Title: Preaching the Psalms in the New Covenant - 3Text: Psalm 69
My first task will be to point out some of the contemporary problems in our preaching of thePsalms. And then my next task in Part 1 of this presentation is to look at the hermeneuticsinvolved in the sermoncraft surrounding the Psalms. In Part 2 of this presentation, I willattempt to model what we have discussed in preaching Psalm 69. I also pray that ourconsideration of Psalm 69 will be a fitting conclusion to our time together this week.
5 contemporary problems regarding preaching from the Psalter
I have listed seven, very brief reasons that we tend to miss the New Covenant significance inour preaching of the Psalms. These are all interrelated, so as I listed these it occurred to me thatsome might find these things arbitrary. But I want to put these in front of us as I thought aboutthem and maybe these will be of help to us as we consider preaching from the Psalter in light of New Covenant Theology.
we (evangelicals) don’t tend to take the New Covenant into account when wepreach the Psalms is one we’ve already mentioned. Too often the Psalms are simply understoodand subsequently preached as devotional material. This isn’t to say that the Psalms are notdevotional. The Psalms are intensely personal. We empathize with the real life grit that givesrise to both lament and praise. The Psalms are indeed “messages of hope and comfort”
for theNew Covenant community. But when we simply leave it at that, we miss the upward andforward view of the Psalms. We miss the Psalms’ bigger message.
is that we often preach the Psalms with the individual at the center of ourinterpretation. Again, this isn’t to say that the Psalms do not speak to the plight of theindividual in a world gone wrong. But I think we are not often aware in our preaching of thePsalms, and indeed the Old Testament, how much our rugged American individualism iscoloring both our exegesis and our preaching.Again, the Psalms are deeply personal. One cannot approach the Psalms, especially the Psalmsof Lament, without feeling a sense of kinship with the author and his plight. Many of thePsalms are written in the first person, and many of those Psalms are “the prayers of a person introuble.”
Geerhardus Vos is correct when he says, “Subjective responsiveness is the specificquality of these songs.”
But sermons from the Psalms today too often fail to go beyond the personal plight of theauthor, as if the personal crisis of the psalmist is an end to itself. Carl Bosma notes that the"biographical-psychological approach to the Psalms…concentrates its attention on the uniqueexperience of the individual authors".
That approach dominates the homiletical landscape.
(Larondelle, 1983), p. 1
(Vos, 1920); the larger quote in Vos’ “The Eschatology of the Psalter” is this: "The deeper fundamental characterof the Psalter consists in this that it voices the subjective response to the objective doings of God for and amonghis people. Subjective responsiveness is the specific quality of these songs. As prophecy is objective, being theaddress of Jehovah to Israel in word and act, so the Psalter is subjective, being the answer of Israel to that divinespeech."