Blogging Through The Psalms
Today, I begin a new journey of blogging through the Psalms. What does that mean exactly? Well, to be quite honest, I am not sure. I confess I am attacking this writing assignment with no well-laid out plans. In other words, I am not sure where I am going, but I am excited about the journey.
As the year began, I took Eugene Peterson’s recommendation (Working the Angles, p. 54 ) and began reading the Pentateuch and the Psalms together. He proposed that the Psalms are the prayer response to God’s Law. Thus, they should be read in tandem with the first five books of the Bible. So, for the past 2 1/2 months, I have done just that. Each morning, I read several chapters from the Law and then a Psalm. I have to admit that I have been “blown away” by how they cohesively tie together.
These past 2 1/2 months of immersing myself in the Psalms have led me to realize that there is a depth to the Psalter that I had never recognized. Like for many of you, the 150 Psalms have always been a source of inspiration and comfort, but I am beginning to realize that they are so much more. That is what I hope to explore through these blogs. My prayer is that God will open our eyes, our hearts, and our souls, so that the Psalms help us to understand and relate to God like never before. So, let’s go!
In this week’s blog, I will give a brief overview, that I trust will give us a foundation for future articles. Here are some basic facts about the Psalms that you need to know in order to grasp the message of this book.
1. The title comes from the Greek and the Latin translations. The Septuagint (The Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses the word Psalmos, and the Latin Vulgate, which the church used during the Middle Ages uses the word Psalmus. Both of those terms mean “a song sung to the accompaniment of stringed instruments.”
2. The Psalms is an anthology, which is a published collection of poems or other writings. It is only one of two (Song of Solomon) anthologies in the entire Bible.
3. The Psalms were not written by one author. Rather, they are a collection of poetic songs written by a variety of composers from the time of Moses till after the Babylonian exile. Of course, David wrote the majority of them, but other authors include the Sons of Korah (11 psalms), Asaph (12 psalms), Solomon (possibly two psalms), and Moses (one). Other psalms do not identify the author at all.
4. The Psalms take the basic themes of Old Testament theology and turn them into song. Thus, the Israelites frequently sang about God’s character, His creation, His election, His covenant and His plan for the future. What a way to learn who and how God is!
5. The Psalter is divided into five books: • Book 1 – Psalms 1-41 • Book 2 – Psalms 42-72 • Book 3 – Psalms 73-89 • Book 4 – Psalms 90-106 • Book 5 – Psalms 107-150
6. There are seven different genres or types of Psalms. Knowing these different categories will greatly aid in understanding and personal application. •
• Hymns – These were songs that were sung when all was well. They are easily recognized by their passionate praise for the Lord. (Pss. 8; 19; 29; 33; 65; 67; 68; 93; 96; 100; 111; 113; 114; 117; 135; 145; 146; 147; 148; 149; 150) •
• Thanksgiving Psalms – These psalms focus on what God has done in the recent personal history of the psalmist. Specifically, they refer to times when God answered a prayer. (Pss. 18; 30; 34; 40; 41; 66; 92; 118; 124; 138) •
• Laments – Laments were written to express doubt, confusion, sorrow or loss. In a lament the psalmist honestly shared his heart with the Lord. After expressing his pain, the psalmist turns to the Lord with faith and confidence. (Pss.3; 5; 7; 13; 17; 22; 25; 26; 27; 38; 42; 43; 51; 54; 55; 56; 59; 61; 63; 64; 70; 71; 74; 79; 80; 83; 86; 89; 102; 109; 120; 130; 140; 141; 142)
• Psalms of Trust – These are psalms written during times of trouble, but the psalmist is completely confident that the Lord will deliver him. (Pss. 16; 23; 27; 62; 73; 91; 115; 121; 125; 131)
• Royal Psalms – These Psalms are sometimes called Kingship Psalms. They highlight the righteous reign of God both on earth and in heaven. (Pss. 2; 20; 21; 45; 61; 63; 72)
• Wisdom Psalms – These Psalms are similar in nature to other Wisdom Literature found in Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. They give admonitions, blessings and sayings. They also point out the importance of the fear of the Lord and knowing the way of the righteous. (Pss. 1; 19; 32; 34; 37; 49; 73; 112; 119; 128)
• Imprecatory Psalms – The Psalms cry out for the righteous to the vindicated and for the wicked to be punished. They are some of the most graphic requests in the Psalter. (Pss 5; 6; 11; 12; 35; 37; 40; 52; 54; 56; 57; 58; 59; 79; 83; 94; 137; 139; 143)
Of course, one of the greatest purposes and benefits of the Psalms is in guiding our prayer life. One author described the Psalms as the words of the congregation expressed to God in contrast with the Words of God expressed to His people. In the Psalms God actually gives us the words to say back to Him. I do not believe there is a more helpful guide to prayer in the Scriptures than the Psalms.
Finally, we will take a deep dive into how the Psalms point us to Jesus. In Luke 24:44 Jesus mentions that the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms all spoke of Him. In other words, the Psalms were written by Him, about Him and for Him.
Let me invite you to join me on this journey. We will have a new article each week. It will be posted on our web site and we will send you the link through our weekly email. Once again, my prayer is that God will open our eyes, our hearts and our souls, so that the Psalms help us to understand and relate to God like never before.
Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!