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The Need for discernment regarding the elements of worship (Judges 5: 1-31)

“ Chapter five of Judges records a song which we are told that Deborah and Barak sang on that day [when Sisera was killed by Jael]…

It is necessary to consider this song and its place in redemptive history, because some hold it up as an example that it is proper and necessary for God's people to compose songs and use them in corporate worship, contrary to the practice of singing the Psalms only. In answer to this argument several things should be noted:

First, whatever else might be asserted, it should be clear that this song does not justify the use of uninspired hymns since it is itself an inspired portion of Scripture. Second, it is not valid to cite this song as an example of ordinary congregational singing since it was not sung by the people corporately, but only by Deborah and Barak. Third, the context makes it plain that Deborah’s song was not composed for the corporate worship of the Church at all, but as a celebration of a specific national deliverance. Fourth, even if the prior observations were not true, the so-called ‘Song of Deborah’ was written and sung prior to the revelation of God specific commands for the content of singing in the Temple, and therefore cannot be used as a basis for the normative practice of the Church after clearer and more particular directions were given by God. Fifth, it is interesting to note that Deborah’s Song, while it was a moving celebration of God's power and glory in delivering His people, did not find a place in the Psalter at a later date, while certain other historical songs were specifically added to the book of Psalms.

From all this we are shown that we must exercise careful discernment in order to understand the commands and examples of Scripture as they regulate the worship of the Church.” (Comin, 66)

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