Thursday, July 29, 2021

On The Meaning Of The Word Psalms

The English word “psalms” is a transliteration of the Greek title of the book. That is, this is the Greek word simply spelled in English or Roman letters. The Greek word psalmoi was first translated into Latin as Psalmi, and then into English as “Psalms.” The Greek word originally meant a striking or twitching of the fingers on a string. The related verb was used by classical writers for the “pulling of a bowstring.” From that came the idea of “pulling or playing a stringed musical instrument.” When the word took ons the extended meaning of a song, there was always the latent background of the stringed instrumental accompaniment tied to the singing. So the meaning of the Greek title of the book is “sacred songs sung to musical accompaniment.
Ronald B. Allen, And I Will Praise Him: A Guide to Worship in the Psalms, p. 21

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I noted this about Psalms when examining the Church of Christ. One of their cultic doctrines is that they prohibit instrumental music during worship service because they believe there is no mention of musical instruments in the New Testament except for a negative reference (1. Cor. 13:1). Therefore, as their reasoning goes, musical instruments are prohibited. This is certainly a legalistic misuse of Scripture. The truth is that in the New Testament we see two places where the church is to worship with “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19). In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words we have the following explanation for the word “psalm”: “pslamos primarily denoted ‘a striking or twitching with the fingers (on musical strings)’; then, ‘a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.’”

So, like your note on the meaning of psalms, the evidence is quite plain that the N.T. church used instruments for worship.