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An introduction to the Psalms



A few thoughts on the Psalms...

1. Psalms are for singing. Today some churches only sing Psalms. Certainly they were part of the songbook of the early church who were told to sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It's objected that if you sing the Psalms only you wouldn't sing the name "Jesus" though you'd sing lots of his titles and in my view develop a deeply Trinitarian worship life that is theologically and emotionally rich.

 2. Psalms are poetry. Look for lines that repeat ideas or themes. Subtle changes add nuance and weight to the lyrics. Psalms also use images and illustrations to help us not just think but see, not just reason but imagine.

 3. Psalms is a structured book. A song book can be arranged by author, title, theme etc. The Psalms are arranged theologically. In an age when we barely see a whole verse projected on screen we need to learn that songs have context – in other Bible books and within the book of Psalms itself. 
 "Moses gave to the Israelites the five books of the Law… David gave them the five books of the Psalms." Midrash commentary, Psalm 1:1
Book 1 Psalms 1-41 Genesis Humanity and The Man (Christ/Adam)  
Book 2 Psalms 42-74 Exodus Israel as a nation  
Book 3 Psalms 73-89 Leviticus The Sanctuary  
Book 4 Psalms 90-106 Numbers Israel and the nations  
Book 5 Psalms 107-150 Deuteronomy God and his word 
4. Psalms are sung by the Christ (e.g. 22,23) or about the Christ (e.g. 34,45).
Written in Hebrew, translated to Greek, and English. Messiah (Hebrew) = Christ (Greek) = Anointed (English). Jesus is the Son anointed by his Father with the Holy Spirit. In Psalms he is also called The Angel of the LORD, The King, The Man. In Psalm 45 we hear the Father singing about his Son (and those adopted in the Son).

5. Psalms are quoted in the New Testament to tell the gospel story.
 Hebrews 1:8 ‘Of the Son he says…’ (45).

 6. Psalms are deeply emotional. Laments, complaints and celebrations. Songs for all seasons of life.

 7. Psalms titles are Scripture too. e.g. 45
 ► According to Lilies; (a song for the season of Passover, when the lilies flowered in Israel)
 ► A Maskil (a teaching song)
 ► of the Sons of Korah; (sets the song against the backdrop of the story of Korah and his sons in the book of Numbers. Rebels who were sentenced to death and were raised to life.)
 ► A love song. (the subject - a wedding song for the Christ)

Image Creative Commons Daniel Go.

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