing to Him a new song. Play skillfully with a shout of joy," (Psalm 33:3).  Also, Psalm 98:1
    • "Sing to the LORD a new song. Sing to the LORD, all the earth," (Psalm 96:1).  See also Psalm 149:1
    • "Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name," (Psalm 30:4).
    • "Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises," (Psalm 98:4).
  • Speaking
    • "Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You," (Psalm 66:3).
  • Thanksgiving
    • "Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. For His lovingkindness is everlasting," (Psalm 106:1).
    • "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting," (Psalm 136:1).
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.