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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 read-
ing 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
7
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 par-
allelism. 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, frustra-
tion, fear and danger.
The laments speak to us when we are distressed and de-
pressed, 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 descrip-
tion 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 individ-
ual 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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