In an unpublished paper that circulated our Seminary, a prominent college Professor of Religion says, “Exclusive psalmody is not only not required, but positively erroneous and sinful.” Our professor friend indicates we ought to look in the Book of Revelation for guidance regarding sacred song suitable for the church. Let’s do just that. We find a representative song in Revelation 15:3-4.
And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
A Great and marvelous are Your works,
B O Lord God, the Almighty;
A’ Righteous and true are Your ways,
B’ King of the nations!
C Who will not fear, O LORD, AND GLORIFY YOUR NAME?
D For You alone are holy;
C’ For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU,
D’ For Your righteous acts have been revealed.
For our purposes, we note three things about this song. It is a biblical gospel song representative of the Psalms. It is in the form of a Psalm. And finally, it quotes the Psalms. This particular song therefore directs us back to the Psalms of the Old Testament.
First of all, this song of Revelation is a biblical gospel song representative of the Psalms. Revelation 15:2 indicates the singers are believers, “those who have been victorious over the beast and his image.” These believers are “holding golden harps.” That is, they sing by the power of the Spirit. We have a vision before us, a picture of reality and not the reality itself. As bowls of incense symbolize prayer, harps represent Spirit empowered song (Revelation 5:8-9, 14:2-3).
This Spirit empowered song confesses the rule and reign of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3). The “Lord God, the Almighty” is the “King of the nations.” Because this is the case, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?” This is the burden of the Song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-18. After rehearsing God’s salvation, verse 18 exclaims, “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” Isaiah tells us this is the Good News. “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7). The apostle Paul shows this same message is the basic Christian confession. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Jesus Christ is the Lord who reigns forever and ever. In Romans 10:15, Paul ties the preaching of Christ as Lord back to Isaiah 52:7 with a quote.
Biblical gospel song therefore centers on the message, “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” Such song is genuinely “the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3). You cannot separate Moses and Christ. This was the error of the Pharisees. They wanted to sing the song of Moses but not the song of Christ. However, as outlined above, those who truly sing the song of Moses do indeed sing the song of Christ. There is one Lord, one gospel, and one song.
The Psalms of the Old Testament are replete with the message of this one song. Here are some examples. “The Lord is King forever and ever” (Psalm 10:16). “The Lord sits as King forever (Psalm 29:10). “The Lord reigns” (Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 97:1, 99:1). Our professor friend errs. Revelation 15:3-4 points us back to the Psalms. Revelation 15:3-4 shows us that the Psalms are biblical gospel songs. We ought to learn them and sing them.