The Mysterious Tabernacle of David

Recently, I have made a few posts concerning elements of Charismatic/Pentecostal theology. This has been brought on by my recent studies of the theology behind Praise & Worship music. In this post, I have another element that I feel needs to be addressed: the so-called Tabernacle of David.

Historical Account

When reading the Scriptures and arriving at II Samuel chapter 6, you will find King David’s desire to bring the Ark of the Covenant to his new capital at Jerusalem. To understand how this came to be, we need to examine the history of the Ark and the Tabernacle of Moses leading up to this point:

  • c. 1150 B.C. – The Tabernacle of Moses and Ark are together at Shiloh, where they had been for over three centuries. – Joshua 18:1, Judges 18:31, I Samuel 1:3, 2:3
  • 1122 B.C. – The Ark is removed from the Tabernacle of Moses and brought to the war camp of the Israelites at Ebenezer, maybe 18-20 miles west of Shiloh. This First Battle at Ebenezer was a terrible defeat of the Jews by the Philistines. The Ark was captured in the battle and in the rout that followed it is believed by some that Shiloh was sacked or destroyed. – I Samuel 4:1-11, Jeremiah 7:12
  • 1121 B.C – The Ark spends seven months in the hands of the Philistines. It is was moved among their capitals of Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. In each of these locations God cursed the inhabitants while they possessed the Ark. – I Samuel 5:1-6:1
  • 1121 B.C. – The Philistines send the Ark back to Israel by placing it on a cart pulled by two untamed milk cows. It arrives in Bethshemesh, where the Israelites there do not respect the Ark by opening it and God punishes their lack of reverence. – I Samuel 6:2-20
  • 1121 B.C. – The Ark is taken to Kirjathhearim, where it stays in the house of Abinidab. – I Samuel 6:21-7:2
  • 1065 B.C. – David flees from Saul’s court and arrives at Nob. He is given shewbread by Ahimelech, implying that at least some of the Tabernacle furniture and setup is present there. The large number of priests and the high priest himself also suggest something special about this site. Based on the evidence, we assume that some form of the Tabernacle of Moses (minus the Ark) existed at Nob when David visited there. When and how it came to be here from its last appearance at Shiloh is unknown. – I Samuel 21:1-9
  • 1046 B.C. – David attempts to bring the Ark to Jerusalem by placing it on a cart. Uzzah is killed when he attempts to steady the Ark on the cart. The Ark is placed in the house of Obededom, where it stays for the next three months. – II Samuel 6:1-11, I Chronicles 13:1-14
  • 1046 B.C. – David brings the Ark to Jerusalem, amid sacrifices and singing. It is placed in a specially constructed tent/tabernacle, the Tabernacle of David. – II Samuel 6:12-19, I Chronicles 15:1-16:37
  • 1046 B.C. – David organizes the service of the Levites to serve in two locations: before the Ark in Jerusalem and at the Tabernacle of Moses which was now in Gibeon. It is assumed that the Tabernacle of Moses moved to Gibeon after the slaughter of the priests at Nob by Doeg in I Samuel 22:6-23 This separation remained until the completion of the Temple by Solomon in 1004 B.C. – I Chronicles 16:37-43, 21:29; II Chronicles 1:3

There are a few great questions that come to mind:

First, why were the Ark and Tabernacle of Moses not reunited? Some speculate that the Tabernacle of Moses was worn out, damaged, or incomplete and thus unable to be moved or possibly even to properly function. It has even been suggested that this was a move by David to force the other tribes to submit to his rule. Some even think that this was David’s self-will not part of God’s design. One person suggests that David kept the Ark like a petulant toddler because he was unable to go in the Tabernacle of Moses himself.

Sometimes, God chooses not to reveal His plans to us and we simply must trust in Him (Deuteronomy 29:29). That could very well be the case here, if it were not for a passage in Psalms that appears to explain God’s purpose.

In Psalm 78 is a rehearsal of God’s dealings with Israel as means of instruction of spiritual truths. I think A.C. Gaebelein summarizes it well:

“This historical retrospect needs no further comment. It is God speaking to the hearts of His people through their own history from Egypt to David. How graciously He dealt with them all the way! The crowning fact is His sovereign grace in choosing Judah, Mount Zion which he loved, building there His sanctuary, and choosing David His servant to feed Jacob His people and Israel His inheritance. Here we may well think of the Son of David, God’s Anointed in whom God’s sovereign grace is made known and who will yet feed Jacob and Israel His inheritance.”

Let’s examine Psalm 78:56-72:

  • 78:56-58 – The Israelites had turned their back on God. Even a casual Bible study of the events of Judges into I Samuel will show how the Jews continually turned away from God.
  • 78:59-61 – God turned away from His rebellious people and sent judgment in the capture of the Ark by the Philistines and the fall of Shiloh.
  • 78:62-64 – The judgment that fell on Israel is described.
  • 78:65-66 – The judgment that fell on the Philistines is described.
  • 78:67-68 – God rejected the Tabernacle and the powerful tribe of Ephraim that held it, instead choosing to lead through the tribe of Judah from mount Zion in Jerusalem.
  • 78:69 – The temple at Jerusalem is described.
  • 78:70-72 – The reign of David is described.

What does Psalm 78 teach us about the separation of the Ark and the Tabernacle of Moses? That it was a result of God’s judgment on Israel’s sin and that God was reforming their worship by establishing its new center in Jerusalem and the Temple.

Second, why did David place the Ark in its own new tent/tabernacle? Why not build something grander for it?

It appears that David saw this new tabernacle for the Ark (I am calling it the “Tabernacle of David” to differentiate it from the “Tabernacle of Moses”) as only a temporary dwelling. We see in II Samuel 7 that David had every intention of building a grand Temple. Even though God did not allow him to build it, we see his concern and preparation for its construction (I Chronicles 22). David was anxious for the day when God’s presence returned to Israel in a complete Tabernacle/Temple.

But David also realized that day had not arrived yet. The Tabernacle of David was a temporary structure that awaited something grander to replace it. Though they possessed the Ark and some blessing from their respectful keeping of it, God’s presence was not upon it like the days in the wilderness. This is emphasized in the fact that God’s presence fell in such a mighty way at the dedication of the Temple (II Chronicles 5:13-14) but no mention is made of any similar event for the Tabernacle of David.

Third, what actually happened at the Tabernacle of David?

Let’s do a rundown of actions we see there:

  • Sacrifices – II Samuel 6:17-18, I Kings 3:15
  • Gathering of the people – II Samuel 6:19
  • Corporate praise – I Chronicles 16:36
  • Personal Worship – II Samuel 12:20
    • NOTE – I’m honestly not 100% sure “house of the LORD” refers to the Tabernacle of David instead of the Tabernacle of Moses. It makes sense that he would go to the former rather than the latter since it was closer, but the use of the phrase “house of the LORD” generally refers to the Tabernacle of Moses or the Temple.
  • Music – I Chronicles 15:16-22, 16:42

Now, let’s look at the roles of the priests that served there:

  • Asaph and his family took care of day-to-day affairs – I Chronicles 16:37
  • Obededom and family were porters/doorkeepers – I Chronicles 16:38

Note that the names and positions that follow in I Chronicles 16:39-42 appear to be associated with the Tabernacle of Moses at Gibeon and not the Tabernacle of David at Jerusalem. It is interesting to find that this is the first reference to incorporating music in to the services at the Tabernacle of Moses.

The position of Asaph is interesting. If this is the same Asaph as in I Chronicles 6:39, 15:17, etc. (and there is little doubt that is the same person) then it is assumed that he must be exercising his musical abilities in this service. But Asaph could be acting in his position as a Gershonite. The Gershonites were the division of Levites charged mainly with carrying and caring for the decorative materials of the Tabernacle of Moses (Numbers 4:24-28). It is also interesting to note that Obededom was a Kohathite (I Chronicles 26:1-5), the division charged with carrying the “most holy things” of the Tabernacle of Moses (Numbers 4:4-14). Regardless, the presence of Asaph suggests but does not prove a musical program.

Historical Inaccuracies

The information above is the most concrete information we have on the Tabernacle of David. I have been quite surprised to see other claims with no basis in Scripture or history. Let’s examine a few:

1. The Tabernacle of David had only one compartment that corresponded with the Most Holy Place [source]

There is nothing mentioned in Scripture of the design or layout. This is pure conjecture.

2. There was unrestricted access for many/all into the presence of the Ark. [source]

Again, no basis for this claim. It actually goes against the way the Jews revered the Ark, even covering it when it was moved (Numbers 4:5-6).

3. There was constant, 24/7 praise, worship, and music before the Ark. [source]

The only basis for this claim is two assumptions. First, that Asaph and those under him were operating in a musical role. We simply have no concrete evidence of if or how music played a part in what they were doing. Second, that their ministry “continually, as every day’s work required” was 24/7/365. This can also be understood that they regularly did the requirements of each day. The similar language found in passages such as II Chronicles 8:14 and Ezra 3:4 supports this as a better interpretation.

4. David dwelt in his Tabernacle. [source]

The references cited for this claim are Psalms 23:6 and 27:4. However, in both of these David is speaking longingly of something he desired but did not possess.

5. God’s presence was in the Tabernacle of David. [source]

As we looked at before, there is no evidence for this claim. It is an assumption that God was present because the Ark was there. But God is not bound to one place or one piece of furniture. The strictest interpretation of Scripture would support the presence of God departing when the Philistines took the Ark (see I Samuel 4:21) and its return when Solomon dedicated the Temple.

6. The worship was marked by spontaneity. [source]

No evidence for this whatsoever.

7. The worship was marked by dancing. [source]

The only dancing that could be referred to was David’s dancing for joy before the Ark as it was carried to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16). First, this is in connection with bringing the Ark and not with it resting in its new home. Second, David’s joyful expressions are wonderful in themselves but not a prescriptive command for others. Third, there is no reference to others emulating David’s action in that day.

8. The Tabernacle of David was open so all could see the Ark. [source]

No evidence for this. The sacred nature of the Ark would have most likely inspired them to keep it covered.

9. David initiated a new form of worship marked by singing, physical expression, etc. [source]

This assumption is based on many other assumptions about the sort of worship that went on in the Tabernacle of David. David did in fact do much to reorganize the priesthood and prepare for an expansion of the services of the Temple. Part of this does appear to be the introduction of music in to the Tabernacle/Temple services. But to insinuate that dancing, spontaneous singing, etc. were integrated into worship at this time and place is without sound Biblical basis.

The Prophetic Element

Having examined the historical background of the Tabernacle of David, let us move on the prophecy that some claim is related to it.

The first reference we will look at is in Isaiah chapter 16. This chapter and the previous one are together one prophecy against the nation of Moab. In the midst of this message to Moab, we find a striking prophecy in 16:5: “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.”

The second reference is in Amos 9. This chapter deals with the fall of the kingdom of Israel into captivity with a promise that they will later be restored. We see in 9:11-12: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.”

The third reference is in Acts 15. The Apostles and the church at Jerusalem debated whether or not Gentile Christians were subject to the ordinances of the Law of Moses. There is much debate with testimonies from Peter, Paul, and Barnabas with no resolution. James the delivers a speech, declaring that the God had declared that He would save the Gentiles and not just the Jews. James quotes the prophecy from Amos 9 as proof of God’s plan of bringing salvation to the Gentiles. Let’s read his speech in full from Acts 15:13-21:

“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (14) Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (15)  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, (16)  After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (17) That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. (18) Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (19) Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: (20) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (21) For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

A few observations:

First, it was assumed by some interpreters that this prophetic tabernacle must be the physical Tabernacle of David that held the Ark. However, on closer examination there is no relation between these prophesies and Tabernacle of David.

Someone will surely object at this: “But it says the ‘tabernacle of David’! What other tabernacle did David have?” I’ll answer that in the next point.

Second, the use of the ‘tabernacle’ here is figurative for the kingdom and household of the royal line of David. That’s why Isaiah said it had a throne, which the physical Tabernacle of David did not have. That’s why Amos speaks of it possessing or ruling over foreign people and lands. It is speaking of a kingdom and its authority.

Third, note that the three prophetic verses (Isaiah 16:5, Amos 9:11, Acts 15:16) that speak of the “tabernacle of David” are the only verses in the Bible that use that exact phrase. That term is never actually applied to the tent that house the Ark. To be honest, it is somewhat anachronistic and indeed inappropriate to apply the term to the tent David used since this name appears here in a very different context. [Please recall that I have only used term “Tabernacle of David” to describe David’s tent for the Ark in order to differentiate it from the Tabernacle of Moses and because that is what others have called it.]

Fourth, someone, I believe in the past century or so, conflated the prophetic “tabernacle of David” with the physical “tabernacle that David had pitched for [the Ark]” (II Samuel 6:17). I can understand how it could be easily done, but any contextual analysis should show that two very different meanings are found between the physical and the prophetic. This is essentially the same as confusing Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant. Two very different things that are called the same name (in English, at least).

Fifth, these prophesies do not apply directly to the church at all. When James references Amos he is not saying, “The prophecy of Amos is fulfilled!” Instead, he is saying, “This is like a greater truth I see in the prophecy of Amos.” He is saying that Christ intends to bring the Gentiles into His Kingdom, so who were they to deny their entrance?

Sixth, the prophecies are clearly pointing to Christ’s future kingdom. He will reign upon the restored house/throne/kingdom/tabernacle of David. See Psalm 132:11-12, Isaiah 9:7, Jeremiah 17:25, etc.

The Source of the Confusion

The fountainhead for the confusion about the Tabernacle of David is most certainly in Pentecostal/Charismatic theology from the mid-20th century. Yes, there are those that did relate the prophetic and physical Tabernacles of David previous to them, as seen in the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary on Amos 9:11. But the propagation and proliferation of studies on the Tabernacle of David we see today come directly from Pentecostal/Charismatic sources and influences.

The claim that is made is that the Tabernacle of David is a true model for worship that was lost/forgotten/neglected for centuries upon centuries. That model of worship is said to have been loud, animated, spontaneous, and musical. This model is further proposed as the only true way of worshipping God.

The next claim is that the prophecies, seen especially in Amos and Acts, are of a restoration of this lost form of worship that will appear in the “latter days”. It is proclaimed that through this restoration of true worship and royal authority that will reach the nations and ready the Bride of Christ.

Yes, if you have never been exposed to these teachings (and there are many variations) some people out here are literally teaching that God withheld the method for true and powerful worship for over 3,000 years and just recently decided to give it back to His people. The first group to start making these connections was likely the Latter Rain movement (See p. 46-47 of A History of Contemporary Praise and Worship). Now these teachings are infiltrating mainline denominations.

How did this happen? I think largely because it began with such an obscure reference in Biblical history that there was not a good counter to their claims. There was not (and is still not as far as I can tell) a well developed understanding of what exactly happened at that tent that David that can be used as a defense. From my study I find only miniscule references to the Tabernacle of David in older commentaries, dictionaries, and such. Even Jewish resources seem to gloss over it.

So they begin from obscurity, then start connecting dots to other re-interpretations of commands for terminology for worshipping and praising God. Through the use of typology or application of definitions (mostly redefinitions), these lines between the dots weave a facade of doctrine that appears formidable but is empty when examined. Before long it is difficult to tell if the Tabernacle of David is the legitimate basis for their beliefs or something that was reinterpreted based on other positions. Likely there as so many individuals with differing methodologies that we may never discern the actual roots.

A Final Word

I am amazed at how widespread these teachings are and how little material has been produced to counter them or to inoculate against them. But I think this is how so much of the Charismatic influence has taken root in orthodox institutions. On the surface it appears they are using Scripture to back their positions, but all the proof texts and Biblical imagery belie the fact that their arguments constantly fail to stand up to careful scrutiny. Sadly, too many undiscerning believers are falling prey to their charlatanism.

Hebrew Words For Praise

Image by Robert C from Pixabay

While studying the history and philosophy of Praise & Worship music, I encountered a particular study that is commonly used by its proponents. As noted in Ruth and Hong’s A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship, much of the basis for Praise & Worship has been found in the book of Psalms. This is found even in its earliest days (1940-50’s):

“Part of [James] Beall’s presentation of this restored divine order was a use of proof texts from Psalms to justify specific practices: Psalm 150 to ground the use of a variety of musical instruments, Palm 134 or the lifting of hands, and Psalm 47 for clapping hands. In the surge of teaching materials in the next historical periods such us of proof texts – especially from Psalms – would become a standard teaching device.”

A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship, p. 41 [Emphasis added]

“The use of psalm proof texts to develop a liturgical schema points to the fourth core theological conviction: Praise & Worship was approached as a biblically derived, God-given pattern for worship. Convinced that this was the way of worship God had given in the Bible, its practitioners taught it with the confidence they had in the Scriptures themselves. Their tone was neither experimental nor cautious since Praise & Worship was not human-created, according to this theology. Rather, it was God’s gift to renew the church. Consequently; the Bible as God’s Word outlined its underlying promise (God desires to dwell with his people and does so through their praise) and its specific methods.

“Not surprisingly, this conviction about the biblical basis for Praise & Worship generated a method for theologizing. It had three regular features: The first was a predilection for undertaking studies of biblical words and then using key words to compile a group of passages from which to form a synthesis. For example, what Reg Layzell did in 1946 (see chap. 1), Judith McAllister did forty years later when the criticalness of praise first hooked her: she immersed herself for days in Bible study tools like concordances, skipping nearly a week of college classes. Her goal was to see when and how the Bible used the word “praise.” The second regular feature was an attraction to typology drawn from Bible stories, especially from the Old Testament and especially from narratives about David. (The book of Revelation was a favorite of some too.) Praise & Worship teachers used these stories to develop types instructive for how and why Christians should worship. The third regular feature of the theological method was, as mentioned above, a predilection for using the Psalms to provide the details about the specific dimensions of Praise & Worship, especially those involving physical expression. Therefore, the biblically derived theology of Praise & Worship was a very embodied theology, because the Psalms drew a picture of worshipers fully engaged with their whole persons.

A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship, p. 127 [Emphasis added]

The same process of using the Psalms, its imagery and its vocabulary, is alive and well today. A quick search on Amazon will reveal works like Worship Actions & Attitudes: Understanding 10 Hebrew Words For Praise and Worship by Rob Stiles, Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change the Way You Worship by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead, and The Power of Praise: The 7 Hebrew Words for Praise by David Chapman. There is not shortage of online resources on the subject either: such as here, here, or here.

Before we move on, let me say that just because a person uses Scripture or language studies to back their beliefs it does not guarantee that they are correct. Verses can be taken out of context (looking at you, Jeremiah 29:11) and words can be redefined. You can also use faulty scholarship or logic. Too often I see people, even those I agree with, defend their positions through eisegesis and not exegesis. As a side note, let me say as someone that is pro-KJV that I get nervous when I see someone who generally doesn’t use the KJV quote from it (see uses of Proverbs 29:18 for an example). It is a sign of cherry picking verses with just the right wording in order to support an argument, which is an application of eisegeses.

As far as I can tell, no one across the multiple millennia of the history of worshipping the God of the Bible ever used the Hebrew language (including Psalms) to discover or defend charismatic-style ecstatic worship practices until the mid-twentieth century. Centuries of rabbinical thought and debate did not uncover it. Centuries of Bible scholarship did not discover it. Millions of believers who earnestly sought how to properly express their worship and praise through diligent study of Scripture did not discover it. Who did discover this? According to the afore mentioned A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship it was likely the Latter Rain branch of the Pentecostal movement that developed and propagated it as they believed God had “restored” through them the lost and forgotten truths of how He wanted to be praised.

But I am not putting this together to talk about history (please, just go and read A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship already). I want to present a more balanced exegetical study of the Hebrew word studies they promote. I do not claim to be any sort of expert on the Hebrew language, but most of the pro-P&W writers who have also written on this subject are clearly not either. The entire presentation is obviously built around looking up words in a Strong’s Concordance.


Alphabetical List of Words


Halal

  • Hebrew: הָלַל
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: H1984 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 165x total, 94x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: praise (117x), glory (14x), boast (10x), mad (8x), shine (3x), foolish (3x), fools (2x), commended (2x), rage (2x), celebrate (1x), give (1x), marriage (1x), renowned (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to be clear (orig. Of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify — (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool(- ish, -ly), glory, give (light), be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, (sing, be worthy of) praise, rage, renowned, shine.

The common P&W definition is “to praise, to make a show or rave about, to glory in or boast upon, to be clamorously foolish about you adoration of God”. I that find exact definition copied and pasted across multiple websites without acknowledging its original source.

I find a much truer emphasis should be placed on the ideas of “shining”, “focusing”, or “revealing”. It used to describe light sources emanating their light (Job 29:3, 31:25), revealing through action an inner madness or insanity (I Samuel 21:13, Jeremiah 50:38), boastful claims from a prideful heart (Psalm 10:3, Proverbs 27:1), and revealing outwardly an inner foolishness (Job, 12:17, Psalm 75:4)

There is no hint of “raving” or being “clamorously foolish” in the proper use of halal. Those that claim so misapply the connection with madness to the broader application of the word.

The best way I can describe the true meaning of halal is the idea of a spotlight. When we praise God, we are not focusing on ourselves but spotlighting His worthiness and greatness. When we boast, we are spotlighting our prideful self. When someone is foolish or insane, their actions are spotlighting their inward condition.

So when we praise God, we are putting all the attention and glory and honor onto Him. When halal is applied to praising God it has little or no focus on the one praising. When we praise Him we step into the shadows and so that He can shine.

For further reading, see this post by Daniel Rodriguez.

Barak

  • Hebrew: בָרַךְ
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: H1288 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 330x total, 75x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: bless (302x), salute (5x), curse (4x), blaspheme (2x), blessing (2x), praised (2x), kneel down (2x), congratulate (1x), kneel (1x), make to kneel (1x), miscellaneous (8x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason) — X abundantly, X altogether, X at all, blaspheme, bless, congratulate, curse, X greatly, X indeed, kneel (down), praise, salute, X still, thank.

The common P&W definition is “to kneel or bow, to give reverence to God as an act of adoration, implies a continual conscious giving place to God, to be attuned to him and his presence”. This definition is also copied and pasted around the internet, including many with attuned misspelled as atuned.

This word carries the ideas of kneeling before someone as in homage or reverence (II Chronicles 6:13, Psalm 95:6), to acknowledge through salutation (I Samuel 13:10, II Kings 4:29), to pronounce a desire of goodwill and bountifulness upon (Genesis 12:2-3, 49:28), or to be specially granted goodness and favor (Psalm 5:12, Proverbs 3:33). In a negative sense, it can mean to denounce or wish evil upon (Job 2:9, I Kings 21:10).

When applied to our worship of God, we see the ideas of humility (kneeling down), acknowledgement, honor, and reverence. The primary targets of our blessing is either God Himself (Psalm 103:1-2) or His name (Psalm 113:2). This is a heartfelt reaction to God’s glory (Psalm 104:1) and His great works (Psalm 28:6). I want to press the point of humility here: when we bless God, we are acknowledging His greatness in part by bowing (literally or figuratively) before Him. The focus is on God and not the worshipper.

Where the aforementioned P&W definition errs is in its application toward God’s presence and in “giving place”. There is no consistent connection with blessing God and being in His presence. The teaching of God’s omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-18, Isaiah 57:15, etc.) greatly undermines any need to acknowledge His appearance. As to the idea of “giving place” or yielding, I see no connection at all to this word.

See also this post.

Shabach

  • Hebrew: שָׁבַח
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: H7623 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 11x total, 7x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: praise (5x), still (2x), keep it in (1x), glory (1x), triumph (1x), commend (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; properly, to address in a loud tone, i.e. (specifically) loud; figuratively, to pacify (as if by words) — commend, glory, keep in, praise, still, triumph.
  • Note – an Aramaic form of the word (Strong’s H2624) is used 5x in Daniel and translated as “praise”.

A P&W definition found here is “to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout, proclaiming with a loud voice (unashamed), to glory, triumph, power, a testimony of praise”. This word does not make it onto all the word study lists, probably because of the scarcity of its usage, but it is the source for the title of Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead’s popular book Holy Roar.

The primary emphasis the that P&W supporters focus on is “loud” as expression of boldness in sound volume. This is interesting because not all dictionaries, lexicons, etc. agree on that emphasis. Strong’s definition shown above uses it, but the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, New American Standard Concordance, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, and Ancient Hebrew Lexicon do not mention anything about loudness. Another Hebrew word study I stumbled across mentions shabach while discussing Shavuot and describes it as “praise, happy praise, but also: calm down, appease”. So far, Strong’s is the only language resource I have found that mentions loudness. The idea of loud volume actually contradicts the context of all but the uses in I Chronicles and Psalms.

The consensus on the root definition appears to be “to soothe or stroke”. A much safer application to praise would be “praising in/through peace”, which is the complete opposite of the P&W materials I have examined.

Since I mentioned Holy Roar earlier, let me say that that book is a terrible book (you just don’t have to take my word for it). It is extremely faulty and misleading in its presentation. When it presents shabach in chapter 7, it states with no reference or foundation: “Quite literally, it means to raise a holy roar.” (p. 99) It does recognize that word only appears 11x, “but each time, it has powerful effect.” (p. 99). It then goes on to only reference 3 of the 11. What about the other 8? Is there not enough “powerful effect” in them? The reason why other references are not used is because doing so destroys the presented definition and argument.

Here are the verses that are referenced:

  • Psalm 63:3 – “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise [shabach] thee.”
    • NOTE – They wrongly identify the appearance of shabach on p. 99. They place it in verse 4, which is actually: “Thus will I bless [barak] thee while I live…”
  • Psalm 117:1 – “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise [shabach] him, all ye people.”
  • Psalm 145:4 – “One generation shall praise [shabach] thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”

Below are the verses that the “powerful effect” wasn’t enough to include:

  • I Chronicles 16:35 – “And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory [shabach] in thy praise.”
  • Psalm 65:7 – “Which stilleth [shabach] the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.” 
  • Psalm 89:9 – “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest [shabach] them.”
  • Psalm 106:47 – “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph [shabach] in thy praise.”
  • Psalm 147:12 – “Praise [shabach] the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.”
  • Proverbs 29:11 – “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth [shabach] it in till afterwards.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:2 – “Wherefore I praised [shabach] the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.”
  • Ecclesiastes 8:15 – “Then I commended [shabach] mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.”

So, maybe three more might could have been used to support their argument (I Chronicles 16:35, Psalm 106:47, Psalm 147:1). But where is the “powerful effect” of raising a “holy roar” in stilling/calming (Psalm 65:7, 89:9), keeping/holding (Proverbs 29:11), praising the dead (Ecclesiastes 4:2), or commending mirth/pleasure (Ecclesiastes 8:15)? You cannot claim the word means “holy roar” or has a “powerful effect” each time it appears when in half of it uses it cannot mean what you claim. If you do some digging it appears obvious that there is no basis for equating shabach with a “holy roar” other than taking Darren Whitehead’s word for it.

Yadah

  • Hebrew: יָדָה
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: H3034 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 114x total, 67x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: praise (53x), give thanks (32x), confess (16x), thank (5x), make confession (2x), thanksgiving (2x), cast (1x), cast out (1x), shoot (1x), thankful (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; used only as denominative from yad; literally, to use (i.e. Hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands) — cast (out), (make) confess(-ion), praise, shoot, (give) thank(-ful, -s, -sgiving).

A thorough P&W definition is “to use, hold out the hand, to throw (a stone or arrow) at or away, to revere or worship (with extended hands, praise thankful, thanksgiving)” and a concise definition is “to worship with extended hands.”

The primary root is “to cast with the hand”. That can be applied to shooting arrows (Jeremiah 50:14), throwing a rock (Lamentations 3:53), or expelling someone (Zechariah 1:21). However, the overwhelming majority of uses of this word have nothing to do with literally throwing anything. Instead, we find this word translated as “confess”, or “give thanks”, or “praise”. The connection seems to be in acknowledging one’s guilt by raising hands in identification or surrender (Leviticus 5:5, Numbers 5:7), in expressing thankfulness by pointing toward or marking its object (II Samuel 22:50, Psalm 92:1), or in raised hands to God in giving Him honor (Genesis 29:35, Psalm 33:2).

The issue we have in interpreting the correct meaning of the yadah is determining if the “casting with the hand” root is applied literally/physically, figuratively, or if it is even relevant at all. A similar case I came across a while back is qavah (Strong’s H6960), which implies twisting or binding (as in the strands of a rope), yet is generally translated as “waiting” in Isaiah 40:31. Many Hebrew words have “actions” in them that may be illustrative of the word’s meaning but not always applied in its definition. Sometimes there just isn’t a logical connection to be made.

Another question with yadah is whether the emphasis is on the hand or what the hand casts. Perhaps the emphasis is not on the raised hand in praising God but on the praises that are cast out to Him. An illustration of this is Psalm 33:2, where we find praising (yadah) God with an instrument. Is there literal hand-raising to God, a literal hand extended to the harp, or are the praises being figuratively thrown out towards God? I think this could also make sense in regards to confessing sins in that you are casting your guilt out before others.

I did find reference to Psalm 134:2 in regards to this word (“Lift up your hands in the sanctuary”), but the actual word yadah is not used here. Two other words are: nasa (Strong’s H5375) meaning “to lift” and yad (Strong’s H3027) meaning “hand”. On closer examination, this particular reference in Psalm 134 does not support the ideas of P&W . This is an exhortation to the priests serving at night time in the Temple, not to the congregation of Israel (vs. 1). Any study of nightly activities in the Temple will not show any times of exuberant praise. It must be also noted that in the language of Psalmody that nighttime is a time of darkness and despair, not joy and happiness. The general understanding of the lifting of hands here and in general is that of prayer and not praise (see commentaries here and here).

A deeper look at many of the proof texts of raising hands in joyous worship are actually in context speaking of something quite different (see here for a further discussion of this). We actually see the lifting of hands as a sign of lamentation or desperation in places such as Psalm 28:2, 63:4, 141:2, and Lamentations 2:19, 3:41. A few other references like Genesis 14:22 and Deuteronomy 32:40 have the lifting of hands as part of taking a oath. While these references may not be the focus of our present study, it is important to note they fail to show the lifting of hands in exuberant praise.

For further reference, here is someone that goes a bit deeper in the Hebrew.

Tehillah

  • Hebrew: תְּהִלָּה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: H8416 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 57x total, 30x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: praise (57x).
  • Strong’s definition: From halal; laudation; specifically (concretely) a hymn — praise.

One P&W definition is “to sing hallal, a new song, a hymn of spontaneous praise glorifying God in song”. Another (also seen here) includes: “Singing scripture to instruct and encourage”.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (p. 185) highlights four applications of the word. First, it may denote praiseworthiness (Deuteronomy 10:21, Isaiah 62:7). Second, the words or song used to express praise (Psalm 22:22,25). Third, a term for a song (see heading of Psalm 145). Fourth, deeds that are worthy of praise (Exodus 15:11).

I think this definition is clear if you have the definition settled for halal, which we covered before. This is basically the noun form of that verb. It is almost disingenuous to make it a separate word.

What is interesting to me are the two very different additions to the core definition of a song of praise we see in the P&W definitions. One says it is a “spontaneous” song and the other a “scripture” song. Honestly, I think the definition is broad enough to include both cases. I would take exception to the “spontaneous” song if I knew for sure it was used as an expression of prophetic worship (and I assume it is), but that is a whole other subject for another time.

An important appearance of this word is in one of earliest and most frequently used verses as a foundation for P&W theology: Psalm 22:3. I hope to deal with that verse more fully in the future, but I can say that if you see that verse applied to Christian worship I can practically guarantee you are dealing with some Charismatic theology or influence.

Zamar

  • Hebrew: זמר
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: H2167 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 45x total, 41x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: praise (26x), sing (16x), sing psalms (2x), sing forth (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root (perhaps ident. With zamar through the idea of striking with the fingers); properly, to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. Play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music — give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.

P&W definition #1: “Make music by striking the fingers on strings or parts of a musical instrument. When we play instrumentally to facilitate a holy atmosphere, it’s not just church cocktail music, it’s zamar.”

P&W definition #2: “‘Zamar’ means to pluck the strings of an instrument…. Zamar speaks of rejoicing. It is involved with the joyful expression of music. Zamar means to sing praises or to touch the strings. It speaks of involving every available instrument to make music and harmony before the Lord. It is God’s will that we be joyful. Use Zamar when you are rejoicing after God has done something great for you.”

By itself, zamar means to play a musical instrument (Psalm 33:2, 144:9), but it appears to be a more inclusive word including instrumental and vocal music, probably together. It is interesting to note that zamar occurs in the same (and sometimes adjacent) verses with other praise or musical terms in 39 of its 45 appearances:

  • 12x in the same verse with sir (Strong’s H7891, “to sing”) – Judges 5:3, I Chronicles 16:9, Psalm 21:13, 27:6, 57:7, 68:4, 68:32, 101:1, 104:33, 105:2, 108:1, 144:9
  • 11x in the same verse with yadah (Strong’s H3034, “to praise”) – II Samuel 22:50, Psalm 7:17, 18:49, 30:4, 30:12. 33:2, 57:9, 71:22, 92:1, 108:3, 138:1
    • 1x in close proximity to yadah – Psalm 9:2 (see vs. 1)
  • 4x in the same verse with halal (Strong’s H1984, “to praise”) – Psalm 135:3, 146:2, 147:1, 149:3
  • 2x in the same verse with nagad (Strong’s H5046, “to declare”) – Psalm 9:11, 75:9
  • 2x in the same verse with ranan (Strong’s H7442, “to rejoice”) – Psalm 9:11, 75:9
    • 2x in close proximity to ranan – Psalm 59:17 (see vs. 16), Isaiah 12:5 (see vs. 6)
  • 2x in the same verse with shachah (Strong’s H7812, “to worship”) – Psalm 66:4 (2x)
  • 1x in the same verse with anah (Strong’s H6030, “to answer”) – Psalm 147:7
  • 2x in close proximity to rua (Strong’s H7321, “to noise”) – Psalm 66:2 (see vs. 1)

This leaves only the 5x it appears in Psalm 47:6-7 and 1x in Psalm 61:8.

Since the preponderance of uses seem to combine instrumental and vocal terms, I think it is safest to assume it will generally mean a combination of the two. I think the fact that so many other terms appear around it means it is a very generic word.

Examining the P&W definitions, once again the core is close: we are certainly talking about instrumental and vocal music. This is certainly not creating an “atmosphere”: the worshippers here are active and not passive. It is also by no means glorifying “every available instrument”: only specific ones that were acceptable to the Jews are mentioned. I realize this again touches on larger topics that are outside the scope of this study. But that is part of why I am doing this study, because these P&W studies are putting ideas and thoughts into the text (eisegesis) that are simply not there.

Oh, and seriously… “cocktail” music”??? That reference is so absurd. I did need that laugh though.

See also this post.

Taqa

  • Hebrew: תָּקַע
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 8628 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 69x total, 2x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: blow (46x), fasten (5x), strike (4x), pitch (3x), thrust (2x), clap (2x), sounded (2x), cast (1x), miscellaneous (4x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to clatter, i.e. Slap (the hands together), clang (an instrument); by analogy, to drive (a nail or tent-pin, a dart, etc.); by implication, to become bondsman by handclasping) — blow ((a trumpet)), cast, clap, fasten, pitch (tent), smite, sound, strike, X suretiship, thrust.

This one is not found on many of the P&W lists I referenced, but the definition here is “Clap, applaud. Expresses joy and victory.”

Of course the reason why it is not on many lists is because it barely even occurs in context with worship. It is used to “blow a trumpet” 50x, but this is not musical. These trumpet blasts were signals and calls and far more primitive than more modern bugle calls used in the military. There is nothing about making music in these references.

Basically, this verb means to “hit or strike”. Look at its objects when it is used: nails, daggers, tents, darts. When using blowing a trumpet they are just sounding it, or “hitting a note” if I could be pardoned to apply that stretch here.

We have only one true reference to clapping (“striking hands together”) in Psalm 47:1. In Nahum 3:19 someone claps their hand over their mouth but that is quite a different thing. There are two additional references to clapping that use different words: II Kings 11:12, Isaiah 55:12 (see macha). We can see in those that there is a connection between clapping hands and joyous celebration.

Karar

  • Hebrew: כָּרַר
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 3769 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 2x total, 0x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: dance (2x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to dance (i.e. Whirl) — dance(-ing).

Defined simply here for P&W as “Dance. ‘David danced before the Lord with all his might.’ Expresses joy and celebration.

This word only appears in the account of David celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant in II Samuel 6. This is a singular act by a singular person at a singular time. To extrapolate this into a command to dance in worship is unsound at best. There are other words used for dance that we will get to, but since I find this word on a few lists I feel the need to cover it although it is essentially worthless in arguing for charismatic worship.

(I would recommend you reference Scott Aniol’s Changed from Glory into Glory: The Liturgical Story of the Christian Faith, p. 43-45, for better analysis of this. It’s too long for me to post here.)

Tephillah

  • Hebrew: תְּפִלָּה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 8605 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 77x total, 32x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: prayer (77x).
  • Strong’s definition: From palal; intercession, supplication; by implication, a hymn — prayer.

A very straightforward definition found here: “Prayer, often sung as intercession and petition.”

Okay, this the first word that we have looked at that I really don’t have any problem with. It means prayer, spoken (I Kings 8:28) or sung (Psalm 17 heading). Perhaps some P&W teachings go beyond this simple definition but the places I am referencing seem to have this one right if they mention it at all.

Todah

  • Hebrew: תּוֹדָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 8426 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 32x total, 12x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: thanksgiving (18x), praise (6x), thanks (3x), thank offerings (3x), confession (2x).
  • Strong’s definition: From yadah; properly, an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers — confession, (sacrifice of) praise, thanks(-giving, offering).

A P&W definition found here: “an extension of the hand, avowal, adoration, a choir of worshipers, confession, sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving”

Basically we have here the noun form of yadah. I will refer you to the previous examination of that word.

(Honestly, you can tell some of the foundation for these lists of “Hebrew words for worship” just got the words from a Strong’s concordance without really digging into them at all. Otherwise, words like todah and yadah would be classified together. See this article which couples todah, not with yadah as would be logically and grammatically correct, but with shabach.)

See also this post.

Shachah

  • Hebrew: שָׁחָה
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 7812 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 172x total, 17x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: worship (99x), bow (31x), bow down (18x), obeisance (9x), reverence (5x), fall down (3x), themselves (2x), stoop (1x), crouch (1x), miscellaneous (3x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to depress, i.e. Prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God) — bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

Your P&W definition, found here and here: “to depress or prostrate in homage or loyalty to God, bow down, fall down flat”

When we discuss worship I believe this is the key word. In a secular sense (which is about half of its uses), it means to “bow down”, as one would do in reverence to a ruler (Genesis 42:6, Esther 3:2). It is is sign of humility on the one bowing down and a sign of honor to the one bowed down to. It also implies service to something (Exodus 20:5).

This is not loud or ecstatic. It is quiet. It is not celebratory. It is reverential. It is not proud. It is humble. It is not accidental. It is intentional.

I like the image of bowing down. It puts all the glory and honor on the one being worshipped and not on the worshipper. We bow ourselves out of the picture and let all the attention and glory go to God. We worship according to His commands and expectations, not our own. That is true worship.

It does not require a band. It does not require being worked up into frenzy. It does not require a precursory time of praise. It does not require being at a church or even gathered with other believers. We simply acknowledge our ever-present God and His ceaseless majesty.

(Can you tell I preached a sermon on this not too long ago?)

Shir

  • Hebrew: שִׁיר
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 7891 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 87x total, 27x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: sing (41x), singer (37x), singing men (4x), singing women (4x), behold (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or (the original form) shuwr (1 Sam. 18:6) {shoor}; a primitive root (identical with shuwr through the idea of strolling minstrelsy); to sing — behold (by mistake for shuwr), sing(-er, -ing man, – ing woman).

A rather simple P&W definition found here: “strolling minstrelsy, to sing, singer (man or woman)”

This one is another very direct and basic word that essentially means “to sing”. The only real headscratcher to me is Strong’s addition of “strolling minstrelsy”, which appears to come from a similar root shur (Strong’s H7788) which means to journey or travel. I am not so certain this word means anything about being minstrel but may rather be a description of singing (changing tones and moving rhythms), perhaps related to the term shiggaion (Strong’s 7692). Again, I am no expert here, but I am not seeing anything similar to “strolling minstrelsy” in other reference works.

Alats

  • Hebrew: עָלַץ
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 5970 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 8x total, 4x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: rejoice (6x), joyful (1x), triumph (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to jump for joy, i.e. Exult — be joyful, rejoice, triumph.

This is another case where the action part of the word may be more figurative than literal. For instance, Hannah said: “My heart rejoiceth [alats] in the LORD” (I Samuel 2:1) We have a similar expression today in saying “our hearts leap for joy” which is figurative.

Alaz

  • Hebrew: עָלַז
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 5937 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 16x total, 7x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: rejoice (12x), triumph (2x), joyful (2x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to jump for joy, i.e. Exult — be joyful, rejoice, triumph.

A similar word and case to alats.

Anah

  • Hebrew: עָנָה
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 6030 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 329x total, 39x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: answer (242x), hear (42x), testify (12x), speak (8x), sing (4x), bear (3x), cry (2x), witness (2x), give (1x), miscellaneous (13x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; properly, to eye or (generally) to heed, i.e. Pay attention; by implication, to respond; by extens. To begin to speak; specifically to sing, shout, testify, announce — give account, afflict (by mistake for anah), (cause to, give) answer, bring low (by mistake for anah), cry, hear, Leannoth, lift up, say, X scholar, (give a) shout, sing (together by course), speak, testify, utter, (bear) witness. See also Beyth ‘AnowthBeyth ‘Anath.

Nothing crazy here. Basically means “to give attention to or answer”.

Chagag

  • Hebrew: חָגַג
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 2287 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 16x total, 2x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: keep (8x), …feast (3x), celebrate (1x), keep a solemn feast (1x), dancing (1x), holyday (1x), reel to and fro (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root (compare chagra’chuwg); properly, to move in a circle, i.e. (specifically) to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival; by implication, to be giddy — celebrate, dance, (keep, hold) a (solemn) feast (holiday), reel to and fro.

This means “to keep a religious festival or ritual”. The first reference in Psalms means to participate in or observe a Jewish festival (Psalm 42:4). The second means to dance or move as a drunk person (Psalm 107:27). Wide variety in those two.

Chuwl

  • Hebrew: חוּל
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 2342 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 62x total, 12x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: pain (6x), formed (5x), bring forth (4x), pained (4x), tremble (4x), travail (4x), dance (2x), calve (2x), grieved (2x), grievous (2x), wounded (2x), shake (2x), miscellaneous (23x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or chiyl {kheel}; a primitive root; properly, to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively, to wait, to pervert — bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow(-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded.

Used for “dance” in Judges 21 and nowhere else. Has the idea of “writhing” or “shaking”. The uses in Psalms are not noteworthy in our present study as they do not refer to worship.

Qol

  • Hebrew: קֹל
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 6963 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 506x total, 57x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: voice (383x), noise (49x), sound (39x), thunder (10x), proclamation (with H5674) (4x), send out (with H5414) (2x), thunderings (2x), fame (1x), miscellaneous (16x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or qol {kole}; from an unused root meaning to call aloud; a voice or sound — + aloud, bleating, crackling, cry (+ out), fame, lightness, lowing, noise, + hold peace, (pro-)claim, proclamation, + sing, sound, + spark, thunder(-ing), voice, + yell.

Basically means the sound something makes. Could be an animal (I Samuel 15:14), thunder (I Samuel 12:18), or water (Psalm 42:7). It does not necessarily mean something is loud, but doesn’t rule it out either. In many uses it means the human voice (Genesis 3:7, Psalm 3:4) or even God’s voice (Genesis 3:8, Psalm 103:20).

Kabad

  • Hebrew: כָּבַד
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 3513 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 116x total, 11x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: clap (3x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to rub or strike the hands together (in exultation) — clap.

“To be heavy”. Can be in the sense of honor (Exodus 20:12, Daniel 11:38) or glory (Leviticus 10:3, Psalm 22:23). Can be negative in these sense of hardening a heart (Exodus 8:15, I Samuel 6:6) or something extreme (Genesis 18:20, Isaiah 9:1). The most common use in Psalms is to denote glory (Psalm 86:9,12).

Macha

  • Hebrew: מָחָא
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 4222 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 3x total, 1x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: honour (34x), glorify (14x), honourable (14x), heavy (13x), harden (7x), glorious (5x), sore (3x), made heavy (3x), chargeable (2x), great (2x), many (2x), heavier (2x), promote (2x), miscellaneous (10x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to rub or strike the hands together (in exultation) — clap.

Used twice for anthropomorphic clapping (Psalm 98:8, Isaiah 55:12). I suppose someone may say those set some sort of precedent for clapping in worship since the rivers and trees are seen doing it, but there are better verses to build that case with. I would like to point out that both also appear to picture the earth celebrating the arrival of the Millennial Kingdom.

Used once for Ammon celebrating the Jew’s despair (Ezekiel 24:6).

Machowl

  • Hebrew: מָחוֹל
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 4234 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 6x total, 3x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: dance (5x), dancing (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: From chuwl; a (round) dance — dance(-cing).

The noun form of chuwl. Scott Aniol in Changed from Glory into Glory (p. 43-44) states that is is the only Old Testament term that corresponds to what we call dancing today. He describes it as a joyful folk dance of celebration. It is used to convey the idea of utter joy (Psalm 30:11, Jeremiah 31:13, Lamentations 5:15)

I also want to go ahead and note that the plural form of the word, mechowlah (Strong’s H4246) is used to describe the celebratory dancing after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20), Japhthah’s victory over Ammon (Judges 11:34), David’s victory over Goliath, (I Samuel 18:6, 21:11, 29:5) and in a more negative context in the worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). Scott Aniol does not differentiate between the singular and plural forms in his discussion. That isn’t a problem at all, but someone not paying attention and cross-referencing with a concordance may be confused since there will be multiple Strong’s numbers in play.

In discussing the uses of machowl and mecholah in Psalm 149:3 and 150:4, Aniol points out that the emphasis is not necessarily on corporate worship but rather on praising God at all time. In Psalm 149 for example, we see the times of praise including while the congregation is assembled (vs. 1), while the saints are resting in their beds (vs. 5), and while the nation is at war (vs. 6-9). In Psalm 150 we see praising God in His sanctuary (vs. 1) but also a command that every living thing should praise the Lord (vs. 6) which is a much broader application.

Mechowlah

  • Hebrew: מְחֹלָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 4246 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 8x total, 0x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: dance (5x), dancing (2x), company (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Feminine of machashabah; a dance — company, dances(-cing).

See previous notes on machowl. This is the the plural form of that word and is referenced in that discussion.

Nasa

  • Hebrew: נָסָה
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 5375 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 654x total, 48x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: (bare, lift, etc…) up (219x), bear (115x), take (58x), bare (34x), carry (30x), (take, carry)..away (22x), borne (22x), armourbearer (18x), forgive (16x), accept (12x), exalt (8x), regard (5x), obtained (4x), respect (3x), miscellaneous (74x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or nacah (Psalm ‘eb‘abad (‘abad)) {naw-saw’}; a primitive root; to lift, in a great variety of applications, literal and figurative, absol. And rel. (as follows) — accept, advance, arise, (able to, (armor), suffer to) bear(-er, up), bring (forth), burn, carry (away), cast, contain, desire, ease, exact, exalt (self), extol, fetch, forgive, furnish, further, give, go on, help, high, hold up, honorable (+ man), lade, lay, lift (self) up, lofty, marry, magnify, X needs, obtain, pardon, raise (up), receive, regard, respect, set (up), spare, stir up, + swear, take (away, up), X utterly, wear, yield.

A general verb meaning “to bear or carry”. In Psalms it used in many ways, including to lift up heads (Psalm 24:7), lift up hands (Psalm 28:2), bearing reproach (Psalm 69:7) taking or bringing (Psalm 72:3, 81:2), lifting up soul (Psalm 86:4), forgiving (Psalm 99:8), and lifting up eyes (Psalm 121:1). I think there usage is too varied to draw any concrete conclusions about worship solely from this word.

Nagan

  • Hebrew: נָגַן
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 5059 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 15x total, 2x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: play (8x), instrument (3x), minstrel (2x), melody (1x), player (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; properly, to thrum, i.e. Beat a tune with the fingers; expec. To play on a stringed instrument; hence (generally), to make music — player on instruments, sing to the stringed instruments, melody, ministrel, play(-er, -ing).

Means “to play an instrument” and by extension “those that play instruments.” Nothing earthshattering here.

Neginah

  • Hebrew: נְגִינָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 5058 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 14x total, 9x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: Neginoth (6x), song (5x), stringed instruments (1x), musick (1x), Neginah (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or ngiynath (Psa. ‘abal:title) {neg-ee-nath’}; from nagan; properly, instrumental music; by implication, a stringed instrument; by extension, a poem set to music; specifically, an epigram — stringed instrument, musick, Neginoth (plural), song.

Means “music of stringed instruments.” Found in the headings of multiple Psalms (4, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, 76) to note that those songs had musical accompaniment. The idea of musical accompaniment is also seen in Isaiah 38:20. There are a few cases that in their context show their music to be satirical or mocking in nature (Job 30:9, Psalm 69:12, Lamentations 3:14), but these applications shouldn’t define the other uses.

Patsach

  • Hebrew: פָּצַח
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 6476 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 8x total, 1x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: break forth (6x), break (1x), make a loud noise (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to break out (in joyful sound) — break (forth, forth into joy), make a loud noise.

This is a case where the Strong’s definition is taking into account the object or effects of the verb and ignoring the words actual meaning. Patsach means “to break or to burst”, as in the breaking of bones in Micah 3:3. It can then have an object that says what is breaking out. Five of the uses involve the anthropomorphic descriptions of the earth or nature “breaking out” and singing coming forth (Psalm 98:4, Isaiah 14:7, 44:23, 49:13, 52:9, 55:12). The lone use where it is people breaking out in song is Israel in Isaiah 54:1. It would be hard to apply this to our worship.

Pazaz

  • Hebrew: פָּזַז
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 6339 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 2x total, 0x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: made strong (1x), leaping (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root (identical with pazaz); to solidify (as if by refining); also to spring (as if separating the limbs) — leap, be made strong.

Strong’s definition is almost longer than the verses this word appears in. The NAS Exhaustive Concordance make it far more concise: “to be supple or agile”.

There are only two uses of this word in Hebrew Scripture. The first is in Genesis 49:24 in Jacob’s blessing of Joseph speaking figuratively about Joseph’s strength as being enhanced by God using the imagery of pulling back a bow string.

The second is when David was “leaping” as he danced before the arriving Ark of the Covenant in II Samuel 6:16. That lone appearance is why this word may appear on some of the more exhaustive P&W lists. For a deeper look at David’s dancing, see notes on karar.

Raqad

  • Hebrew: רָקַד
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 7540 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 9x total, 3x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: dance (4x), skip (3x), leap (1x), jump (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; properly, to stamp, i.e. To spring about (wildly or for joy) — dance, jump, leap, skip.

The best idea of this word is “skipping, jumping, or leaping”. We see chariots bouncing at high speed (Nahum 3:2, Joel 2:5), the children of the wicked dancing or jumping around (Job 21:11), animals leaping about (Isaiah 13:21), and anthropomorphized mountains and trees skipping like animals (Psalm 114:4, 114:6, Psalm 29:6).

I want to examine the two remaining cases where it means “dancing”. The first I want to note is in Ecclesiastes 3:4 where joyful dancing is the opposite of mourning. This is not prescriptive but descriptive.

The second case is, of course, David dancing before the Ark in I Chronicles 15:29. For a deeper look at David’s dancing, see notes on karar. (Spoiler: its not a command or example we are called to follow.)

Renanah

  • Hebrew: רְנָנָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 7445 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 4x total, 2x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: joyful voice (1x), joyful (1x), triumphing (1x), singing (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: From ranan; a shout (for joy) — joyful (voice), singing, triumphing.

The connotation of this word adds the idea of “rejoicing or joyfulness”. The two occurrences in Job 3:7 and 20:5 are not instructive in a study on worship. The two references in Psalm 63:5 and 100:2 are instructive that we should joyfully praise or God.

Rinnah

  • Hebrew: רִנָּה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 7440 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 33x total, 15x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: cry (12x), singing (9x), rejoicing (3x), joy (3x), gladness (1x), proclamation (1x), shouting (1x), sing (1x), songs (1x), triumph (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: From ranan; properly, a creaking (or shrill sound), i.e. Shout (of joy or grief) — cry, gladness, joy, proclamation, rejoicing, shouting, sing(-ing), triumph.

This word can be an expression of grief (Psalm 106:44, 142:6) or joy (Psalm 30:5, 126:5). Roughly 1/3 of the uses are expressing grief or desperation.

Rua

  • Hebrew: רוּעַ
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 7321 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 46x total, 12x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: shout (23x), noise (7x), ..alarm (4x), cry (4x), triumph (3x), smart (1x), miscellaneous (4x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to mar (especially by breaking); figuratively, to split the ears (with sound), i.e. Shout (for alarm or joy) — blow an alarm, cry (alarm, aloud, out), destroy, make a joyful noise, smart, shout (for joy), sound an alarm, triumph.

Rua essentially means “to shout” but is applied in varied ways. It is the shout of Israel when the circled Jericho in Joshua 6. It can be a cry of alarm (Numbers 10:7, Joel 2:1). It can mean shouting in triumph (Psalm 41:11, 108:9), which can also mean defeat (Proverbs 13:20).

As far as the uses in Psalms, we see shouting for victory and joy (Psalm 47:1, 65:13), the aforementioned triumphs (Psalm 41:11, 108:9), or the “joyful noise” (Psalm 66:1, 81:1, 95:1, 95:2, 98:4, 98:6, 100:1). To read more about the “joyful noise”, here is an GotQuestions.org article. I may need to revisit that in a future study.

Samach

  • Hebrew: שָׂמַח
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 8055 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 152x total, 52x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: shout (23x), noise (7x), ..alarm (4x), cry (4x), triumph (3x), smart (1x), miscellaneous (4x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; probably to brighten up, i.e. (figuratively) be (causatively, make) blithe or gleesome — cheer up, be (make) glad, (have, make) joy(-ful), be (make) merry, (cause to, make to) rejoice, X very.

This word means to “to rejoice” or “be glad or happy”. Not any controversy here that I see.

Sason

  • Hebrew: שָׂשׂן
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 8342 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 22x total, 5x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: joy (15x), gladness (3x), mirth (3x), rejoicing (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or sason {saw-sone’}; from suws; cheerfulness; specifically, welcome — gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing.

Pretty clear. No comments needed.

Raam

  • Hebrew: רָעַם
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 7481 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 13x total, 4x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: thunder (8x), roar (3x), trouble (1x), fret (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: A primitive root; to tumble, i.e. Be violently agitated; specifically, to crash (of thunder); figuratively, to irritate (with anger) — make to fret, roar, thunder, trouble.

I’ll be honest and I say that I don’t recall which list I saw this word on. I thought it was maybe here but its not. It must have ended on my list for a reason so I will go ahead and look at it.

This word means “to roar or thunder” or by extension “to tremble”. We see the roar of the sea (I Chronicles 16:32, Psalm 96:11, 98:7), literal thunder from the sky (I Samuel 2:10, 7:10), and God’s voice associated with thunder (Job 37:4-5, 40:9, II Samuel 22:14, Psalm 18:13, 29:3). The two references to being troubled or trembling are in I Samuel 1:6 and Ezekiel 27:35.

That’s all. Not sure why this would appear in a P&W Hebrew word list but I guess it did somewhere to make it on my list.

Shaon

  • Hebrew: שָאוֹן
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 7588 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 17x total, 4x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: noise (8x), tumult (3x), tumultuous (2x), rushing (2x), horrible (1x), pomp (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: From sha’ah; uproar (as of rushing); by implication, destruction — X horrible, noise, pomp, rushing, tumult (X -uous).

Picture a “tumultuous uproar” and that fits practically every appearance. This is never applied to praise to God and never used in a positive sense.

Though it appears on a list here, the listed references do not even contain the word (they appear to be for rua). Not sure why it would be listed unless they are pushing an idea of tumultuous or uproarious worship but the word is never used in a way to support that idea.

Shiyr

  • Hebrew: שִׁירָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 7892 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 89x total, 43x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: song (74x), musick (7x), singing (4x), musical (2x), sing (1x), singers (1x), song (with H1697) (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or feminine shiyrah {shee-raw’}; from shiyr; a song; abstractly, singing — musical(-ick), X sing(-er, -ing), song.

A generic word for “song, singing, or music”. I’ve got nothing to add. Moving on…

Sus

  • Hebrew: שׂוּשׂ
  • Verb
  • Strong’s: 7797 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 27x total, 9x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: rejoice (20x), glad (4x), greatly (1x), joy (1x), mirth (1x).
  • Strong’s definition: Or siys {sece}; a primitive root; to be bright, i.e. Cheerful — be glad, X greatly, joy, make mirth, rejoice.

Another straightforward definition. I’ve got nothing to add.

Teruah

  • Hebrew: תְּרוּעָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 8643 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 36x total, 5x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: shout (11x), shouting (8x), alarm (6x), sound (3x), blowing (2x), joy (2x), miscellaneous (4x).
  • Strong’s definition: From ruwa’; clamor, i.e. Acclamation of joy or a battle-cry; especially clangor of trumpets, as an alarum — alarm, blow(- ing) (of, the) (trumpets), joy, jubile, loud noise, rejoicing, shout(-ing), (high, joyful) sound(-ing).

Noun form of rua. I will refer you to that previous study for the meaning here.

Zimrah

  • Hebrew: תְּרוּעָה
  • Noun
  • Strong’s: 2172 – BibleHubSudyLightBlueLetterBible
  • Uses: 4x total, 2x in Psalms
  • KJV translations: melody (2x), psalm (2x).
  • Strong’s definition: From zamar; a musical piece or song to be accompanied by an instrument — melody, psalm.

Noun form of zamar. I will refer you to that previous study for the meaning here.

Book Review: A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship

As I have been preparing to teach a course on church music in the near future, I have been assembling a small library of books old and new. Some are practical, some philosophical, some historical. When I found out about the recently published (December 2021) book A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship I was intrigued, and when Scott Aniol recommended it, I knew I had to buy it.

I will be clear in the start that I am no fan or supporter of either contemporary or praise & worship music in church worship. I do not even enjoy either privately. I don’t think I am the target audience of this book at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The reason I can enjoy this book along with those that do love these modern worship trends is because it is all dealt with fairly and at “face value”. The authors do a fantastic job of letting the people and events speak for themselves without providing commentary. It is honest, straightforward history, which is a rare thing in Christianity today. I personally could not write something like this, as I would want to point out along the way all of the fallacies and flaws I found in the movements.

The authors trace the origins of modern church music to two sources that they describe as “rivers”. The first is Praise & Worship (I am keeping the ampersand since they purposely use it), which traces back the Latter Rain movement, a controversial offshoot of Pentecostalism in the 1940’s that has been widely influential in more recent Charismatic movements. The second is Contemporary Worship which has many tributaries, like the Jesus People and the Church Growth movement, which all attempted to make religion more accessible or relatable to modern culture. By the late 1990’s these essentially merged into the approach used in so many churches today.

I would label the two sources as “Pentecostal” and “Pragmatic”. The first focuses on praising to the point God shows up and then intimately worshipping Him. It is founded primarily on a novel interpretation of Psalm 22:3 and some unfounded typological conclusions regarding the Tabernacle(s). It is based on human experience, emotion, and expression. The second focuses on relevance to the world outside the church. It is founded on a misconception that the church must continually adapt to culture and a rather extreme application of I Corinthians 9:22. It is based on comfort, camouflage, and compromise. (See why I just can’t be impartial?)

There is hardly a page in my copy that I did not underline a name or note some statement in the text or footnotes. There is truly a wealth of information here, most of which I believe would surprise or shock conservative Christians.

Well-written, well-researched, and well-received, this book is a great read for anyone interested in the origins of, not just the music, but of the landscape of modern American Christianity.

On Typology

I’ll be honest and say that when it comes to Bible study I have generally avoided the area of Typology. But recently I have been studying, teaching, and encountering this system of Bible interpretation more than before. I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share on the subject.

Lewis Sperry Chafer defines it well in his Systematic Theology (Vol. III, p. 116-117):

A type is a divinely purposed anticipation which illustrates its antitype. These two parts of one theme are related to each other by the fact that the same truth or principle is embodied in each. It is not the prerogative of the type to establish the truth of a doctrine; it rather enhances the force of the truth as set forth in the antitype. On the other hand, the antitype serves to lift its type out of the commonplace into that which is inexhaustible and to invest it with riches and treasures hitherto unrevealed.

For example, so many wonderful types are found in the Tabernacle and its services that point to Christ. Indeed, this is almost certainly the primary application of Typology that you will find today. We could go on to speak endlessly on how the Passover lamb pictured Christ’s sacrifice. The books of Romans and Hebrews are full of types that use Old Testament references to highlight New Testament truths. Typology is a cornerstone of New Testament theology and Biblical interpretation.

But it is not without its limits or problems. This system of study has been greatly abused over the millennia. Quoting Chafer again (Systematic Theology, Vol. III, p. 116):

Typology, like prophecy, has often suffered more from its friends than its foes. The fact that extremists have failed to distinguish between that which is typical and that which is merely allegorical, analogous, parallel, happy illustration, or resemblance may have driven conservative theologians from the field. When truth is tortured by faddists and extremists, an added obligation is thereby imposed upon conservative scholarship to declare it in its right proportions. It is obvious that to neglect truth is a greater error than to overemphasize it or to misstate it; and typology, though abused by some, is, nevertheless, conspicuous by its absence from works Systematic Theology. That typology is neglected is evident from the fact that of upwards of twenty works of Systematic Theology examined, but one lists this subject in its index and this author has made but one slight reference to it in a footnote.

The safest interpretation of types and antitypes is to only claim as Old Testament types that which is explicitly states to have an antitype in the New Testament. For instance, Paul uses the first man Adam as a type of Christ (I Corinthians 15:21-22 and Romans 15:14-17). Another is Melchizedek (Genesis 14) who in Hebrews 7 is used as a type to reinforce Christ’s priestly role.

Yet, there are New Testament verses that apply typology very broadly. In Hebrews 9:8-12, we find that entire system of Tabernacle worship with its systems of sacrifices and varied ordinances points to the antitype of Christ’s redemptive work. The details are not given of how this applies to every aspect of the Tabernacle’s construction or the multitude of commandments in the Mosaic Law. It is clear that the Paschal lamb represents Christ, but what about the shewbread or the regulations concerning the differing types of sacrifices? We certainly know that the Bible is HIS story (Psalm 40:7, Hebrews 10:7). So then we are evidently left to discern these ourselves by the guidance of the Spirit.

But not every allusion to the Old Testament in the New Testament refers to a type. There are also illustrations, allegories, and analogies, to name a few. We must carefully discern among these.

So, let us develop of working theory of Typology.

  • First, it must be a connection of type and antitype, generally found in the Old and New Testaments respectively.
  • Second, the foundation for interpreting the relations of type and antitype must come from an emphasis on the antitype. We do not judge any truth about Adam on his typological parallels to Christ, but we do perform the opposite reaction.
  • Third, any supposition or hypothesis regarding the interpretation of a type and antitype must harmonize with the preponderance of clear Scriptural teaching. Just because a connection can be logically construed between two subjects does not give it the power to trump doctrine that is definitively and inarguably taught in Scripture.

Which brings me finally to the reason for this post. There are an error I encountered in the application of Typology that I wanted to mention. I doubt that I will be able to conclusively disprove it here, perhaps at a future time I will further develop my arguments to that level.

I encountered this problem while reading A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship by Lester Ruth and Lim Swee Hong. While discussing the development of Praise & Worship music in the Latter Rain movement, the authors highlight that one of the theological bases was Typology, specifically concerning Tabernacle.

  • “The linchpin of theological development within the Latter Rian movement of this period was a liturgical theology based on a typology.” (p. 46)
  • “Because the theology behind Praise & Worship was a typologically based theology, the identification of the key Scriptures and their interpretation as types was critical.” (p. 46)

The basis for their worship theology was a typological interpretation of the “tabernacle of David”. This not the Tabernacle of Moses, but the temporary dwelling place of the Ark of the Covenant from its arrival in Jerusalem in II Samuel 6 and the construction of the Temple by Solomon. There are verses that speak of the “tabernacle of David” being restored in Amos 9:11-12 and the quotation of Amos by James in Acts 15:15-17. How was this justified? Another quote (p. 47-48)

The result was a more highly developed theology featuring praise as the key to God’s presence in the church. or example, an instructor at Bible Temple’s Portland Bible College, Kevin Conner, wrote an influential textbook, The Tabernacle of David, that provided the most detailed hermeneutic to this theology. The core tabernacle of David passages mentioned above – both Old Testament and New Testament – along with a handful of other passages led to an emphasis on divine presence at the place of worship. The identification of this place as Zion reinforced the connection to praise and liturgical activity through a range of scriptural associations. The centerpiece of the original tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, was likewise central in the interpretation by being a type of Jesus Christ himself, who is present among his people, especially in their praise. The lack of reference to bloody animal sacrifices in the liturgical activity of the tabernacle of David, apart from the initial arrival of the ark, highlighted the centrality of perpetual praise as sacrifice, especially by an arrangement of priests whose work was now musical. The connection of the tabernacle and its way of worship to David reinforced the propriety of fully engaged, physically expressive, and musically offered Praise & Worship. In other words, a theology based on the restoration of the tabernacle of David took the earlier emphasis on the sacrifice of praise as the key to experiencing God’s presence and raised it to the level of a highly developed liturgical ecclesiology in which the church is a corporate priesthood that is praise-oriented and fulfills its priestly ministry in a musical manner.

There are, of course, problems with the system of Typology they are using, including.

  • There is no antitype, violating the primary rule of Typology. All emphasis is on examining the type but here is no clear antitype in the New Testament.
  • It assumes the “tabernacle of David” refers to the place the Ark was kept. In context, I believe (and so do most commentaries I have referenced) that this instead refers to the house or kingdom of David.
  • It assumes that restoration was occurring through them. This is part and parcel with their Restorationism, that is their belief that God was bring back true Christianity that had been lost for since the days of the Apostles through special revelation through their movement.
  • It conjectures that the worship at the “tabernacle of David” was all about praise and not about sacrifice or rituals. We simply do not have sound information on the approximately 40 years the Ark dwelt there until placed in the Temple. Much of details we see of David organizing the priesthood during this time was likely preparing for the construction of the Temple.

Similar errors are made in this same movement using Typology and the Tabernacle of Moses as a basis for a worship theology. They are not the only ones to do so. I have encountered in my recent studies on the Tabernacle many differing takes on the Typology of the Tabernacle, not all being soundly based with its antitype, Christ.

I close by echoing the words of Chafer quoted above. Typology can be a field of study that bears rich harvests to the believer today. But we must be careful and consistent it its application, and above all not let its abuse cause us to neglect its study. I certainly have been guilty of doing so.

The Pseudo-Fundamentalism of Today’s Reformed Movement

As we look back over the centuries, we can discern movements and counter-movements in the history of Christianity. One that easily discernable today is the resurgence in America of Reformed theology and tradition. I believe this is largely a reaction to the theological drift of American Christianity toward liberalism, “wokeism”, and (dare I say it?) apostacy.

So many Christians today are seeking more from Christianity than what a modern seeker-focused megachurches are teaching. They want deeper theology and richness in their Christian walk. Just hop on any social media platform and see these modern day Puritans denounce men, movements, and messages they deem as heretical and unscriptural.

What are these people turning to? In turning from the modern they seek the ancient. In turning from the emotional they turn to the logical. In turning from the shallow they turn to the profound. They are turning more and more to the the tenets of Calvinism and Reformed theology.

The influence of Charles Spurgeon in this is tremendous. Spurgeon himself reacted to the theological drift of his day by embracing the past preachers and theologians. He promoted the writings of the Puritans like no one else.

I see a parallel to this modern Reformed movement in the Fundamentalism of the early 20th century. I am certain they will crucify me for even suggesting that if they ever read this. But at that time so many across a broad spectrum of denominations were rejecting modernism and liberalism while embracing the “old time religion”. Fundamentalism was and is a reactionary movement to the theological drift towards liberalism. It was a movement towards conservative theology and historical practice.

The same things are are driving the modern Reformed movement. They are embracing and promoting practices such as singing of traditional hymns (even resurrecting some long forgotten ones) and the use of the liturgical calendar. I like to joke that Fundamentalism wants to keep things like they were in the 1950’s, but the Reformed movement honestly tries to keep their faith and practice in the 1700’s if not the 1500’s.

The modern Reformed movement and historic Fundamentalism are born of the same desires, reacting to similar concerns of theological drift, embracing traditionalist forms of worship, and rejecting unorthodox teachings and practice. Both promote the basis of Sola Scriptura in defining faith and practice. Both embrace their heritage, some of which overlaps as in the case of Charles Spurgeon. Today both can be seen taking similar stands on issues such as the use church music or their stances on abortion. You can watch these new and upcoming Reformed leaders come to the same realizations that Fundamentalism did a century before.

While they are similar, there can still be quite a bit of difference depending on what group you are examining. I, for one, reject the liturgical calendar as an unnecessary and extra-Biblical tradition. I reject the practice of infant baptism as unscriptural though classic Reformed theology promotes it. I reject the entire Calvinist-Arminian scale for measuring theology as outdated, unnecessary, and impractical. I reject much of the ecclesiology (I find the Baptist positions more in line with Scripture) and eschatology. I would not define the doctrines of election, predestination, or atonement the same as any Reformed theologian though thankfully I believe we are in agreement in “salvation by grace through faith”.

As a side note, the one area that I am surprised that the modern Reformed movement has not taken is the promotion and use of an historic translation of the Bible such as the KJV or the Geneva Bible. They have no problem reading authors or singing songs that read more like Shakespeare than any modern literature. I find it odd that in so many ways they embrace the theology, writings, and songs from the past yet use a Bible that does not reflect the same traditions.

To conclude, I believe what we are seeing in American Christianity is another repeat of a reaction to theological drift. Just as the Fundamentalists took at stand in the early 20th century against liberalism we are seeing Reformed leaders take a stand against apostacy in the church. These two are not the same but the similarities are striking.

II Samuel 15:7 – Forty Years or Four Years?

“And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron.”
II Samuel 15:7 (KJV)

“At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the LORD.'”

II Samuel 15:7 (NIV)

On Biblehub.com you will find 38 different translations of the Bible that can easily be compared to one another. 22 of these have forty years. This is not just a KJV issue as some portray it.

The division boils down to whether or not the Hebrew text stands on it own. I would not count myself an expert in ancient texts and languages by any stretch, but from those that give an honest take on this verse it appears the ancient Hebrew supports the reading of forty years. When referring to textual evidence supporting the reading of four years, much of the emphasis is placed on the writings of Josephus (late first century A.D.) or the Peshitta translation (maybe second century A.D.). Even the most studious critics seem to be unable to find textual evidence or variance in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts or text. One could argue that the error that has been passed down is not textual but interpretational.

The common argument made for four years is that it must have been an early copyist’s mistake. After all, they will argue, there is little difference between four and forty in Hebrew (compare Strong’s H702 and H705. The evidence they give is other scholars or translations that follow their own reasoning.

Let me say that I feel it is a dangerous precedent to simply assume the text must contain an error because it does not appear to make sense. It is purely subjective and places the authority not on God’s Word but in the mind of its human interpreter.

Since the entire argument for four years is based on the supposition that forty years does not make sense, I would like to propose that a reasonable argument made in the defense of forty has more weight since it has the authority of the Hebrew text behind it.

How Can Forty Years Be Explained?

There are a few different arguments that can be found in support of forty years. Let me list some that I have seen:

  • Absalom was forty years old. This is unlikely since he was born at Hebron after David was made king of Judah (II Samuel 3:3). Even it true, it would then place his rebellion in the final days of David’s forty-year reign (II Samuel 5:4), which does not fit in the scope of the Biblical account of that time.
  • It was the fortieth year of David’s reign. Again, this would place the revolt in a different time than the text places it and making it fit the chronology of David’s last years is practically impossible.
  • It was forty years since David had been anointed king by Samuel. This one is plausible according to the timeline in Reese’s Chronological Bible. The problem with it is tying the significance of David’s anointed in I Samuel 16:13 and Absalom’s rebellion.
  • It was forty years since David fought the Geshurites. This one is interesting and requires some imagination into Absalom’s motives. David’s attack on the Geshurites is briefly mentioned in I Samuel 27:8-9. Absalom’s mother Maacah was a Geshurite (II Samuel 3:3). So the theory goes that Absalom’s rebellion was a retaliation against David’s earlier attack against his mother’s people. However, we see little or no evidence in Absalom’s actions to suggest this to be the case. I don’t see it holding up chronologically since that attack would have come shortly before he was made king over Judah and thus falling into the same time issues as previous suggestions.
  • It was forty years since Israel requested a king. Since Saul reigned for forty years (Acts 13:21) that does not allow for enough time for this to be true.
  • It was just an “era of reckoning”. John Gill records this suggestion, basically that forty years just means a vague epoch. It would be odd to find such a singular occurrence here.
  • It was forty years since Saul slew the priests at Nob. Another suggestion recorded by John Gill. The chronology might work but once again there is no clear connection between this event and Absalom’s rebellion.
  • It is forty days and not forty years. The changing of the Hebrew words in this case seems to be less plausible than a change from forty to four as the the words for day and year are not closely related.

A More Reasonable Int

I think context is the key most often neglected in situations like this, and I believe it provides a very plausible reason for forty years being correct.

In II Samuel 15:1-6, we see Absalom playing the part of a politician in winning over the people of Israel. He was visible with an entourage of chariots and men, he poured out superfluous compliments, he planted the suggestion that he should be in charge. What was the end result?

“…so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” – II Samuel 15:6

Israel’s heart had turned from their present king (David) to a popular young rival (Absalom).

Let me point out that the phrase above directly precedes the verse we have been focusing on. Absalom had worked until he had Israel’s heart (vs. 6) then he puts his plan for a coup into action (vs. 7).

Here is my reasonable explanation for forty years being correct: Absalom had stolen the hearts of Israel which David had possessed for forty years. This is the bookend to David’s popular beginning as seen in I Samuel 18:16 – “But all Israel and Judah loved David… “

This holds up chronologically. Reese’s Chronological Bible (which has a footnote preferring four years) gives evidence for this alternative. He assigns Absalom’s actions in II Samuel 15 to 1026 B.C. He assigns David’s popularity after slaying Goliath (as seen in I Samuel 18:16) to 1067 B.C. That is a difference of forty-one years – well within a scope of reasonable probablity.

It fits thematically. Israel’s heart had once turned from their current king (Saul) to a popular young rival (David). That parallels what happens in II Samuel 15. In a sense we have Absalom as the anti-David. David did not seek the throne but Absalom greedily campaigned for it. David would not raise his hand against Saul, but Absalom will stop at nothing to reach his goal.

I also think there is a connection to the judgment against him after his sin with Bathsheba (II Samuel 12:1-14). David’s family and kingdom were never the same after that sin. Losing the hearts of the people may have been part of that judgment.

Concluding Thoughts

I like simplicity and I prefer simple solutions over complex ones. I do not think the theory holds up that some scribe wrote the wrong word down, that it was not caught, and that is came to dominate the Hebrew manuscripts available today. I prefer to assume that the words presented are the words God wants us to have. To me that is a matter of simple faith. When we come across an oddity, such as the one we have examined here, I think we would do well to trust in the Scriptures themselves. Men are fallible, God is not. Scholars may fail and even our own interpretations may fail, but God never fails.

What did David Do to the Ammonites in II Samuel 12:31 and I Chronicles 20:3?

“David Punishing the Ammonites” By Gustave Doré

II Samuel 12 is primarily about Nathan confronting David over sin with Bathsheba. Easily overlooked are the closing verses concerning the capture of the Ammonite capital of Rabbah by Joab and David. It is a fairly straightforward account: Joab has besieged the city and it is ready to fall, he sends for David to be there for the final assault, Rabbah falls to David’s forces, and David spoils the city including taking the king’s unwieldly crown that weighed over 100 pounds. The fate of the prisoners (likely the males of age to fight) in verse 31 is what is debated. The same events are covered in I Chronicles 20:1-3.

Depending on the translation or commentary you will find two opinions on what happened to the Ammonite prisoners. These are:

1. They are killed in a brutal manner.

2. They are enslaved and made to labor.

Which is correct? How can each be supported? What can we learn from about Bible interpretation in the process?

1. The Hebrew Verbs

In II Samuel 12:31, the word that is most important in this study is the root sim [H7760], translated as “put under” in the KJV. Englishman’s Greek Concordance shows it appears 583 times in the Old Testament. It is a simple verb with a many possible meanings based on its setting, but the basic definition is “to put, place, or set”. Basically this verb connects the Ammonites to the axes and iron implements. They were “put to” them.

But how were they “put to” those implements? A cursory look like above does not give a clear answer because the verb can be used in so many ways. We do find the same verb used to denote violence in Judges 7:22, where we find “…the LORD set [H7760] every man’s sword against his fellow…”. So we do have at least one example of the verb being used in a manner that would find with a violent interpretation of II Samuel 12:31.

In I Chronicles 20:3, we have another interesting verb – sur [H7787], translated as “cut” in the KJV. Strong’s defines it as: “A primitive root (identical with suwr through the idea of reducing to pieces; compare massowr); to saw – cut.” Some scholars speculate (with no textual evidence that I can find) that this word is perhaps a corruption of the verb from II Samuel 12:31 since only the last letter differs (see Jamieson-Fausset-Brown on I Chronicles 20:3). Just because the words are similar does not mean that a mistake was made, especially since the two passages do not perfectly mirror each other in all other details.

2. Regarding Brickkilns

Another important section of II Samuel 12:31 concerns the brickkilns. The Ammonites were made to “pass through” (KJV) them – the Hebrew verb root is abar [H5674]. This verb means “to cross over” or to “transition through”. Here the Ammonites are not “put to” something, but rather “put through” it.

Of note is that this verb is found in the exact same tense in II Kings 21:6 when it says that Manasseh “…made his son pass through the fire…”, which will be readily understood by an student of Bible history as a reference to child sacrifice to a pagan deity. To save time, I will refer those interested in more information on Molech to this article from GotQuestions.org.

Also of note is the word used for brickkiln – malben [H4404]. Some see this is not as the kiln itself but of a brick mold or shape, and they then make it a military formation that the Ammonites would have passed through as gauntlet (see John Gill’s commentary on this verse). I personally prefer a more literal than figurative approach to this word and believe it is the brickkiln itself.

3. Other References to Forced Labor

The idea of enslavement or forced labor is not unknown in the Old Testament. Let us look a few passages and see if we can shed light on our study.

Genesis 49:15 – “And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became [H1961] a servant [H5647] unto tribute [H4522].”

Deuteronomy 20:11 – “And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be [H1961] tributaries [H4522] unto thee, and they shall serve thee.”

Joshua 16:10 – “And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve [H5647] under tribute [H4522].”

Joshua 17:13 – “Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put [H5414] the Canaanites to tribute [H4522]; but did not utterly drive them out. 

Judges 1:35 – “But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became [H1961] tributaries [H4522].”

I Kings 9:21 – “Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice [H4522] [H5647] unto this day.”

So we see in these verses above that specific words can be used to denote force labor, but the words and phrases used in these verses are not the same as in II Samuel 12:31 or I Chronicles 20:3. This may not be conclusive in the settling the matter, but it does appear that if the Ammonites were forced into slavery the much clearer language seen above could or possibly should have been used.

4. What about the Gibeonites?

Joshua chapter 9 contains the story of the Gibeonites who deceived Joshua and Israel into making a treaty with them. They were spared destruction but were made made slaves, specifically “hewers of wood and drawers of water” (Joshua 9:21,23,27).

Some point to this case as proving the Ammonites were enslaved and not killed. However, closer inspection proves these two cases are very different. For instance, Joshua was being forced to honor a treaty with the Gibeonites. David had no such things limiting his actions.

The only bearing the case of the Gibeonites has on our present topic is that it could be seen as an historical precedent that David could follow. But we have no indication that David was under any obligation to do so. A much better precedent to examine would be David’s previous military campaigns in II Samuel 8. In these David is seen conquering, spoiling, and even performing executions (II Samuel 8:2).

5. Could the implements mentioned be used in torture?

Let us turn our attention to the implements mentioned in II Samuel 12:31 and I Chronicles 20:3. Are these best understood as tools or weapons?

We find four implements mentioned: saws [H4050], harrows [H2757], axes [H4037] and brickkilns [H4404].

Concerning saws it is pretty straight forward what they are and that historically they were used in executions. We have the tradition that Isaiah was killed through sawing and the reference in Hebrews 11:37 to saints that had been killed by such means.

The harrows are bit more clouded. We find the same Hebrew word used to describe the cheeses David took to his brothers in I Samuel 17:18, probably highlighting the idea of “something cut into pieces”. These could be agricultural threshing instruments (see Isaiah 28:7 and 41:15 which use a similar Hebrew word [H2742]) repurposed as instruments of war. Such devices would have used to separate grain from harvest plants by grinding, cutting, or beating. We find a reference in Amos 1:3 to the Syrians cruelly using such instruments on the people of Gilead.

The word for axes only appears in these two verses. It is generally understood to be a generic term for a cutting instrument. I am not sure we can dogmatically describe it beyond that.

Last, brickkilns will likely remind the reader of the fiery furnace of Daniel chapter 3. Executions by burning are abundantly common in history so such an idea as this is perfectly plausible.

So, we find that the four implements mentioned can be used both as work or military implements. Their appearances by themselves do not necessarily prove either of our proposed interpretations correct.

6. Jewish Code of War

I think the most relevant passage of Scripture to our inquiry is Deuteronomy 20:10-14 which gives instruction on what the Israelites were supposed to do when besieging a city. We find that they are first to offer a chance of peaceful surrender and if the city surrenders its people are to be work for or pay tribute to Israel (vs. 10-11). If this offer is refused then the city is to be besieged (vs. 12). When the city falls, every male inhabitant is to be killed (vs. 13) and the women, children, and all cattle are to be the spoils of war (vs. 14).

If David was following this prescribed order then he would have to kill all the adult males when the city fell, not enslave them.

Of note in this is that the adult males were to be slain and the women and children were left alive. This can explain how the Ammon was not annihilated in David’s campaign and continuing to exist as the rest of Scripture testifies.

6. The Character of David

We must address the question as to whether it was in David’s character to torture or execute the Ammonite prisoners. Those that favor him enslaving them may refer to David being a “man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22) and would be incapable of such an atrocity.

However, when we look at the history of David it is clear that was “man of war” (I Chronicles 28:3). The reason given for God not allowing him to build the Temple was that he had “shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars ” (I Chronicles 22:8).

Even as a warrior his actions at times may startle modern sensibilities. After slaying Goliath he kept the giant’s severed head as war trophy (I Samuel 17:54,57). He slew two hundred Philistines and gave their foreskins to Saul as a dowry to marry Michal (I Samuel 18:27). It seems to have performed some sort of systematic execution of the Moabites in II Samuel 8:2.

If David enslaved the Ammonites it would also be an aberration from his other wars. We see in the accounts of II Samuel 8 and 10 that David fought many battles and slew thousands of men. We see that he carried away great riches as the spoils of war. Even with kingdoms that he subdued into servitude (see Moab in II Samuel 8:2 or Edom in II Samuel 8:14 for examples) the language used is very different that that concerning the Ammonites.

It also worth considering the possible spiritual state of David at this time. It is difficult to say exactly when David conquered Rabbah but we do know that it coincides with his sin with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:1). It possible that the fall of Rabbah occurred before Solomon was born (II Samuel 12:24) if the account is arranged thematically around David’s in and not strictly chronological. So there is a possibility that Rabbah fell when David was in one of the lowest spiritual states of his life, between his affair with Bathsheba and Nathan’s confrontation. I suggest merely that it is possible that David’s aggressive behavior toward the Ammonites may have been fueled his weak spiritual state.

7. Lex Talionis

Another consideration is that justice at this period in the ancient world was typically performed according to the law of retribution, or lex talionis. The Scripture famously summarizes this as “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:24-25).

If David was following this judicial reckoning, would the Ammonites have committed some sort of heinous crimes to bring about their execution? There is evidence in the Scripture that they were an unusually cruel people. Nahash the Ammonite had demanded that the men of Jabeshgilead to not only surrender, but to also remove their right eyes as as symbol of reproach (I Samuel 11:1-2). Hanun, king of the Ammonites, cruelly mistreated peaceful envoys that David sent after the death of Hanun’s father (II Samuel 10:1-3). Some 250 years later, the prophet Amos denounced them because “they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead” (Amos 1:13).

The Old Testament world is quite different in some areas when compared to New Testament Christianity . We are today compelled to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) but that was not the law of the land in David’s time. We must remember that he was a man of his time and for his time, and as such would have acted in ways we simply cannot understand.

8. What Do Others Say?

Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews – “…but as for the men, he tormented them, and then destroyed them; and when he had taken the other cities of the Ammonites by force, he treated them after the same manner.”

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers – “In the infliction of these cruelties on his enemies David acted in accordance with the customs and the knowledge of his time. Abhorrent as they may be to the spirit of Christianity, David and his contemporaries took them as matters of course, without a suspicion that they were not in accordance with God’s will.”

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary – “To be thus severe in putting the children of Ammon to slavery was a sign that David’s heart was not yet made soft by repentance, at the time when this took place. We shall be most compassionate, kind, and forgiving to others, when we most feel our need of the Lord’s forgiving love, and taste the sweetness of it in our own souls.”

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary – “he brought forth the people … and put them under saws, &c.—This excessive severity and employment of tortures, which the Hebrews on no other occasion are recorded to have practised, was an act of retributive justice on a people who were infamous for their cruelties (1Sa 11:2; Am 1:13).”

Matthew Poole’s Commentary – “Put them under saws: he sawed them to death; of which punishment we have examples, both in Scripture, Hebrews 11:37, and in other authors. Under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron; he caused them to be laid down upon the ground, and torn by sharp iron harrows drawn over them, and hewed in pieces by keen axes. Made them pass through the brick-kiln, i.e. to be burnt in brickkilns. Or, made them to pass through the furnace of Malchen, i.e. of Moloch, called also Milchom, and here Malchen; punishing them with their own sin, and with the same kind of punishment which they inflicted upon their own children: see 2 Kings 16:3 23:10 Leviticus 18:21 20:2 Deu 18:10.”

Geneva Study Bible – “Signifying that as they were malicious enemies of God, so he put them to cruel death.”

Pulpit Commentary – “We cannot defend these cruelties, but they unhappily were the rule in Oriental warfare, and would have been inflicted on their enemies by the Ammonites. We have proof in l 1 Samuel 11:2 and Amos 1:13 that they were a barbarous race; but this did not justify barbarous retaliation.”

Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge – “Rather,… ‘And he put them to saws, and to harrows, and to axes,’ etc., as we say, to put a person to the plough, to the anvil, to the last, etc.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary – “The meaning therefore is, He made the people slaves, and employed them in sawing, making iron harrows, or mining, (for the word means both), and in hewing of wood, and making of brick. Sawing asunder, hacking, chopping, and hewing human beings, have no place in this text, no more than they had in David’s conduct towards the Ammonites.”

A.C. Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible – “What is recorded in verse 31 was cruel and barbarous. (However, there is a doubt about the translation. It has been rendered in the following way: ‘And he set them to saws and iron picks and iron axes and made them labor at the brick kiln.’) Ammon did horrible things to the women of Israel. (See Amos 1:13.) A fearful retribution came upon them. How often it has been repeated in history, even down to the 20th century with all its boasted civilization, now collapsed in the greatest and most awful war the world has ever witnessed. And thus it will continue to the end, till the true King comes.”

B.H. Carroll’s Interpretation of the English Bible – “The weight of authority seems to favor the ‘torture’ interpretation, and yet how readily does a humane mind turn in preference to Murhpy’s rendering [of enslavement].” Note – Carroll deals with this subject in greater depth than most commentaries and his assessment is worth reading in full.

Alfred Edersheim’s Bible History Old Testament – “The punishment meted out to those who had resisted was of the most cruel, we had almost said, un-Israelitish character, not justified even by the terrible war which the Ammonites had raised, nor by the cruelties which they seem to have practiced against helpless Israelitish mothers (Amos 1:13), and savoring more of the ferocity of Joab than of the bearing of David – at least before his conscience had been hardened by his terrible sin. And so David returned triumphant to his royal city!”

Further notes on this:

An observation that has been made by others is that ancient Jewish rabbis almost universally taught that David tortured and killed the Ammonites. I do not have access to many of these, but you can see this represented in the last post of this conversation on Reddit.

I would also like to say that in general the older commentaries and author favor the execution interpretation. There seems to be a transition around end of the 19th century and today’s newest commentaries and authors seem to favor the enslavement interpretation. This is just a personal observation.

As far as translations go, many newer ones favor the enslavement interpretation unless they are very literal translation. For an overview of different translation, check out Bible Hub’s pages on II Samuel 12:31 and I Chronicles 20:3.

9. My Conclusion

I feel confident in interpreting the information in II Samuel 12:31 and I Chronicles 20:3 as referring to the brutal executions of the adult male Ammonite prisoners. I believe that this interpretation stands best when examined under scrutiny. I think the language when taken literally supports it. I think it is fitting for the culture of the time. I think it fits in the consistency of Scripture.

I do find this as in interesting case study in how we interpret the Bible. I think the main argument against the execution interpretation is that appears inhuman to the modern Christian’s mind. If we are not careful, we then project our own philosophies into the words of Scripture. It is a classic case of exegesis vs. eisegesis.

10. Further Reading Online

The Secret Charismatic Invasion

Image by pangloy from Pixabay

I have been collecting material for the past few months to put together a course on church music for a nearby Bible college. If you know me, you will not be surprised that I am going overboard. The stacks of books on my desk and bookshelves (not to mention my growing Amazon wish list) will testify to this. However, I have been alarmed at the number of people who have recommended books on church music or worship that are written by openly charismatic authors.

Allow me to be careful of defining charismatic. Not every one of the authors or works openly claim that name. Merriam-Webster.com defines the noun as “a member of a religious group or movement that stresses the seeking of direct divine inspiration and charisms (such as glossolalia or healing)”. There are various Christian sects that promote the use of charismatic gifts such as healing, tongues, and prophecy. Historically, these generally stem from the Holiness or Restorationist movements in 1800’s America. The so-called Asuza Street Revival is the movement’s watershed moment.

Baptists have historically been cessationists, believing that the gifts of the Spirit were temporary and their use limited to the time of Apostolic leadership in first century Christianity. A key Baptist belief is the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture, which goes against the “continued revelation” of charismatic theology. I cannot say that charismatic Baptists do not exist (looking at you, Baptistcostals), but these are a minority – a growing minority.

Those last three words scare me. I am certain that one hundred years ago the use of ecstatic tongues by a Baptist would have been scandalous. Yet today, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention allows for its missionaries to practice the use of ecstatic tongues. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which promotes the use of tongues and other charismatic gifts, is sold by Lifeway and used in many Southern Baptist churches and institutions. This has not happened without notice or debate, but the trend is that groups like the SBC are becoming more accepting of and even promoting charismatic doctrine and practices.

Sadly, I am becoming more and more aware of the growing acceptance of charismatic doctrine and practice in Independent and Fundamental Baptist circles. While no one may be speaking in tongues in a church service yet, I am afraid the stage is set for that to soon become acceptable in those circles. The foundations have been laid for it to happen.

I want to share few thoughts on how charismatic doctrine and practices are infiltrating our churches and how we can guard against them.

1. Through Private Christian Liberty

I believe strongly in the liberty of the individual Christian believer. It is reiterated time and time again in Scripture and is a key concept of Baptist doctrine. We have liberty to serve God according to our consciousness of our personal relationship with Him.

But the danger of Christian liberty is its abuse. Liberty does not mean licentiousness. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1 that we are to: “Stand fast… in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…”, but shortly after that says in 5:13 that we should: “…use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Liberty has bounds. It is bound by love for each other, as we see in Galatians 5. It is also bound by the clear commands of Scripture. We see such an example see the case of gross sin of I Corinthians 5:1-2.

How has this allowed for an incursion of charismatic doctrine and practice? Simply because it allows for institutions (church, college, etc.) to have a strong, Scriptural stand against something while also allowing individuals leeway to have a different stand.

Let me give you the best example I know of: the use of a prayer language. The first time I was exposed to this idea was when a fellow teenage staff member at a Baptist summer camp who talked about doing it. This lesser form of glossolalia is generally not practiced in public so it may go unnoticed or overlooked. It is this practice that opened the door for the afore mentioned International Mission Board to accept speaking tongues. Let me warn you that was is practiced in private will eventually be practiced in public.

2. Through Music

As I stated in the opening paragraph of this post, my research on church music is what prompted this article. I am shocked at how charismatic philosophy and practice have infiltrated our churches through music.

It is not secret that contemporary praise and worship music is rooted in charismatic practices. The book Sing with Understanding (p. 313-314) ties the Praise and Worship style with a “charismatic Renewal” of the late 1900’s. It beginnings were simple Scripture choruses (“As the Deer”, “Seek Ye First”, etc.) that originated among charismatics in New Zealand in the late 1960’s. The use of these repetitive choruses was described in some churches as “with the objective of increasing the emotional fervor of worship to a point of ecstasy, often climaxed by shouted hallelujahs or speaking in tongues”. Other songs listed as coming from this source include “Alleluia”, “He is Lord”, “Majesty” and “This is the Day”.

This goes back further into historic charismatic practices. In Pentecostal or Holiness churches of the early 1900’s it would be normal to use music to “work up” the congregation. This would be done with emotionally-driven songs with swaying rhythms, fast-paced songs with driving beats, and encouragement to physically express yourself by raising hands, shouting, speaking in tongues, or rolling in the aisle. While those services may not have the modern synthesizers or stage setups of today’s charismatic churches, the essential elements and purposes are all present. The music drove the people to an emotional state of frenzy they called “worship”.

No matter how people may try to gird modern praise-and-worship-style services with sound theology or good intentions, they are fundamentally corrupted in their origin and design. They are built on manipulating the emotions of a worshipper into feeling and experiencing what they call a state of worship. No such practice or idea is found in Scripture.

The difficult part of discerning the charismatic influence in praise and worship music is because it is not highlighted. For example, Bob Kaughlin, head of Sovereign Grace Music, openly identifies as a charismatic in his book Worship Matters (p.86) though he prefers the term “continuationist”. He claims that he exercises the charismatic gift of prophecy as he sings spontaneously composed lyrics on stage. (p. 140). Yet, his book was recommended to me as often as any other. Sadly, his was not the only book with charismatic ties that was recommended to me.

3. Through Megachurch Influence

Who doesn’t want to be part of the biggest congregation with the nicest facilities? Many naïve Christian leaders have drunken from tainted waters in search of church growth idea. Combining this point with the previous on music, the book Te Deum (p. 315-316) states that many of the first megachurches like Willow Creek Community Church incorporated charismatic praise choruses into their “seeker sensitive” services. Other churches began to model after them and their perceived success and growth.

The earliest identified megachurches were often theologically conservative or fundamentalist. However varied they may be, the services at Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle or J. Frank Norris’s First Baptist Church of Fort Worth have little in common with the practices of similarly-sized congregations today. The modern megachurch trend has instead largely been built on promoting an experience rather than doctrine.

With this lessened emphasis on doctrine, many megachurches have downplayed or forsaken denominational ties. I just checked Outreach100.com‘s list of the largest churches in America. Today (1-21-22) only 5 of the top 20 have a denomination in their church name (Baptist, Christian, etc.) though many seem to have some denominational ties when you dig deeper. I have found it funny that nondenominational is itself a denomination now.

What is often hidden in this nondenominational branding is whether or not the churches are charismatic. Case in point, Gateway Church of Southlake, Texas. It is not something they promote (or detail in their public statement of faith), but the church and its leadership are charismatic. Pastor Robert Morris will speak or write on it from time to time. They are also now the home of The King’s University, a school founded by Pentecostal leader Jack Hayford. I was also told by someone who attended there a few times that they encountered a woman there who was prophesying – as in saying such-and-such will occur at such-and-such time and place. Yet most of this takes a backseat to the music and motivational messages so I honestly believe some who attend there do not even realize what sort of church it is.

Book Review – “In the Name of God”

I heard months ago from Raymond Barber that O.S. Hawkins was writing a book on Norris and Truett. I was very excited to hear that since Hawkins had written an article about Norris and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To hear someone within the SBC take a objective view on Norris’s ministry is quite rare.

In the Name of God: The Colliding Lives, Legends, and Legacies of J. Frank Norris and George W. Truett is published by B&H Academic. It is 213 pages long, with 152 of those being the text and the rest endnotes, bibliography, etc. List price is $29.99.

Before I begin my review, I want to acknowledge that this very website is cited as a source (see pages 64, 164, and 206) – which is so exciting for me! Having studied, collected, and written about Norris off and on for 15+ years there is a sense of vindication when you see your work cited in print. Even if it was just a reference to membership number at the First Baptist in Fort Worth which I had compiled from various sources and not something really original it still excites me. So much more so than the time this site was cited on Wikipedia. Anyway, I will note that the particular page that is referenced is not currently available. I did not put it back up after I switched over to WordPress. Guess I need to fix that.


In the annals of Southern Baptists, the name of Truett has been revered and the name of Norris reviled. Hawkins’s objective approach in this book is that there is a much more balanced view that needs to be taken of the two. The two men are so easily compared and contrasted – they ministered some 30 miles apart, their paths intersected often, they were both leading pulpiteers, they both led in building some of the earliest megachurches, and so on. This is not the first work on the subject, nor will it be the last.

Hawkins does spend far more space dealing with Norris than Truett. That is because the main thrust of this book, though many will argue and refuse to acknowledge it, is that Norris’s impact on the SBC today is greater than Truett’s. Chapter 5 – “The Influence of J. Frank Norris on Modern Southern Baptist Theology, Church Growth, Evangelism, and Practice” is the best in the book. The previous chapters are largely background for this analysis. The Baptist historian Leon McBeth had written that Norris “had no constructive part in Southern Baptist ministries in this century.” Hawkins takes him to task, even calling out that statement five times with clear examples of its error.

Hawkins is clear that the ministry and personality Norris are complex. He does not paint him as a hero nor a villain. He is objective and analytical in his approach. But he shows that Norris was right on many issues, which is difficult to find SBC writers to acknowledge. Norris’s tactics and combativeness have distracted many from seeing that in so many ways he was right.

Some points of controversy are finally addressed, such as whether Norris was valedictorian at Louisville and if Norris gave rotting fruit to SBTS staff. I will say that Hawkins does take the word of Norris and Entzminger with less skepticism than I would expect since they can embellish things a bit.

I will say that I find the writing to be uneven. Sometimes it sounds very much like a sermon with elaborate and unnecessary alliteration. A couple of sentences I honestly had to reread a few times because they felt incomplete. It is not academic or dry by any stretch. Overall an enjoyable read.

The book is well sourced (and I am not saying that because my website is referenced). However, I get the feeling that not everything in the lengthy bibliography was actually referenced in the making of this book. I cannot prove that statement, just a hunch. I compared it to my own Norris bibliography that I have been working on in an attempt to compile an exhaustive list of resources and especially Norris’s publications. Many of these books and pamphlets are extremely hard to find. It took me years to find copies of some of them. So many of them I have never been able to locate copies of and I simply have recorded their reported existence. Yet I find all but a handful listed in Hawkins’s bibliography regardless of their relevance to the subject. Perhaps he is, like me, merely acknowledging the existence of the works. I sincerely doubt he has actually referenced them all.


There are some finer points that he does get wrong. Speaking of Norris heading to Baylor University on p. 23, Hawkins writes: “No evidence exists to show how he acquired the resources for this journey and his initial college expenses…”. However, Ray Tatum (whom Hawkins references multiple times) wrote: “…Frank presented himself in the small office of the family doctor, W.A. Woods, and told him, with confidence, of his aspirations to attend Baylor University. He asked the doctor for a loan of one hundred dollars, and received ‘one hundred and fifty.'” (Conquest or Failure?, p. 42, with a citation from a 1945 article in The Fundamentalist)

Another example that Hawkins either missed or simplified is that impact of Louis Entzminger on Norris’s ministry. He credits Norris with influencing Arthur Flake’s Sunday School system (p. 111-113). It was not Norris that invented that system, but Louis Entzminger who arrived in Fort Worth in 1913 to build that Sunday School system. Entzminger is also the man who convinced Norris to adopt Premillennialism.

Some other things he is wrong on or curious:

  • Repeats the unfounded rumor that Norris killed his father-in-law (p. 27). The endnote highlights the suspicious nature of the accusation.
  • J.T. Pemberton’s name is misspelled as Pemperton repeatedly (p. 27 and so on).
  • Attributing “multisite campuses” to Norris (p. 110, 136). Norris had to be creative in finding places to meet or to hold the crowds but these were never satellites of his churches – they were the same church meeting in different places.
  • Saying that Norris “wrote” commentaries (p. 129). These were lectures he gave so writing may be a stretch.
How to spell Pemberton

I also would like to take issue with a couple of statements made about Norris’s legacy. On page 144: “In the end, much of what Norris stood for diminished. His network of churches was repeatedly divided across the decades and is virtually unnoticeable today.” [emphasis added]. Splintered, yes. Unnoticeable? Only to those who do not look. Strong SBC bias against Independent Baptists there.

Also I would like to take issue with the statement in the end notes on page 160: “The remnants of Norris’s seminary still exist today…” [emphasis added]. Remnants? That is a loaded word and surely a better one could have been used.

I suppose we can give Hawkins a pass on some of this. He is many things but a professional historian is not one.


Lest you think otherwise, I do really like this book. Hawkins’s approach and perspective is a welcome one.

I like what Hawkins brings out when he compares Norris and Truett. Norris was for “doctrinal fidelity” and Truett for “denominational loyalty”. Norris reveled in conflict, while Truett stayed aloof from it. Norris preached with passion and animation, Truett with precision and dignity.

There is little new ground covered in chapters 1 through 4. We have brief histories of Dallas and Fort Worth, biographies of Norris and Truett, and synopsis of their conflicts and interactions. You will readily find better and deeper resources for the material, except maybe the presentation of the information in chapter 4. Chapter 5 is, again, the best in the book and a welcome addition to catalog of Norris research available. That chapter could only be written in today’s time with the perspective gained over the decades.

I was very glad to see the relationship between Norris and B.H. Carroll emphasized. Too little study has been done on it.

I absolutely love this perspective on page 148: “The fact that the church [First Baptist of Fort Worth] did, indeed, fragment after his death proved to be a blessing to many sister churches as Bible-believing men and women dispersed to find their places in the local churches of their city, thereby multiplying the ministry and lasting influence of J. Frank Norris many times over.” So true. The fragmentation of the Norris empire did not weaken it, instead it multiplied it.

Final verdict: Despite my nitpicking, this is a worthy and welcome addition to anyone’s library with interest on the SBC or Norris. I think the list price of $29.99 is far too steep so maybe everyone should wait for used copies to become available.