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Reverence and Solemnity:

Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship

I. Where Does Scripture Speak of Reverence?

            The relevant texts on reverence[1] in the Authorized Version are:

Lev. 19:30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

Lev. 26:2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

Psa. 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

Psa. 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

Matt. 21:37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.

Mark 12:6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.

Luke 20:13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.

Eph. 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Heb. 12:9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Heb. 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

These texts demonstrate that God[2] is reverend—and consequently His worship, which is to reflect His character, is to be characterized by reverence. Hebrews 12:28 commands that God’s service involves reverence, and service is one of the standard Greek words for worship.[3] The assemblies, services, or worship of the Lord’s church must be characterized by reverence and godly fear if they are to be acceptable or well pleasing[4] to the Lord. In “the assembly of the saints . . . God is greatly to be feared . . . and to be had in reverence” (Ps 89:7). His “sanctuary,”[5] His holy place where His holy worship takes place, the tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament, is to be a place of “reverence” (Lev 19:30; 26:2). Reverence is contrasted with idolatry (Lev 26:1-2). Reverence is not optional—it is essential if worship is to please the infinitely holy God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

II. What is Reverence?

            The Authorized Version renders a number of Hebrew and Greek words as reverence. In Leviticus 19:30;[6] 26:2[7] and Ps 89:7 reverence is the standard Hebrew word for fear.[8] God’s name is holy and reverend because He is to be feared on account of His glorious redemption and covenant (Ps 111:9), His majestic creation (Ps 139:14), and His terrible judgments (Ps 145:6). He is separate from and infinitely superior to all false gods, as One who is “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Ex 15:11). “[G]reat is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chr 16:25). The “LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible” (Deut 10:17; 7:21). “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth” (Ps 47:2). Jehovah thy God is a “glorious and fearful name” (Deut 28:58), and “with God is terrible majesty” (Job 37:22); “I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Mal 1:14). The people of God ought consequently to address Him as: “LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments” (Neh 1:5; 9:32; Dan 9:4). “Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy” (Ps 99:3). The Lord and His Messiah (Ps 45:4) do “great and terrible things” and “terrible things in righteousness” for the redemption and salvation of their people (Deut 10:21; Ps 65:5; 2 Sam 7:23; Neh 4:14; Ps 106:22; Is 64:3). The Lord’s redemption makes Him “a name of greatness and terribleness” (1 Chr 17:21). “[T]here is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Ps 130:4). He likewise executes fearful judgments on the wicked in the “great and terrible day of the LORD” (Joel 2:11, 31; Zeph 2:11; Mal 4:5). He is to be adored and worshipped because of His reverend and holy terribleness and fearfulness (Ps 66:3, 5; 68:35; 76:7, 12; 96:4). The saint’s reverence for Jehovah and His Messiah is a sacred fear of Him flowing from the glory and majesty of the Holy One’s awe-inspiring redemption of His blood-bought people and righteous and retributive wrath upon the unholy.

Indeed, Psalm 89:7 connects “reverence” with “greatly fearing” God, employing a verb for trembling with fear or awe.[9] The word is rendered elsewhere as “terrified” (Deut 20:3) and “shake terribly” (Is 2:21). The persistent warnings in the Pentateuch that any improper approach into the presence of God could lead to instant death (Ex 28:35, 43; 30:20, 21; Lev 15:31; 16:2, 13; Num 4:15-20, etc.)—warnings that were not mere idle threats, but were actually carried out (Lev 10:1-2)—illuminate the sort of reverential fear and awe that befits worship that enters into the presence of Jehovah, Sovereign of heaven and earth. If improper approach into the presence of mere mortal kings could bring death (Esth 4:11), how much the more an improper approach into the presence of the King of Kings? Sanctifying or setting apart God as holy is connected with this reverent fear: “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Is 8:13). “[S]anctify the Holy One of Jacob, and . . . fear the God of Israel” (Is 29:23). Biblical worship sets apart and exalts God as the high, holy, and sanctified One by approaching His awful majesty with reverence. On the other hand, irreverence is an idolatrous perversion of the character of God. He will not tolerate irreverence, but will punish those who profane or make common His holy name with awful temporal and eternal punishments.

            The New Testament renders three different Greek words with forms of reverence. The Gospels indicate that the Son of God must receive “reverence” (Matt 21:37; Mr 12:6; Lu 20:13), and Hebrews 12:9 indicates that if human fathers deserve “reverence,” God the Father is so much the more worthy of reverent submission. The word employed in these verses[10] means “to cause to turn (in shame), to shame” or “to show deference to a person in recognition of special status, turn toward something [or] someone, have regard for, respect.”[11] It is to “give heed or regard to, respect, reverence,”[12] “to show respect to a person on the basis of his high status.”[13] Elsewhere in the New Testament the verb is employed of showing “regard” for and connected with “fearing” (Lu 18:2, 4), is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 4:14) or “ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14; Tit 2:8). The related noun is rendered “shame” (1 Cor 6:5; 15:34), and means “the state of being ashamed, shame, humiliation” or “deference to a person in recognition of special status, respect, regard,”[14] that is, “respect, reverence.”[15] The word indicates “a state of embarrassment resulting from what one has done or failed to do,” focusing “upon the embarrassment which is involved in the feeling of shame”[16] and which is associated with a “change of conduct, that return of a man upon himself, which a wholesome shame brings with it in him who is its subject.”[17] The Father and the Son are shown reverence when believers, conscious of and ashamed of their sin, approach God with deference, deep humility, abased subjection, and profound respect, recognizing that this One with whom they have to do is the omniscient and infinitely holy King. Such reverence is not optional—those who show God reverence live (Heb 12:9)—those who do not die.

            Hebrews 12:28-29 indicates that God must be served or worshipped[18]“acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.” The only other text in the New Testament with this word for reverence translates the word as “shamefacedness” (1 Tim 2:9).[19] The word signifies “modesty, with . . . resulting respect.”[20] It is man’s “attitude in face of . . . the awful, wherever and however manifested. It is dread . . . of the violation of the [standard]. Its opposite is hubris. It is thus ‘reverence’ before God . . . respect for the one visited by the [grace] of God.”[21] Hebrews 12 associates reverence with “godly fear.”[22] One can compare Ephesians 5:33, where “reverence” is the standard New Testament verb for “fear,”[23] signifying “to have a profound measure of respect for, (have) reverence, respect, with special reference to fear of offending.”[24] The “godly fear” of Hebrews 12:28 is employed of the prayers of Christ in Hebrews 5:7, where the Father accepted the Lord Jesus’ prayer “in that he feared.” The noun is related to the adjective meaning God-fearing, devout, reverent, or pious[25] found in Luke 2:25 and Acts 2:5; 8:2. Thus:

[The “godly fear” of the devout man is] that mingled fear and love which together constitute the piety of man toward God. . . . [The devout man is] accurately and scrupulously performing that which is prescribed with the consciousness of the danger of slipping into a careless negligent performance of God’s service, and of the need therefore of anxiously watching against the adding to or diminishing from or in any other way altering, that which has been by Him commanded. . . . [T]he [one with “godly fear” is the] anxious and scrupulous worshipper, who makes a conscience of changing anything, of omitting anything, being above all things fearful to offend [God].[26]

Noah had such piety when he was “moved with fear”[27] to build the ark (Heb 11:7), acting out of anxious “concer[n] [and] reverent regard.”[28] Owen writes concerning the combination of “reverence and godly fear” in Hebrews 12:28:

Aidos [reverence] . . . [is] “a holy abasement of soul in divine worship, in a sense of the majesty of God, and our own vileness, with our infinite distance from him.” This, in extraordinary instances, is called “blushing,” being “ashamed,” and “confusion of face,” Ezra 9:6; Dan. 9:7. So it is in extraordinary cases; but for the essence of it, it ought always to accompany us in the whole worship of God. And eulabeia [godly fear] is “a religious awe on the soul in holy duties, from a consideration of the great danger there is of sinful miscarriages in the worship of God, and of his severity against such sins and offences.” Hereby the soul is moved and excited unto spiritual care and diligence, not to provoke so great, so holy and jealous a God, by a neglect of that exercise of grace which he requires in his service, which is due unto him on the account of his glorious excellencies.[29]

Such reverence and godly fear are necessary if believers are to “serve” or worship God “acceptably”[30] (Heb 12:28), that is, in a way that is “wellpleasing” and thus “acceptable” to Him (Rom 12:1–2; 14:18; 2 Cor 5:9; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; Col 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21).[31] Reverence and godly fear are the necessary attitude for acceptance before a God who is a “consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).

III. Where Does Scripture Speak of Solemnity?

            The relevant texts[32] in the King James Bible on solemn worship are found in several groups. The first[33] refers to the public gathering for worship as a “solemn assembly”:

Lev. 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

Num. 29:35 On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein:

Deut. 16:8 Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

2Kings 10:20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.

2Chr. 7:9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.

Neh. 8:18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.

Is. 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

Joel 1:14 Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,

Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.

The second[34] refers to “solemn feasts,” “solemn assemblies,” or specific gatherings for worship as “solemnities”:

Num. 10:10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

Num. 15:3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:

Deut. 31:10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,

2Chr. 2:4 Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel.

2Chr. 8:13 Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.

Is. 33:20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.

Lam. 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.

Lam. 2:6 And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest.

Lam. 2:7 The Lord hath cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the LORD, as in the day of a solemn feast.

Lam. 2:22 Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about, so that in the day of the LORD’S anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.

Ezek. 36:38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.

Ezek. 45:17 And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.

Ezek. 46:9 But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it.

Ezek. 46:11 And in the feasts and in the solemnities the meat offering shall be an ephah to a bullock, and an ephah to a ram, and to the lambs as he is able to give, and an hin of oil to an ephah.

Hos. 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.

Hos. 9:5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?

Hos. 12:9 And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.

Zeph. 3:18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.

The third[35] similarly refers to “solemn feasts” or “solemnit[ies]”:

Deut. 16:15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.

Psa. 81:3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

Is. 30:29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.

Nah. 1:15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.

Mal. 2:3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.

Finally, Psalm 92:1-3 indicates that it is a good thing to praise the Lord, not in public worship only, but also in private, with a “solemn sound”[36]: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.” A “solemn sound” befits both the public worship of “the Sabbath day” for Israel (Ps 92 title) and the Lord’s Day for the church, and also the individual believer’s worship every morning and night (Ps 92:2).

IV. Reverent and Solemn Worship Befits the Character of the Church as God’s Earthly Temple and Befits the Access Saints Have into Heaven Itself

            Reverence and solemnity are also essential aspects of Biblical worship because the church, the assembly of baptized believers,[37] is the very temple of the living God. As God dwelt in the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, so does He dwell in each of His congregations now.[38] Each true church is “an holy temple in the Lord” and “the house of God,” each church member being a living stone in the special dwelling place of the Triune God (Eph 2:19; 1 Tim 3:15; 1 Pet 2:5; 1 Cor 3:11-15).[39] “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (Ps 114:7); “Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence[?]” (Jer 5:22). The Lord is a great King—He must be worshipped with reverence in His holy temple, the church. Those who fail to do so should fear, because God will destroy them: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy” (1 Cor 3:17). “Be wise now therefore . . . be instructed[.] . . . Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps 2:10-12).

            Not only is the church the earthly dwelling place and sacred temple of the living God, but also both the individual Christian and the corporate Christian assembly have access into heaven itself.[40] Heaven is a place of infinite holiness and reverence, and so the worship of the saints on earth must be solemn and reverent, a worship that befits their union with the worship of the saints in heaven. New Testament believers in their worship have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” that is, into “heaven itself” (Heb 10:19; 9:24). They “draw near . . . the holiest” (Heb 10:19, 22; cf. 12:22-23) through Christ and “have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph 2:18), entrance into the very heavenly presence of their holy and heavenly God and Father. Consider carefully the description of worship in Revelation 4-5:

1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. 4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. 1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Is not this inspired description of heavenly worship ineffably and immeasurably solemn, reverent, and holy? But the astonishing truth is that Revelation 4-5 depicts not the worship of heaven only, but that of earth also![41] When the saints open their mouths in praise and prayer, they are uniting with this holy and heavenly chorus of worship before Jehovah’s throne! How necessary, then, is the highest solemnity and reverence in the earthly worship of the people of God!

V. Applications of the Fact that Reverence and Solemnity

Are Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship

            The fact that reverence and solemnity are essential aspects of Biblical worship has tremendous consequences for the practices of Christ’s earthly congregations. First, it is evident that “worship” that is not solemn and reverent, but is superficial, foolish, thoughtless, vapid, flippant, trivial, and irreverent is in the highest degree offensive to God. The Father seeks for true worshippers, and “they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:23-24). Jehovah delights in His true children crying “Hosanna to the Son of David” in His temple (Mt 21:15), but those who do not worship Him in spirit and truth, but instead profane and defile His worship, He destroys (1 Cor 3:17). False worship is idolatry, and idolaters will be tormented with fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev 21:8). The Lord Jesus hated false worship so much that at both the beginning and end of His earthly ministry He violently drove out from the temple those that profaned the pure worship of the Father (Jn 2:13-17; Mt 21:12-17; Mr 11:15-18), so that “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:17). The Lord Jesus was so zealous for pure worship that He made a whip and beat out of His Father’s house those that defiled it (Jn 2:15). In this jealousy for holy worship Christ was in full agreement with His Father, who sent fire from heaven to burn up those that failed to worship properly (Lev 10:1-2), dealt in pitiless fury to slay utterly those that profaned His temple (Eze 8), and eternally torments in hell those who offer Him false worship (1 Cor 6:9-11; Rev 14:9-11; 21:8).

            The facts above are most relevant for those who are members of true churches—the kind the Lord Jesus started in the first century—historic Baptist churches.[42] Only such churches have the special presence of the holy Trinity in their midst (cf. Mt 18:17, 20). What fearful judgment such churches should expect from Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire if they corrupt pure worship (cf. Rev 2:5, 16, 20-23; 3:1-4, 14-18)! How necessary it is for their members to personally separate from all false worship, and for their congregations corporately to separate from all those who either corrupt or tolerate corrupt worship, whether the avowedly unregenerate or professing believers (1 Cor 5:6-13; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; 2 Thess 3:6, 14)! However, other religious organizations in Christendom, from the liturgical and hierarchical to the worldly mega-church, even though they do not possess the special presence of Christ found in His true congregations, nevertheless will face the judgment Christ will pour out on all idolaters. Therefore let all the world take heed to the Biblical mandate for reverent and solemn worship, and flee with horror from everything that deviates in the least from such worship.

Second, note that it is absolutely essential to have grace if you are to worship or serve God acceptably. Only through grace can you serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear—consequently, God commands you to have grace (Heb 12:28).[43] Your prayers and praise must be with grace in your heart if they are to be acceptable (Col 3:16). The only way of true access to the Father is through the Son and by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18; Col 3:17; 1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6), so if you are unconverted, you are utterly unable to worship God and offer Him true service. Only regenerate people will enter into the New Jerusalem to worship God forever and ever, and only regenerate people are those true worshippers that can worship the Father in spirit and truth now (Jn 4:23-24). They only have fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit (1 Jn 1:3; 2 Cor 13:14). If you are unconverted, you cannot please God in any way, you have no Mediator to bring you into the Father’s presence, no Spirit to assist you in your coming, and consequently you face the awful and immeasurable wrath of God against you for your sin in Adam, your sin nature, and your innumerable personal transgressions (cf. Rom 8:8-9; Tit 1:15-16). Ought you not immediately to turn from your sin and flee to Christ, that you might receive mercy through His blood, the imputation of His own perfect and everlasting righteousness to your account so that you can stand perfect before the legal tribunal of God, and the freedom from the bondage of sin under which you so awfully lie (Mr 1:15; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:1)?

            Are you regenerate? Then sensibly recognize, and all the more because your formerly blind eyes have been opened, and your formerly insensible heart of adamant has been softened, how necessary grace is for you to worship your Triune Redeemer acceptably! Do you not know by experience the truth of Paul’s statement: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom 7:21)? Do you not see your indwelling sin the more awfully active the more you seek to approach the Lord in true reverence and godly fear? Is it not especially active when you engage in your especially holy duties? How, then, can you worship the Lord in solemnity and reverence, when sin clings to even your most zealous and holy thoughts and deeds, so that you deserve nothing more than to be thrust into the depths of hell for the most holy act of worship you have ever done in your life? “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps 130:3). What, then, is the answer? Grace—“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Ps 130:4). You have in the Lord Jesus a perfect High Priest who bears the iniquity of your holy things, that you may be accepted before Jehovah (Ex 28:38).[44] Then let grace be of infinite sweetness to your soul, the rejoicing of your renewed heart, and your constant dependence in all your acts of personal and corporate worship before your Lord.

            What is more, you must not only be regenerate, but also have an upright heart, for if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear your prayers or accept your worship (Ps 66:18). As a believer, you are individually the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19-20), even as the corporate assembly is His temple also (1 Cor 3:15-20; 1 Tim 3:15). You must be a clean and holy temple if your individual worship is to be acceptable. You must individually be a clean and holy temple the whole week if your part of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is to be acceptable (Is 1:13-15). If you cannot lift up holy hands (1 Tim 2:8) because your hands are stained with sin, or stained with the blood of the unconverted to whom you refused to give the gospel (Ac 20:26-27; Eze 33:8), do you think the Lord will be pleased with your worship? Can you pray reverently to the King of heaven because you have a regenerate and upright heart?

Furthermore, the Biblical requirements of regeneration and uprightness limit who is to be set up as an example in public worship. Pastors, song leaders, choir members, and all others involved in any leadership capacity in the corporate worship of the holy Trinity must be regenerate and holy people, as both the song writers and worship leaders in the psalter were godly men such as David and Asaph.[45] Vocal or musical skill[46] is certainly valuable—to “play skilfully”[47] is a command alongside of “sing” (Ps 33:3; cf. 1 Chr 15:22; 2 Chr 34:12)[48]—but it is by no means sufficient. Holy and skilled men—not merely skilled men—are to lead the congregation of the saints in their worship.[49]

            Third, the lyrics of all songs offered to the Lord in His worship must be “the word of Christ” (Col 3:16). They must either be the perfect songs of the Psalter—every psalm, and every line of every psalm of which ought to be sung in the church of God—or hymns that are God’s Word in the same sense that proper preaching is the preaching of the Word.[50] Every uninspired hymn must accurately represent the content of Scripture.[51] Singing false doctrine is nothing less than to lie to God, and to do so in worship that has access into heaven itself. That every word of every hymn offered to God accurately represents the teachings of Scripture is no little matter. It is the difference between pleasing the holy and reverend King of glory and misrepresenting His nature, blaspheming His name, profaning His worship, and thus breaking the first four of the Ten Commandments. It is the difference between accurately representing the “honour of his name,” “mak[ing] his praise glorious,” and so bringing a blessing from heaven (Ps 66:2), and dishonoring His name or character, turning His praise into sacrilege, and bringing from heaven Jehovah’s wrath and curse. Do you offer God psalms and hymns that accurately represent who He is and so make His praise glorious?

            Fourth, it is clear that worship is not to conform to culture or to men’s desires, but is to be distinctly different, set apart, or holy.[52] Believers must regulate their praise by Scripture alone (Deut 12:32) and recognize that “strange fire” in worship is everything “which He commanded . . . not” (Lev 10:1)—whatever is not commanded in worship is forbidden.[53] The Lord warns His people not to be snared into looking at what the wicked do, and then saying, “even so will I do likewise” (Deut 12:30) in worship. On the contrary, Scriptural worship is to be distinctly set apart and different from that of heathen, unbelieving culture. Consequently, the “contemporary worship” philosophy—which is nothing less than taking the sound and style of this world system, which is under the control of Satan (Eph 2:1-3), and offering it to God—is an abomination in His holy sight. Musical styles created by the world to glorify the devil, lust, and every sort of wickedness—such as rock, jazz, blues, country-western, pop, and rap[54]—can by no means be acceptable to that holy King who demands purity, solemnity, and reverence in His worship. True church growth does not come by offering the Head of the church false worship, nor by turning the Father’s house into a house of merchandise through marketing and promotion techniques (Jn 2:16), but through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word as unified, holy, self-sacrificial disciples boldly preach the gospel to every creature. Consequently, pleasing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that heavenly fire and supernatural efficacy attend the proclamation of the gospel, will lead to far more genuine church growth than will blaspheming the Father and grieving the Spirit through false worship and man-made marketing techniques. Godly music will drive demons away and please the Holy Spirit, while ungodly music will summon demons and cause God the Holy Ghost to depart (1 Sam 16:23; cf. 2 Ki 3:15; 1 Chr 25:3). Do you regulate your worship by Scripture alone, and consequently reject all worldly and fleshly worship?

            Fifth, some musical styles and sounds are not appropriate because they are not reverent and solemn. The worship of the sanctuary is specified constantly as solemn and reverent praise of God, and never once designated as entertainment of men, children, or any other group.[55] Bozo the Clown playing a kazoo may be entertaining, but it is not solemn or reverent. Nor are the many songs written to entertain the young or the spiritually immature, rather than to offer God holy worship, solemn or reverent. Scripture never specifies a special category of “children’s music” which, allegedly exempt from the qualities of reverence and solemnity that accurately represent Jehovah, can simply be fun and frothy. Nor can honesty conclude that the solemn and majestic heavenly praise of Revelation 4-5 sounds like a country-western, Southern Gospel, or bluegrass hoedown. The overwhelmingly rural, simple, and country people that filled the land of Israel offered God in worship the profound, deep, and rich words of the Psalter with the “solemn sound” (Ps 92:3) that He commanded. Both the lyrics and style of music must accurately represent God—whether or not the holy worship of the sanctuary fits in with popular culture, or is attractive to the majority of the population, is an indication of whether a land is ripe for judgment or blessing, but not an indication of what God’s people should bring before the Holy One who rules in heaven. Is the music you offer to the Lord solemn and reverent?

            Sixth, the worship of the house of God is formal, not informal, in keeping with the holiness of Him whose house it is. The garments worn were modest, for the exposure of nakedness in the dwelling of the King could lead to immediate death (Ex 20:26; 28:42). Furthermore, the garments worn by the priests when they entered Jehovah’s presence were costly and formal, designed “for glory and for beauty”—they were the best that Israel had (Ex 28). Their apparel properly represented the reverend and holy One into whose presence they were coming. They did not wear the apparel appropriate for toiling in the fields (cf. Zech 3:5) when they appeared in the house of God. In the like manner the royal priesthood of the Lord’s blood-bought people should wear garments that are clean, modest, and formal in the sanctuary. Unkempt, dirty, or casual garments may be appropriate when repairing one’s car or cleaning a pigpen, but the reverence and solemnity appropriate for appearing in the presence of the dread King of heaven requires otherwise. The members of the Lord’s church make a statement of what they think about God when men come into His presence in neat suits and ties and women come in formal and modest dresses. When they do not fear to come into His presence dressed like hippies or hillbillies they likewise make a statement—one of lightness and irreverence. Do your clothes represent the reverence God requires of you both inwardly and outwardly?

Seventh, those who truly delight themselves in the Lord (Is 58:14) will consider the principles in Isaiah 58:13 on the Lord’s Day. The Master commands His people, “turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and . . . honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Those who revere their holy Redeemer will set apart the entire Lord’s Day for His glory, not only one hour every Sunday morning. As they will honor the entire Lord’s Day, they will be especially careful to guard themselves when they enter the house of God, recognizing that they are entering a holy place (Ecc 5:1).[56] They will get to church on time—indeed, they will arrive early. Because they long to come into the presence of God, they will do whatever is in their power to never miss services (Ps 42:1-2), that they might see His power and glory in His sanctuary (Ps 63:1-2). They will be very quick to hear and obey the preached Word (Jam 1:19-24), knowing that Jehovah looks to the believer who has a poor and contrite spirit and who trembles at His Word (Is 66:2). They will sing with reverence and grace in their hearts to the Lord. They will approach the Lord in corporate prayer with the solemn gravity due to His exalted majesty and with a deep awareness of and humble repentance for their own sinfulness—a practice that they will maintain also in private and in family prayer. They will not say Amen flippantly, but say it solemnly and reverently, considering its signification as an address to God.[57] They will speak words of godly edification one to another instead of discussing the vanities of the world, as people who know that the Lord hearkens and hears them, and records their words in His book of remembrance (Heb 10:24-25; Mal 3:16). They will take with extreme seriousness their identification in baptism with the name or character of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Mt 28:19) and be scrupulous and careful to participate in the communion ordinance worthily, recognizing it for what it is—the holy memorial and remembrance of their Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:29). They will honor Him by treating His Person, Word, and worship with weightiness instead of flippancy and lightness.[58] Those who delight in the Lord in this manner show Him solemn reverence. Do you do so?


Arnold, Richard, The English Hymn: Studies in a Genre, New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 1995.

Attridge, Harold W. & Helmut Koester, The Epistle to the Hebrews: a Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1989.

Bauer, Walter, Frederick W. Danker, & William, Arndt, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed (BDAG). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Biblia Sacra Juxta Vulgatam Clementinam (Clementine Vulgate). Elec. ed. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005.

Bonar, Andrew A., Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms. New York, NY: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860.

Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, & Charles Augustus Briggs, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon, 1906.

Brakel, Wilhelmus á, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 4 vol. Trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007.

Cloud, David, Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2014.

Cloud, David, Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library, ver. 5.1. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2009.

Craigie, Peter C., & Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 1-50. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

Dabney, Robert L, Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Evangelical, ed. C. R. Vaughan, vol. 2. Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1891.

DeHaan, M. R., The Tabernacle. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1955.

Graves, J. R., ed., The New Baptist Psalmist and Tune Book, for Churches and Sunday-Schools. Memphis, TN: Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1873.

Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L, Archer Jr., & Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999.

Holy Bible, The, Authorized, King James Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2009.

Holy Bible, The, Translated from the Latin Vulgate (Douay-Rheims). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009.

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Faussett, & David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

Jennings, A. C., & Lowe, W. H., The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes, vol. 1, 2nd ed. London: Macmillan and Co., 1884.

Kittel, Gerhard, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, & Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964.

Liddell, H. G. & R. Scott, Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Louw, Johannes P. & Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996.

Moffatt, James, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1924.

Nettleton, Asahel, Village Hymns for Social Worship. New York, NY: E. Sands, 1827.

Noble, W. F. P., A Century of Gospel-Work: A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the United States, 1776-1876. Philadelphia, PA: H. C. Watts, 1876.

Owen, John, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. W. H. Goold, in Works of John Owen, vol. 24, Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1854.

Owen, John, “The Nature and Beauty of Gospel Worship,” ed. W. H. Goold, in Works of John Owen, vol. 9, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, n. d., 53-83, Elec. acc.

Pickering, William, ed., New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, Ebraious. Elec. acc.


Scottish Psalter, The, ed. Free Church of Scotland. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1887.

Spurgeon, Charles H., Our Own Hymn-Book: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social, and Private Worship. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1866.

Strong, James, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009.

Thayer, Henry, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978 (reprint ed.).

Trench, Richard Chenevix, Synonyms of the New Testament. London: Macmillan and Co., 1880.

Wallace, Daniel, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Watts, Isaac, The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of Isaac Watts. Boston, MA: Crocker & Brewster, 1834.

[1]              In the Old Testament, 2 Samuel 9:6; 1 Ki 1:31 & Esth 3:2, 5 also contain the English word reverence, in each case containing a form of the verb hÎwSjA;tVvIh, meaning “to worship” God or “to bow down” with reference to men, a sign of respect given especially those in authority such as kings.

[2]              Pastors and other mere mortals should not have “Rev.” by their name, for God’s Name is reverend, while the name of Parson Jones, Bishop John, or Pastor Jim is not.

[3]              latreu/w, “to perform religious rites as a part of worship — ‘to perform religious rites, to worship, to venerate, worship’” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Johannes P. Louw & Albert Nida. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996 [Louw-Nida]). The complete list of NT texts is: Matt 4:10; Luke 1:74; 2:37; 4:8; Acts 7:7, 42; 24:14; 26:7; 27:23; Rom 1:9, 25; Phil 3:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Heb 8:5; 9:9, 14; 10:2; 12:28; 13:10; Rev 7:15; 22:3.

[4]              eujare÷stwß, “in a manner well-pleasing to one, acceptably” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Henry Thayer. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978 [reprint ed.]; [Thayer]), an adverb related to euja¿restoß, “pleasing, acceptable” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. [BDAG]. Walter Bauer, Frederick W. Danker & William Arndt. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000; see Rom 12:1–2; 14:18; 2 Cor 5:9; Eph 5:10; Phil 4:18; Col 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21) and the verb eujareste÷w, “1. to do someth[ing] or act in a manner that is pleasing or satisfactory, please, be pleasing . . . 2. to experience pleasure, be pleased, take delight” (BDAG; see Heb 11:5–6; 13:16). Compare eujare÷sthsiß, “the experience of being pleased because of what another does, being pleased” (BDAG). Note the significant frequency of the eujareste÷w word group in connection to worship.

[5]              v∂;dVqIm, from, våd∂q, hence “holy place.”

[6]           :h`DOwh◊y y™InSa …waó∂ryI;t y™Iv∂;dVqIm…w …wr$OmVvI;t y∞AtOtV;bAv_tRa

[7]              Leviticus 19:30 and 26:2 are identical in Hebrew.

[8]              aérÎy, “to fear God . . . to tremble for, to honor” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Francis Brown, Samuel R. Driver, & Augustus Charles. Oxford: Clarendon, 1906. [BDB]). The Niphal, found in Psalm 89:7, means “to be feared, be honoured (God) . . . dreaded . . . awesome, terrible” (BDB). The rest of the paragraph in the text above lists the other instances of the Niphal of the Hebrew verb Psalm 89:7 renders as reverence; it is usually translated with some form of fear, terror, or dread.

[9]              XårDo, “cause to tremble, tremble (in terror, or awe)” (BDB). The verb is found in: Deut 1:29; 7:21; 20:3; 31:6; Josh 1:9; Is 2:19, 21; 8:12–13; 29:23; 47:12; Ps 10:18; 89:8; Job 13:25; 31:34.

[10]            e˙ntre÷pw. It appears in the NT in: Matt 21:37; Mark 12:6; Luke 18:2, 4; 20:13; 1 Cor 4:14; 2 Th 3:14; Titus 2:8; Heb 12:9. The related noun e˙ntroph/ appears in 1 Cor 6:5; 15:34.

[11]            BDAG.

[12]            Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed., G. H. Liddell & R. Scott. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996 (LSJ).

[13]            Louw-Nida.

[14]            BDAG.

[15]            Thayer.

[16]            Louw-Nida.

[17]            § xix. ai˙scu/nh, ai˙dw¿ß, e˙ntroph/, Synonyms of the New Testament, Richard Chenevix Trench. London: Macmillan and Co., 1880 (Trench).

[18]            latreu/w— see footnote #3.

[19]          ai˙dw¿ß. The reading of the Textus Receptus is meta» ai˙douvß kai« eujlabei÷aß, with over 90% of Greek MSS support, including K L 462 syrhkl Chrys. Thdt., while the use of ai˙dw¿ß instead of the Nestle-Aland reading de÷oß is also supported by a2 D2 M P Ψ 6 104 326 614 945 1739 1881 2495 lat Orig, among other witnesses. The reading meta» eujlabei÷aß kai« de÷ouß of the Nestle-Aland Greek text, which follows c. 3% of MSS, is clearly inferior. The fact that de÷oß, a hapax legomenon in the Nestle-Aland text of Heb 12:28 which is entirely absent in the Textus Receptus, is never employed in the LXX of the appropriate attitude of the people of God toward Jehovah but is repeatedly used of the abject fear of the wicked toward God as their Judge (2 Mac 3:17, 30; 12:22; 13:16; 15:23) does not inspire confidence in the minority text. Compare pg. 383, The Epistle to the Hebrews: a Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Harold W. Attridge & Helmut Koester. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1989; pg. 223, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, James Moffatt. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1924; New Majority Greek Text Based on Original Text Theory, Ebraious, ed. Wilbur Pickering. Elec. acc.

[20]            Louw-Nida.

[21]            Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Kittel, Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, & Gerhard Friedrich, eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964 (TDNT).

[22]            eujla¿beia, found only in Hebrews 5:7; 12:28.

[23]            fobe÷w.

[24]            BDAG.

[25]            eujlabh/ß. See BDAG, LSJ.

[26]            § xlviii. qeosebh/ß, eujsebh/ß, eujlabh/ß, qrhvskoß, deisidai÷mwn, Trench.

[27]            eujlabe÷omai. The word is found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 23:10.

[28]            BDAG.

[29]            Pg. 376, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, John Owen, ed. W. H. Goold, in Works of John Owen, vol. 24, Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1854.

[30]            eujare÷stwß.

[31]            See BDAG on the related adjective euja¿restoß, the references to which are listed above. In Hebrews 12:28 eujare÷stwß is a hapax legomenon. Note also the verb eujareste÷w, found in Heb 11:5-6; 13:16.

[32]            In Genesis 43:3 the verb “to protest,” intensified with the infinitive absolute, is rendered “solemnly protest” (·dIoEh d∞EoDh); the KJV margin reads “protesting protested.” A similar use appears in 1 Samuel 8:9’s “protest solemnly” (‹dyIoD;t d§EoDh). These two texts are the only ones other than those referenced below that employ a form of solemn in the KJV.

[33]            The Hebrew noun h∂rDxSo is employed in these verses. The word occurs in the Hebrew OT in Lev 23:36; Num 29:35; Deut 16:8; 2 Kings 10:20; Is 1:13; Jer 9:1; Joel 1:14; 2:15; Amos 5:21; Neh 8:18; 2 Chr 7:9. For support and a possible explanation for the development of the meaning of “solemn, sacred assembly” for h∂rDxSo, see pg. 691, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, Jr., & Bruce Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999).

Note also that in 2 Kings 10:20 the assembly Jehu proclaimed for the purpose of exterminating the worshippers of Baal employed the “solemn assembly” language in allusion to the Scripture language employed of the feasts of Jehovah. On the days of solemn assemblies to the true God work was not to be done, so proclaiming a day of solemn assembly to Baal would give the worshippers of the idol the leisure to attend to Jehu’s command and consequently be exterminated. To assume that the worship of Baal was genuinely solemn, as the worship of Jehovah truly was, would be an invalid assumption. However, it is nonetheless true that false worship can have a kind of solemnity to it while rejecting other essential features of true worship—such as, for worshippers of Baal, recognizing the true God as the One who must receive worship.

[34]            The Hebrew noun dEowøm is employed in these verses. The word occurs in the Hebrew OT in Gen 1:14; 17:21; 18:14; 21:2; Ex 9:5; 13:10; 23:15; 27:21; 28:43; 29:4, 10–11, 30, 32, 42, 44; 30:16, 18, 20, 26, 36; 31:7; 33:7; 34:18; 35:21; 38:8, 30; 39:32, 40; 40:2, 6–7, 12, 22, 24, 26, 29–30, 32, 34–35; Lev 1:1, 3, 5; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:4–5, 7, 14, 16, 18; 6:16, 26, 30; 8:3–4, 31, 33, 35; 9:5, 23; 10:7, 9; 12:6; 14:11, 23; 15:14, 29; 16:7, 16–17, 20, 23, 33; 17:4–6, 9; 19:21; 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 24:3; Num 1:1; 2:2, 17; 3:7–8, 25, 38; 4:3–4, 15, 23, 25, 28, 30–31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 47; 6:10, 13, 18; 7:5, 89; 8:9, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26; 9:2–3, 7, 13; 10:3, 10; 11:16; 12:4; 14:10; 15:3; 16:2, 18–19, 42–43, 50; 17:4; 18:4, 6, 21–23, 31; 19:4; 20:6; 25:6; 27:2; 28:2; 29:39; 31:54; Deut 16:6; 31:10, 14; Josh 8:14; 18:1; 19:51; Jud 20:38; 1 Sam 2:22; 9:24; 13:8, 11; 20:35; 2 Sam 20:5; 24:15; 1 Kings 8:4; 2 Kings 4:16–17; Is 1:14; 14:13; 33:20; Jer 8:7; 46:17; Eze 36:38; 44:24; 45:17; 46:9, 11; Hos 2:9, 11; 9:5; 12:9; Hab 2:3; Zech 3:18; Zech 8:19; Ps 74:4, 8; 75:2; 102:13; 104:19; Job 30:23; Lam 1:4, 15; 2:6–7, 22; Dan 8:19; 11:27, 29, 35; 12:7; Ezra 3:5; Neh 10:33; 1 Chr 6:32; 9:21; 23:31–32; 2 Chr 1:3, 6, 13; 2:4; 5:5; 8:13; 30:22; 31:3.

Note the rendering of dEowøm in various texts in the Vulgate; e. g., in 2 Chr 2:4 the “solemn feasts of the LORD our God” is rendered as solemnitatibus Domini Dei nostri, in Is 33:20 “the city of our solemnities” is civitatem solemnitatis nostræ, in Lam 1:4, “solemn feasts” is solemnitatem; in Lam 2:7 “solemn feast” is solemni; in Eze 36:38 “solemn feasts” is solemnitatibus; in Eze 45:17, “solemnities of the house of Israel” is solemnitatibus domus Israël; see also Eze 46:9, 11, Hos 9:5, etc.

Note also that dEowøm, because of its fundamental meaning of “appointed time, place, or meeting” (BDB) and its derivation from dAoDy, “to appoint,” supports the Regulative Principle of worship, namely, that whatever is not commanded in Scriptural worship is forbidden. See for further information on the Regulative Principle as a crucial Biblical teaching.

[35]            Deut 16:15 employs the verb gÅgDj, while Ps 81:3; Is 30:29; Nah 1:15; Mal 2:3 employ the noun gAj. The verb occurs in the Hebrew OT in Ex 5:1; 12:14; 23:14; Lev 23:39, 41; Num 29:12; Deut 16:15; 1 Sam 30:16; Nah 1:15; Zech 14:16, 18–19; Ps 42:4; 107:27. The noun occurs in the Hebrew OT in Ex 10:9; 12:14; 13:6; 23:15–16, 18; 32:5; 34:18, 22, 25; Lev 23:6, 34, 39, 41; Num 28:17; 29:12; Deut 16:10, 13–14, 16; 31:10; Jud 21:19; 1 Kings 8:2, 65; 12:32–33; Is 29:1; 30:29; Eze 45:17, 21, 23, 25; 46:11; Hos 2:11; 9:5; Amos 5:21; 8:10; Nah 1:15; Zech 14:16, 18–19; Mal 2:3; Ps 81:3; 118:27; Ezra 3:4; 6:22; Neh 8:14, 18; 2 Chr 5:3; 7:8–9; 8:13; 30:13, 21; 35:17. The Latin Vulgate renders gAj as “solemnity,” solemnitas, in texts such as 2 Chr 7:9; Neh 8:18; Ps 81:3 (Lat. 80:4); Is 30:29; Eze 45:17; Hos 2:11; Mal 2:3, etc.

[36]            NwøyÎ…gIh. The noun occurs in the OT in Ps 9:16; 19:14; 92:3; Lam 3:62. The idea of “meditation,” not in the Eastern mystical sense but in the Biblical sense of active thinking about God, is also found in the word (cf. Ps 9:16; 19:14; Lam 3:62). Biblical music is both solemn in sound and of a sort that encourages active use of the mind in thinking on the character of the Lord. Concerning the solemnity idea in NwøyÎ…gIh here, note: “NwøyÎ…gIh . . . a musical notation (prob. similar to the modern affettuoso to indicate solemnity of movement) . . . solemn sound” (pg. 32, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, James Strong. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009). “Kimchi . . . explains higgâyôn to be ‘the melody of the hymn when played on the harp’” (pg. 44, The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes, vol. 1, 2nd ed., A. C. Jennings and W. H. Lowe. London: Macmillan and Co., 1884). “Higgaion . . . means ‘meditation,’ and, combined with Selah, seems to denote a pause of unusual solemnity and emphasis” (Note on Ps 9:16, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). “Higgaion . . . befits the solemn theme” (pg. 116, Psalms 1-50, Peter C. Craigie & Marvin E. Tate. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983). “Higgaion, a call to deep reflection or solemn musing . . . [in Psalm 92:3] הִגָּיוֹן [is] ‘solemn heart-musing’ to accompany the harp. For this seems the only plain sense of NwâøyÎ…gIh y™ElSo. It is upon the heart-strings, so to speak, as well as harp-strings” (pgs. 33, 278-279, Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms, Andrew A. Bonar. New York, NY: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860).

[37]            The texts that refer to the church as the Lord’s Temple do not refer to a universal, invisible “church” but to the visible congregation of the saints; cf. “A Word Study Demonstrating the Meaning of the Word Church, Ekklesia, and Consequently the Nature of the New Testament Church” at

[38]            That is, each assembly is not just the hieron, but the naos of God:

Naos, naou, ho (naioœ to dwell), the Septuagint for he®kaœl, used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of holies (in classical Greek used of the sanctuary or cell of a temple, where the image of the god was placed, called also domos, seœkos, which is to be distinguished from to hieron, the whole temple, the entire consecrated enclosure; this distinction is observed also in the Bible; see hieron, p. 299a) . . . used specifically of the Holy place, where the priests officiated: Luke 1:9,21f; of the Holy of holies . . . Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; in the visions of the Revelation used of the temple of the “New Jerusalem”: Rev. 3:12; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15,17; 15:5f,8; 16:1,17; . . . metaphorically, of a company of Christians, a Christian church, as dwelt in by the Spirit of God: 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; for the same reason, of the bodies of Christians, 1 Cor. 6:19. [O]f the body of Christ . . . John 2:21, and according to the Evangelist’s interpretation in 19 also. . . . [T]o hieron and ho naos differ, in that the former designates the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, embracing the entire aggregate of buildings, balconies, porticos, courts (viz., that of the men or Israelites, that of the women, that of the priests), belonging to the temple; the latter designates the sacred edifice properly so called, consisting of two parts, the “sanctuary” or “Holy place” (which no one except the priests was allowed to enter), and the “Holy of holies” or “most holy place” . . . which was entered only on the great day of atonement by the high priest alone. (Thayer on nao/ß and i˚ero/n)

ÔIero/n (=templum) is the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, the te÷menoß, including the outer courts, the porches, porticoes, and other buildings subordinated to the temple itself; ai˚oi˙kodomai« touv i˚erouv (Matt. xxiv. 1.) But nao/ß (=‘aedes’), from nai÷w, ‘habito,’ as the proper habitation of God (Acts vii. 48; xvii. 24; 1 Cor. vi. 19); the oi•koß touv qeouv (Matt. xii. 4; cf. Exod. xxiii. 19), the German “duom” or “domus,” is the temple itself, that by especial right so called, being the heart and centre of the whole; the Holy, and the Holy of Holies, called often aJgi÷asma (1 Macc. i. 37; 45). This distinction, one that existed and was acknowledged in profane Greek and with reference to heathen temples, quite as much as in sacred Greek and with relation to the temple of the true God (see Herodotus. i. 183; Thucydides, iv. 90 [ta¿fon me«n ku/klwˆ peri« to\ i˚ero\n kai« to\n new»n e¶skapton]; v.18; Acts xxix. 24, 27), is, I believe, always assumed in all passages relating to the temple at Jerusalem, alike by Josephus, by Philo, by the Septuagint translators, and in the N. T. (§ iii, i˚ero/n, nao/ß, Trench)

[39]            The “house of God” is terminology for the special dwelling place of God in His place of corporate worship, and is overwhelmingly temple terminology (Gen 28:17; Jud 18:31; 20:18, 26, 31; 21:2; 1 Chr 6:48; 9:11, 13, 26–27; 22:2; 23:28; 24:5; 25:6; 26:20; 28:12, 21; 29:7; 2 Chr 3:3; 4:11, 19; 5:1, 14; 7:5; 15:18; 22:12; 23:3, 9; 24:7, 13, 27; 25:24; 28:24; 31:13, 21; 33:7; 34:9; 35:8; 36:18–19; Ezra 1:4; 2:68; 3:8–9; 4:24; 5:2, 13–17; 6:3, 5, 7–8, 12, 16–17, 22; 7:24; 8:36; 10:1, 6, 9; Neh 6:10; 8:16; 11:11, 16, 22; 12:40; 13:7, 9, 11; Ps 42:4; 52:8; 55:14; Eccl 5:1; Dan 1:2; 5:3; Zech 7:2; Matt 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4; 1 Tim 3:15; Heb 10:21; 1 Pet 4:17).

[40]            Note the tremendous presentation of this Biblical truth by John Owen in “The Nature and Beauty of Gospel Worship,” The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 9, 53-83, elec. acc.

[41]            Without getting into a detailed exposition of Revelation 4-5, the unity of Old and New Testament saints pictured in the 24 elders, the specific references in the chapters to the unity of this heavenly worship with that on the earth (5:13-14), and the agreement of the rest of Scripture that the saints on earth enter into heaven itself in their worship (Eph 2:18; Heb 9-10) make the unity of heavenly and earthly worship indubitable.

[42]            See “Bible Study #7: The Church of Jesus Christ” at, and also the resources at for the identifying marks of true churches.

[43]            That is, “let us have grace” is a hortatory subjunctive, which “is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided” (pg. 464, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace), and which consequently bears an imperatival notion—for only through grace can men worship acceptably with reverence and godly fear: e¶cwmen ca¿rin, di∆ h∞ß latreu/wmen eujare÷stwß twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊ meta» ai˙douvß kai« eujlabei÷aß.

[44]            Cf. “Christ our High Priest, Bearing the Iniquity of our Holy Things,” Horatius Bonar (

[45]            All of the psalms were written by “holy men of God” (2 Pet 1:21). Does this fact teach the church that she should not sing hymns composed by unregenerate and wicked men, any more than churches should have the sermons of such men read from their pulpits? David Cloud notes:

All of . . . [the] influential contemporary worship musicians are radically ecumenical and the vast majority are charismatic in theology. . . . All are enemies of a separatist Biblicist stance. . . . Contemporary Christian Music is a jungle of end-time apostasy . . . led by “another spirit” (2 Cor. 11:4). . . . There is something deeply and inherently wrong with music that is comfortable in the midst of the most wretched heresy and apostasy. And that is exactly where Contemporary Christian Worship is most at home. (pgs. 1-2, Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, David Cloud. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life, 2014)

[46]            Indeed, if choir or individual “special music” cannot be done skillfully, it ought not to be done at all. In any case, congregational singing in the church—which is far easier to justify from the commands of Scripture than having one or a few sing and the rest listen—is at the very least equally “special music” to such solos, duets, and choral singing. Indeed, in light of the ease with which one can fail to personally offer the words of such music to the Lord while listening to it, the argument can with much greater ease be made that congregational song is definitively more special than “special music.” Simply playing music without words in worship, even if the sound itself meets Biblical criteria, cannot be justified in the assemblies of the Lord—none of the psalms, and nothing else in Scripture, provides warrant for instrumentation without words in the worship of God (short musical interludes between sections of a song with words being a justifiable exception with exegetical support from the signification of Selah, [hDlRs, LXX, dia¿yalma, “musical interlude” (LSJ)] Ps 3, 4, 7, 9, etc.)

                It is important to note that the singing of solos in the church of God is a recent practice popularized by D. L. Moody’s associate Mr. Sankey:

Mr. Sankey’s . . . solo singing in public worship is quite a new thing . . . The words are plain and pleasant, but nothing extraordinary; often not to be compared to those of our well-known church hymns. The music is generally pretty and pleasant, but little more” (pgs. 475-476, A Century of Gospel-Work: A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the United States, W. F. P. Noble. [Philadelphia, PA: H. C. Watts, 1876])

The innovations of Moody and Sankey were not received without opposition; for example, the great Southern theologian R. L. Dabney, discussing both the newness of solo singing in the evangelical church and the reduction in theological content in Sankey, noted:

We conclude with a word touching the office of Mr. Sankey, “singing the gospel.” The Jewish temple service had its chief singer. It will be a curious result if [Moody and Sankey’s] modern movement should develop this function into a new and prominent branch of the ministry unauthorized by the New Testament. Singing is unquestionably a scriptural means of grace, and good singing is a very efficient one. But in order that the church may retain the blessing of good singing, the privilege which Mr. Sankey and his imitators claim, of importing their own lyrics into God’s worship, must be closely watched. . . . The most that can be said of Mr. Sankey’s developments . . . is . . . that they exhibit no worse traits than a marked inferiority of matter and style to the established hymnals of the leading churches. The most danger thus far apparent is that of habituating the taste of Christians to a very vapid species of pious doggerel, containing the most diluted possible traces of saving truth, in portions suitable to the most infantile faculties supplemented with a jingle of “vain repetitions.” What shall we gain by giving our people these ephemeral rhymes in place of the immortal lyrics of Moses, David, Isaiah, Watts, and Cowper, so grand in their rhythm and melody, so pure in taste, and above all, so freighted with compact and luminous truth? “The old wine is better.” (Pgs. 94-95, Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Evangelical, Robert L. Dabney, ed. C. R. Vaughan, vol. 2. [Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1891].)

[47]            NG´…gÅnŒ …wby¶IfyEh, “Do well in playing a stringed instrument.”

[48]            It is noteworthy that the specific commands for skill are for those leading in singing (1 Chr 15:22) and those playing instruments (2 Chr 34:12; Ps 33:3). In congregational song every person is to sing, whether he has a good voice and vocal talent or not.

[49]            What place, then, can unconverted and ungodly children have in a “children’s choir” that is set before the church? How can those who are not holy because they are yet unconverted—and who are not skilled because they are children—lead the church in worship? Such children may be cute and funny as they sing out of tune, and having them sing before the congregation may get parents who themselves hate the Lord Jesus but care about their children to visit services. But are cuteness and funniness a substitute for obedience to the regulations of worship set forth by the holy Head of the church?

[50]            Note the resources on psalmody and hymnody at

[51]            Classic Baptist hymn writers were extremely careful to ground the statements of their hymns in Scripture. For example, Benjamin Wallin (1711-1782) in his Evangelical Songs and Hymns of 1750 annotated every stanza and virtually every line with copious references to Scripture, believing that “Care should be taken that they [the hymns] be perfectly agreeable to the Holy Testaments” (pg. 47, Arnold, The English Hymn). He followed, in this method of annotation, Baptist Joseph Stennett (1663-1713), who had acted similarly in his hymnal, although not as profusely. The New Baptist Psalmist and Tune Book edited by the famous Landmark Baptist J. R. Graves stated: “Particular attention has been paid to the doctrinal sentiments of the Hymns. . . . In this collection there will be found no hymns that teach the doctrine of baptismal remission or ritual efficacy, no praises to be sung to dead relatives or friends, nor are children taught to pray to the angels, or to desire to be angels. . . . What we sing in our worship should agree with the doctrine we preach and profess” (pg. 3).

                Furthermore, while hymns with choruses are not wrong, as Psalm 136 has a refrain, the vast majority of the psalms—like the vast majority of old hymns—have no chorus. The introduction of hymns with consistently repeated refrains around the second half of the 19th century grew, not out of a careful study of Scripture on worship, but out of a desire to make songs that children would easily find attractive. These children’s songs then found their way into the corporate worship of the whole church body:

The material that accomplished that purpose we call gospel songs, sometimes “gospel hymns” . . . grew out of Sunday School music . . . a new type of song . . . with a catchy, easily remembered melody, simple harmony and rhythm, and always a refrain. It should not surprise us that when those Sunday School children reached adulthood, they were ready listeners for more songs with much the same musical characteristics. . . . Dwight Moody (1837–99) and singer Ira Sankey (1840–1908) popularized [such music for adults]. (pgs. 111-112, Mr Moody and the Evangelical Tradition, Timothy George. New York, NY: T & T Clark, 2004)

Whenever singing a song with a regular refrain, extra effort must be made to be sure that one is closely paying attention to, wholeheartedly meaning, and offering to the Lord the words every time they are sung.

What is more, since the psalms not only glory in the Lord’s salvation (Ps 9:14; 13:5) but also regularly warn of hell and judgment (Ps 9:17; 11:6; 55:15), and the imprecatory psalms prophesy of the awful judgments which will fall upon the ungodly (Ps 69:22-28; 137:7-9), so modern hymnals likewise must sing not only of heaven but also of hell and judgment. A hymnal such as Asahel Nettleton’s Village Hymns for Social Worship does well to have extensive numbers of hymns not on heaven alone, but also on judgment and the eternal damnation of the wicked. Hymns such as the following ought to be sung:

                All ye who laugh and sport with death,

                                And say, there is no hell;

                The gasp of your expiring breath

                                Will send you there to dwell.

                When iron slumbers bind your flesh,

                                With strange surprise you’ll find

                Immortal vigor spring afresh,

                                And tortures wake the mind!

                Then you’ll confess, the frightful names

                                Of plagues, you scorn’d before,

                No more shall look like idle dreams,

                                Like foolish tales no more.

                Then shall ye curse that fatal day,

                                With flames upon your tongues,

                When you exchang’d your souls away

                                For vanity and songs. (Village Hymns, #30)

When the unconverted heard the “new song” of the Psalter their reaction was not enjoyment, but “fear” (Ps 40:3d), and only as a result of such fear do they come to trust in the Lord (Ps 40:3e). Ungodly men are not converted because they enjoy hearing Christian music—they are converted because a miraculous Divine work has been done in their hearts by the Sovereign God through the hearing of the Word (Rom 10:17). If the unregenerate are not afraid and convicted of their sin when they attend the worship of the saints, but instead find a relish for it in their carnal hearts, something is very wrong.

Finally, since the psalter has no special section of dumbed-down psalms for children, little ones ought to be taught to sing hymns that have the rich content that the youth in Israel sang in their inspired songbook.

[52]            After all, the root idea of the sanctify/holy (vdq/a‚gioß) word groups in the Old and New Testaments is to be set apart, to be distinctly different.

[53]            That is, the Regulative Principle of worship, concerning which see

[54]            Musicians, marketers, and students of these types of music know that their songs are ungodly and against Jesus Christ and the Bible. Rock stars and those who study such music openly declare that its goal is “to change one set of values to another … free minds … free dope … free bodies … free music” (The Rolling Stone Interviews, 1971). “Rock music . . . is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic and anti-morality” (John Lennon). “‘Rock-and-roll,’ itself a blues-music term for sex, suggested rebellion and abandon as much as it did a new style of music when it first jarred adult sensibilities in the 1950s” (U.S. News & World Report, October 28, 1985). “If any music has been guilty by association, it is rock music. It would be impossible to make a complete list, but here are a few of the ‘associates’ of rock: drug addicts, revolutionaries, rioters, Satan worshippers, drop-outs, draft-dodgers, homosexuals and other sex deviates, rebels, juvenile criminals, Black Panthers and White Panthers, motorcycle gangs, blasphemers, suicides, heathenism, voodooism, phallixism, Communism in the United States (Communist Russia outlawed rock music around 1960), paganism, lesbianism, immorality, demonology, promiscuity, free love, free sex, disobedience (civil and uncivil), sodomy, venereal disease, discotheques, brothels, orgies of all kinds, night clubs, dives, strip joints, filthy musicals such as ‘Hair’ and ‘Uncle Meat’; and on and on the list could go almost indefinitely” (Frank Garlock, The Big Beat). “Sex, violence, rebellion—it’s all part of rock ‘n’ roll” (John Mellencamp, Larson’s Book of Rock). “Rock ‘n’ Roll . . . is . . . demonic. . . . A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true . . . I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious” (Little Richard). “[T]he sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations [of music] like candomble, santeria, and vodun [demonic religion] . . . and out of this . . . came jazz, the blues, the backbeat, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll—some of the most powerful rhythms on the planet. . . . It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition—rock and roll—did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods [demons]” (Mickey Hart, drummer for The Grateful Dead). “Pop music revolves around sexuality. I believe that if there is anarchy, let’s make it sexual anarchy rather than political” (Adam Ant, From Rock to Rock). “Many rock performers grew up with country and western music, and its characteristic forms and sounds are close to the ensemble sound of rock—instrumental combinations and techniques are closely parallel. . . . The division between country-and-western and urban pop has now blurred almost to vanishing” (William J. Schafer, Rock Music). “As a country artist, I’m not proud of a lot of things in my field. There is no doubt in my mind that we are contributing to the moral decline in America” (Jacob Aranza, More Rock Country). “The overwhelming theme of country music is triangle relationships. In addition, lost loves, broken homes, and the glorification of liquor frequently pervade the lyrics of the songs” (David Cloud). “The origin of the word ‘jazz’ is most often traced back to a vulgar term used for sexual acts. Some of the early sounds of jazz were associated with whore houses and ‘ladies of ill repute’” (http://www.jazzhistory/introduction). “‘Jazz’ (also called ‘jass’ in its early days), like ‘rock and roll’ a couple of generations later, had its origins as a slang term for sex; the word’s risqué roots no doubt boosted its popularity in that age-old search by hormonal, rebellious young people looking for edgy, exciting new ways to express themselves and, if at all possible, worry their parents as well” (Larry Nager, Memphis Beat). For more information, and original sources for these quotations, see “The Character of Rock and Roll Music,” “Country Music,” “Is There a Connection Between Rock Music and Voodoo or African Paganism?” “Jazz,” and other articles on music in the database at, published by Way of Life Literature. Quotes above are taken from the Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library, ed. David Cloud. London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Church/Way of Life Literature, 2003).

[55]            M. R. DeHaan wrote:

Remember also that the bread on the table with the frankincense was the only thing placed upon the table [in the Tabernacle] as the food of the priests. . . . [A]ll that is necessary for faith and life . . . [t]he sustaining food of the believer . . . is the Word of God, both the living Wor[d] and the written Word . . . [with] the frankincense, the Holy Spirit. . . . There were no sauces and spices and pickles and olives and fancy salads or pie à la mode; just bread. We have drifted far, far away from this simple formula today. Instead of believers coming together to fellowship around the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, without all the extraneous paraphernalia, and just to feed on His Word, we have too often turned our services into a carnival. The Word has been pushed aside into a secondary place. Instead, we have an hour and a half of preliminaries, with singing of silly choruses and empty spirituals, and joking and laughing and horseplay. Entertainment has taken the place of worship . . . [and] preaching. . . . [Finally we have] a fifteen-minute sermonette, highly spiced and sensational, in order to keep people awake after all of the wearying entertainment. And then we wonder at the worldliness and the shallowness of Christians today. We have added pickles, olives, radishes, and highly seasoned extras, and have relegated the Word of Life to a side dish, which few will touch. . . . The assembly of the saints should be first of all a time of worship and devotion and feeding and feasting upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and not a matter of shallow entertainment. (pg. 94, The Tabernacle, M. R. DeHaan. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1955)

[56]            The idea behind the command, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God” (Ecc 5:1), is “[i]n going to worship, go with considerate, circumspect, reverent feeling. The allusion is to the taking off the shoes, or sandals, in entering a temple” (JFB) as a place that is holy ground (Ex 3:5; Josh 5:15).

[57]            Brakel explains:

Amen is a Hebrew word which means truth. Sometimes it is used singularly, and sometimes it is repeated: Amen and Amen. At times it is used singularly and at times with an addition: Amen, Hallelujah; Amen, Oh Lord; Amen, the Lord do thus.

(1) Sometimes it is approbation and a subscribing to what has been said. . . . Deut 27:15 . . . Neh 8:6. This approbation indicates that we comprehend the matter, as well as that we wish and desire it. . . . 1 Cor 14:16. (2) Sometimes it is expressive of a strong desire for a matter, and a desire that it be thus and come about as such . . . Jer 11:5. (3) Sometimes it signifies veracity, certainty, and steadfastness—upon which one can rely and trust in . . . 2 Cor 1:20.

The believing supplicant who has prayed everything with both his understanding and his heart, acknowledges the veracity and certainty of God’s promises, that He will hear prayer. . . . The supplicant has prayed with his heart, knows that the matters he has prayed for are according to God’s will, believes the goodness, omnipotence, and veracity of God, expects the fulfillment of his desire (subjecting himself to its time, manner, and measure), and longingly adds to this: ―Amen, so be it; it shall most certainly be true [Rev 22:20]. (pgs. 588-589, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 3, Wilhelmus á Brakel. trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke. [Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007])

[58]            For, after all, the word group for honor in the Old Testament (dEb;Dk) is that of weightiness or heaviness, while to treat someone lightly (llq/hlq) is to dishonor him (cf. 1 Sam 2:30; Ex 20:12; Deut 27:16; Pr 12:9).

More Resources on Ecclesiology: The Doctrine of the Church