Introduction: An Invitation to the Psalms

Part I The Psalms Then and Now

1 The Genres of the Psalms

2 The Origin, Development and Use of the Psalms

N o w that we have learned to detect different types of songs in the Psalter, we stand amazed, not only at the many different types, but also at their apparent lack of order! If we start reading with Psalm 20 and continue in order, we encounter an individual lament, a kingship hymn, a second lament for the individual and a psalm of confidence. Why are the Psalms in this apparent disorder? This question leads to a second, related question. How did the individual psalms come into being? Did David write all of the poems? If not, then who did? Last, how were the Psalms used by the Old Testament people of God? The answer to this question will be the first step toward solving how we, as God's new covenant people, should use them. These are the questions this chapter will explore—questions of the origin, development and use of the Psalms. Of course, there are many aspects of this question which we cannot answer. We get only rare glimpses of the Hebrew psalm writers in action. But the Psalter and the historical books of the Old Testament do provide some clues.

3 The Psalms: The Heart of the Old Testament

4 A Christian Reading of the Psalms

5 The Psalms: Mirror of the Soul

Part II The Art of the Psalms

6 Old Testament Poetry

Understanding Parallelism

8 Imagery in the Psalms

Part III A Melody of Psalms

9 Psalm 98: Let All the Earth Praise God, Our Warrior

We have c o v e r e d much ground since the first chapter. We have looked closely at the Psalms by asking how elements of poetry such as parallelism and metaphor communicate to us. We have also studied whole psalms and observed that they fall into about seven different genres. We even discussed how the Psalms relate to the rest of the Bible and also to our lives. Along the way we have used examples of each point made. In addition, through the exercises at the end of the chapters, we have been applying the principles of interpretation taught in this book. To bring matters to a close, however, we will examine three psalms in more detail. Even by restricting ourselves to three examples, we will not have space to study them exhaustively. Only occasionally will we be able to closely describe the parallelism. Our analysis, however, will always be based on this kind of close reading. I hope that the following comments will stimulate your further meditation on these psalms and on other similar psalms. In this chapter we will study Psalm 98, a hymn of praise to

10 Psalm 69: Lord, I Suffer for Your Sake

The lives of obedient Christians are always fulfilling, but never easy. As Christians, we have something which the world lacks—Christ who brings meaning to our lives. Nonetheless, as long as we are in the world we will confront hostility, frustration, fear and danger. The laments speak to us when we are distressed and depressed, and Psalm 69 is a frank and powerful example of a personal lament As we will see, David's lament arises because he is suffering undeservedly for his obedience to God. As we study this psalm, ask yourself if you can identify with the psalmist Most of us can easily see ourselves in the description which the psalmist draws of his trouble. Much of Psalm 69 will sound familiar to you from the New Testament This psalm is the second most quoted psalm in the New Testament It is second only to Psalm 22, another individual lament The psalm is a long one, too long to quote here in full. So it's a good idea to open a Bible and read the psalm before going on. There is no doubt that Psalm 69 is a Lament The mood is one

11 Psalm 30: Thank You, Lord, for Healing Me !

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