SHOULD WE CLAP HANDS IN WORSHIP?
That’s a good question. But before answering, let us consider three fundamental facts:
• First, what is worship? Worship is an expression of love, an adoring gratefulness to God. It is not left to man to decide how to worship God. He has revealed this through His word, the Bible. Therefore, we need to turn to the Bible to see what it has to say about clapping in worship.
• Second. we are now living under the New Testament: Therefore, to learn what we must do today in worship, we do not turn to the Old Testament, but the New Testament (Hebrews. ; 8:7; ).
• Third. there are two kinds of commands: generic and specific: We can go (Mark ) by car, plane, boat, .or by radio and TV. How we go is not specified. On the other hand, the Lords Supper names particular the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (1 Corinthians -25). That is specific. We have no choice.
Now, what does the New Testament say about clapping in worship? NO word? Nowhere in the New Testament is “clap” or “clapping” used in connection with worship. It is used several times in the Old Testament and twice it is used in connection with praising God (Psalms. 98:8; 47:1). The first passage is used metaphorically speaking of the “hills clapping.” The other is perhaps also used poetically. But, even if meant in a literal sense, it has no more connection with our worship in this Christian age than does the offering of incense, the sacrifice of animals, or instrumental music.
In the New Testament worship we are to “praise” God. This word is translated from a word which could also mean applaud. Now, does this permit applauding or clapping hands in worship? Is it permissible to say, “Give God a hand?” is this what God wants?
The answer is that God is very specific when it comes to the praise we are to offer to Him. According to Hebrews God requires something very specific: “By Him (i.e. Christ) let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips praise to His name.” Here He reveals to us how we are to praise Him. It is with the “fruit of our lips.” Not the clapping of the hands, but by the movement of the lips. That is specific. But, God is even more specific.
We can make many sounds with our lips, we can whistle, hum or mimic instruments of music. What sounds does God require as we move our lips in offering praise to Him? In Romans 15:9 we have the specific answer: “..... Therefore will I give praise unto Thee among the Gentles, and sing unto Thy name.”
Here, singing is specified as the offering of the “fruit of the lips” in praising God in worship. Therefore, clapping is wholly out of order.