Brian Sandifer on What the Psalms Should Teach Us About the Songs We Sing

How can we foster a culture of theological depth in our churches? It must begin with the faithful exposition of God’s Word. If our people aren’t regularly being fed from the Word of God, then there’s little hope for theological depth.

But God has given us others tools to facilitate our growth when we gather on Sunday mornings. One tool in particular stands out: singing. Little else brings together the heart, the soul, and the mind in one event. All this raises a question: what kinds of songs best foster a culture of theological depth? To answer this question, we don’t need to look any farther than the Psalter, God’s hymnbook.


The collection of 150 psalms which we call the Psalter is widely recognized to be the hymnal for the ancient people of God. Some present-day denominations still use it at their exclusive hymnal. I can understand why: it’s teeming with a variety of subjects and situations. It moves us from mountaintops to miry pits; our hearts and souls are laid bare as we read. At the same time, the Psalter also challenges our minds. After all, when read through a Christological lens, this book teaches all the major doctrines of the Christian faith.

Through the Psalter, we learn about the doctrine of revelation (Pss 1, 12, 19, 119, etc.) and theology proper (10, 11, 14, 23, 33, etc.). We learn Christology (2, 22, 40, 110, etc.), pneumatology (51, 104, etc.), soteriology (1, 22, 103, 145, etc.), anthropology (8, 14, 16, 27, etc.), and hamartiology (14, 51, 53, etc.). And that’s just the beginning.


What does this tell us about the importance of our singing on Sunday mornings?

If the Holy Spirit thought it important to inspire the authors this way, and if the Psalter is indeed a hymnal for God’s people, then shouldn’t we also make sure that our own singing covers both the full breadth of Christian doctrine and the full range of human emotion? Our singing should consist of more than pithy praise choruses. We need to sing songs that boldly proclaim all the truths contained in God’s Word.

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Source: Church Leaders