Why Psalm 40:1-3 Does Not Justify Using CCM to Evangelize Lost People

October 30, 2014

I have been closely following another lengthy online discussion about CCM. One participant in this discussion recently asserted that Psalm 40 justifies using CCM to evangelize lost people. He wrote,

The “new song” which God puts in our hearts may very well change with each generation. You have no right to determine subjectively what that means. You certainly have the right to hold to your position on music as preference, but if God has given us a “new song” which “many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord,” it destroys one of the key IFB arguments against CCM–“Music is never used for evangelism, only for edification.” With each generation, God has given a new song to communicate His truth to this generation. The style may not speak to the spirit of my heart, but it will speak to the heart of someone else who needs the message of the Gospel. I have no right to put God into a box and tell him He cannot use a certain style of music.[1]

A close look at two key aspects of the beginning verses of Psalm 40 shows why this argument is erroneous.[2]

The Identity of the Person Giving Testimony in Psalm 40:1-3

Psalm 40 begins with the following testimony:

Psa 40:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.> I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

From these verses, we know for certain that king David is the one who is giving this testimony.

Is this, then, an evangelistic testimony of how he became a true believer in the Lord or is it something other than that? Answering this question properly requires that we closely examine the precise nature of his testimony in these statements.

The Nature of the Testimony Given in Psalm 40:1-3

David begins by declaring, “I waited patiently for the Lord” (Ps. 40:1a). He then affirms how the Lord inclined Himself to David and heard his prayer (Ps. 40:1b-c).

Scripture never affirms that any unbeliever waits patiently for the Lord; in fact, they have turned away from Him and do not on their own want anything to do with Him (Cf. Rom. 3:10-18). The opening statement in Psalm 40, therefore, makes plain that this is not an evangelistic testimony that David gave about how he was saved—David is testifying of what he did as a true believer in the Lord and of the Lord’s response to him!

Not only is verse one therefore not an evangelistic testimony but also verses two and three therefore are also not verses relating David’s giving an evangelistic testimony; rather, they are his testimony as a believer of how God delivered him out of dire straits and filled his heart with a new song of grateful praise for His delivering him as a believer. This analysis shows that the reference to a “new song” in Psalm 40:3 does not have anything to do with giving lost people the gospel in song so that they will come to be true believers in the Lord.

Conclusion

Contrary to the confident assertions cited at the beginning of this post, the teaching about the “new song” in Psalm 40 does not provide any evidence that “destroys one of the key IFB arguments against CCM—‘Music is never used for evangelism, only for edification.’” A sound handling of Psalm 40:1-3 shows that it does not have anything to do with evangelizing lost people using a new song.

Psalm 40:1-3 does not justify using CCM to evangelize lost people. Those who believe that it is legitimate to use CCM to give the gospel to lost people cannot use this passage legitimately to support their view.


[1] Comment posted on October 14 at 10:08pm in the discussion, “The Sacred Cow” of CCM! 2-Part Discussion Question:”; https://www.facebook.com/groups/319245621580408/permalink/331652423673061/

[2] I am indebted to my pastor, Dr. Mark Minnick, for how his treatment of this passage in a message helped greatly to provide me with this proper understanding of the true nature of the testimony given in Psalm 40:1-3.

For more help with issues concerning CCM, please see the resources that I provide here.

Rajesh

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2 responses to Why Psalm 40:1-3 Does Not Justify Using CCM to Evangelize Lost People

  1. Dr. Gandhi,

    So much trouble for ourselves and the church could be avoided if we would be willing to do what you have done here, determine the context of Scripture and submit our notions to its boundaries. Thank you.

    We all are tempted to conjure up ideas or notions and then, in foolish confidence, search the Scriptures to find what appears to support our idea. And maybe now and then we will but generally it leads to what you uncovered, here, sloppy hermeneutics. May we, instead, open our hearts and derive our notions from the text of Scripture and what it says should be our thoughts and views.

    God’s grace and even greater enlightenment to you

    AG

    • You are welcome, Alex. Thanks for your encouraging feedback. The Lord used my pastor to bring me to understand this key truth about Psalm 40:1-3 several years ago. May He see fit to use this information to help many more brethren understand correctly what He has communicated to us in this wonderful passage.

      The Lord be with you.

      Rajesh