Category Archives: Book Reviews

“A Most Important Text” by Rowan Murphy

IMG_3964A Most Important Text by Rowan Murphy is available here (for Europe here).

I received a copy this week for review. This work is a good reminder of the role of Scripture in worship. Murphy structures this pamphlet around his central text, 2 Timothy 3:16-17,

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Murphy begins by discussing two reformations that are recorded in God’s Word, that of King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:30) and King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23). These reformations are of worship and the things pertaining to worship, and so they are rightly compared to the presumptuous worship of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2). Murphy says, “this passage should cause us all to examine our doctrines and practices, and in particular, our offerings of worship. Is every single element of your offerings of worship definitively and specifically commanded in Scripture? Is it fire from heaven? Is it directly according to His commands, and of His wisdom, and so defined by Him as to contain only what He has specifically called for?” I appreciate this direct challenge to me and to all who worship God. May we issue this same challenge to our dear friends and loved ones who have been distracted by modern theories of worship. May we call them back to a worship that is regulated by God’s Word.

Amazingly, the modern church rarely even acknowledges this clear Biblical warning that reveals just how much God cares about the way we worship Him. But the problem extends beyond worship, as Murphy notes, because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 also applies to “every good work”. The Bible is then sufficient to direct our preaching, our marriages, our families, and to show us how to love our neighbor. Worship, though severely neglected, is but a part of the eternal wisdom that is given to us in the Word of God.

On a personal level, this particular line of reasoning, that the Scriptures are sufficient for worship, was the final convincing argument that won me over to Exclusive Psalmody. I am reminded here of the central place that this “most important text” should have, to show us in part that the Psalms are sufficient for our worship. This argument is presented as a pamphlet, so the only negative is that it’s very brief. Readers may be left with additional questions about the details of how to structure worship with only the Bible as a source or perhaps some counterarguments might be left unanswered. The particulars, of course, can be found in an abundance of resources that are available in defense of EP, but perhaps the author will expand in future editions.

Though short, this work provides us with a direct reminder that we need not look beyond the Word of God for direction in worship. Certainly the inspired Psalms are superior in every possible way to the uninspired poems of mere men, and of this wonderful truth we can’t be reminded often enough.

Enjoy!

Rowan Murphy is a member of Arann Reformed Baptist Church, which is an exclusive psalmody church in Dublin pastored by Mark Fitzpatrick. More information can be found on their Youtube page and on Sermonaudio

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Nine Psalter Reviews by Logan West

The following Psalter Reviews have been added to the Articles Online page. Thanks to Logan for these insightful reviews!

1650 Psalter A Review by Logan West
Comprehensive Psalter A Review by Logan West
Psalms for Singing 21st Century A Review by Logan West
Scottish Psalmody A Review by Logan West
Sing Psalms A Review by Logan West
The Psalter of 1912 A Review by Logan West
Book of Psalms for Singing A Review by Logan West
Book of Psalms for Worship A Review by Logan West
Complete Book of Psalms for Singing A Review by Logan West
Collected Reviews A Review by Logan West

A review of Michael Lefebvre’s book “Singing the Songs of Jesus”

Rev. Malcolm Maclean of Greyfriars Free Church provides a review of Singing the Songs of Jesus. Here is a sample:

“This easily-read book by the best publisher provides an interesting approach to using the psalms. It is not a defence of exclusive psalmody (although the author wisely agrees with that view). Instead the book is about spiritual benefits that individuals and congregations will receive through using the Psalms in their worship services. Even at a basic level, the Psalms, because they are divinely inspired, inform us of the features that God wants us to sing about when we are worshipping him…

…Since Jesus sings the psalms with us, it means that in a sense the psalms are conversations with Jesus about various aspects of his person and work. The author explores this reality in chapters 3 and 4. When using the Psalms, sometimes we sing with the King about God and his ways, sometimes we sing to the King, and sometimes we sing to one another in the presence of the King. In the Psalms, we sing about his deity, his humanity, his birth, his life, his love of God’s law, his atoning death, his resurrection, his ascension, his exaltation, his kingdom, his return, his role as Judge, his role as Priest, his role as Prophet, his role as Shepherd, and many other facets of his person and work. The author here helped me understand further how Paul could in Colossians 3 equate the communal singing of ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ with the ‘word of Christ’…
  
…In this short book of 160 pages, we have a good summary of the theology (purpose) of the Psalms. The author provides clear principles for interpreting the Psalms in a Christ-centred way and shows us how we can develop a precious intimacy with the King through ongoing usage of the Psalms. Using them in public worship is a God-given way of exalting King Jesus as we see him fulfil his role as Leader of the praise of God’s people.”
  
The full review can be found here  
  
The book can be purchased here  
  
Thanks to Scott Maciver for bringing the book and review to our attention.  
  
Further reviews from the publisher…

“This book powerfully reminds us that the church has for too long ignored a vibrant source of devotion-the song book of Jesus…we can’t afford to neglect this divinely inspired song book that God has given us.” Donald W. Sweeting ~ President Professor of Church History, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“This book should admirably fulfil the author’s purpose by forcing those who have rejected or neglected the psalms in their praise to think again. Its central theory (that the psalms consist of praise conversations between God, his Messiah and his people) should help to illuminate the status of the psalter as the New Covenant song book it was meant to be and sheds much needed light on such dark areas as the imprecatory (cursing) psalms. If you have never sung the psalms and would like good biblical rather than historical reasons for doing so, and, crucially, if you want the key to understanding what you sing, you should really read this book .” Kenneth Stewart ~ Minister of Dowanvale Free Church of Scotland, Glasgow

“It has been wisely said that the Psalter is a spiritual cardiograph. The Psalms accurately reflect our spiritual health. The more I am ‘at home’ in singing the Psalms, the spiritually fitter I am. Uniquely in the Bible, the Psalms both speak to us – Luther derived much of his theology from the Psalter, – and also speak for us. They are the God-given words with which we can address both our Heavenly Father and each other. Michael LeFebvre’s book is both scholarly and readable, and provides a wonderful incentive to ‘Sing the Psalms, again’.” Jonathan Fletcher ~ Vicar of Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, London

“Speaking to God in words that He has chosen, with the breadth and depth of topics He has revealed, instead of singing about Him, would enrich our worship. Yes, it will prove a learning experience for our congregations, but the dimensional richness the Psalms afford would be well worth the effort.” John D. Hannah ~ Distinguished Professor of Historical Theology, Research Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

“In this volume Michael LeFebvre enriches the church with wisdom regarding the vital role that singing the Psalms has in the worship of the church and the life of the believer. Michael avoids the hard edged heated opinions which often cloud this subject and instead casts refreshing pastoral light on a much neglected topic. All readers of this volume will be edified, educated and blessed!” Anthony T. Selvaggio ~ preacher, author and Visiting professor of Biblical Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania