The Regulative Principle and David

The Regulative Principle is a term used to describe how God and the Bible order public worship.  This is espoused by various Christian denominations (including hyper-Calvinists and Anabaptists).  In layman’s terms, we can say the regulative principle, at its conservative extreme, says that Christians should not sing anything other than the Psalms in church (with a few exceptions in some groups), should not use instruments because there is no clear use of instruments in the New Testament church, and should not dance at all.

I wonder if they ever studied David’s worship style.

And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals…And David danced before the LORD with all his might.
– 1 Samuel 6:5, 14

I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you.
– Psalm 144:9


One response to “The Regulative Principle and David”

  1. Surely you aren’t suggesting that the faithful Reformers and theologians of the past were blind to these popular passages of Scripture… Yes, they studied these passages.

    The first passage is not an example of corporate worship; they weren’t doing this at the Tabernacle/Temple. This passage is describing a merry feast/party. We’re free to dance and sing and clang cymbals all we want outside of corporate worship.

    As for the second text, the Psalms also contain words that tell us to bind the sacrifice to the altar. So, how do we sing those Psalms as Christians? We sing the whole Psalter in light of the finished work of Jesus Christ. The new song that we sing is the old song of redemption in light of Jesus’ work. Likewise, the new covenant isn’t a completely new covenant. It’s the old covenant seen in light of Jesus.


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