Monday, April 14, 2008

Introduction to the Psalms

Reading about the life of David is a good occasion to introduce the Psalms, for David is the most prolific and famous Psalmist. The Psalms are the national hymnbook for Israel, containing poetry to be sung to God in worship. We see God extolled for who he is, and we see the believer in this world expressing the vast panaorama of experiences we go through in this life: joy, sorrow, victory, failure, despair, hope, anger, peace, and every other shade of emotion. For literally thousands of years believers and unbelievers have seen their own state reflected in these ancient Hebrew poems and received comfort, strength, wisdom, and direction. They are a treasure to every believer.
The Psalms prefigure Christ in many ways: his prophetic office in Psalm 22:22; his priestly office in Psalms 40:6, 8; 22; 49; 110. His kingly office in Psalms 2; 21;45, 72. His sufferings in Psalm 22. His resurrection in Psalm 16.
More Psalms are assigned to David (73) than anyone else, but other authors are represented as well. 50 are anonymous, one is written by Moses, 2 by Solomon. Some of David's worship leaders, Ethan, Heman, and Asaph, wrote Psalms as well. Psalms continued to be written during the time of Ezra, meaning that the book of Psalms represents centuries of composition, yet a consistent picture of a God who is awesome in His holiness, power, and wisdom, yet merciful and ready to forgive those who humble themselves before Him. Discerning when possible the time and circumstances of their writing will help give greater meaning to them.
As you read the Psalms, remember that they are prayers and praises to God, and let them instruct and inspire your own response to the same Living God they addressed hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Let them lift your soul to God!

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