Friday, February 08, 2013

Psalms - Songs from a Shepherd's Harp

If the Bible was like a big house, the Psalms would be the music room!
At Northside Bible Chapel in Barrie this month we are spending some time in the Psalms. Winter is a good time to spend some time in the Psalms because it is a season in which we can often get down and the prayers of the Psalms often can echo or reflect many of the human emotions we feel as we seek God.

We are going to post the series outlines along with a few jottings, with the prayer that they may be an encouragement to you:

The Psalms we will be looking at are

Psalm 1 - Happiness is...
Psalm 2 - Crown Him with Many Crowns
Psalm 23 - Three Secrets
Psalm 42&43 - The Soul's Depression

The Book of Psalms has been called The Prayer and Praise Book of Israel. It remains the devotional guide, payer book and hymnal of believers of all ages. Every Human emotion and every spiritual ambition finds expression in the Psalms. As J. Flanigan says, we find
Praise and Prophecy
Duty and Devotion
Grief and Gladness
Joy and Sorrow
Tragedy and Triumph
Tears and Laughter
Trials and Trust


A. The Hebrew is "Praises" or "Songs of Praise" (Heb. Tehillim, cf. Psalm 145).

B. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, or the LXX) the title is psalmos which means "twagings" or "to pluck." This Greek term is used of the Psalms in Luke 20:42; 24:44 and Acts 1:20. A Psalm then, is a poem to be accompanied by music. See the superscription to Psalm 6 for example.

The Lord Jesus referred to the "Psalms" in Luke 24, along with the other two main sections of the Hebrew Old Testament, "Moses" and "the Prophets". This gives us a key to the Psalms and the most profitable study of this beautiful book. That is, to see Christ in the Psalms. The Messianic Psalms give us a glimpse into the heart and feelings of the Saviour as he went to Calvary and as he died for our sins. If the Gospels give us the facts of the Crucifixion, the Psalms give us the feelings.


Hebrew Poetry is different than English
But first ask yourself, Why poetry? (poetry versus pros)

Poetry can penetrate parts of the personality that pros would never touch.

Poetry penetrates the mind – more easily remembered, touches the artistic, intuitive part of the brain

Poetry touches the heart – poetry moves the heart (think greeting cards!), touches the emotional part

Read the following poem and think about how it evokes 'feeling':

They walked down the lane together,
The sky was full of stars.
Together they reached the farm yard gate,
He lifted for her the bars.
She neither smiled nor thanked him,
Indeed, she knew not how,
For he was just a farmer’s boy,
And she was a Jersey cow.

Peotry – three features: rhyme, rhythm, repetition
Remember this one?

Jack and Jill went up the hill…

Probably almost all of us could recite the whole thing because of the way poetry lodges itself into our mind and heart.

Hebrew poetry is unique

Rhyme – English poetry rhymes words, whereas Hebrew poetry rhymes ideas
Using parallelism (synonymous, antithetic, synthetic, etc.)

Rhythm – or metre, the beat placed on syllables.
“The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want…” 4/3 metre


David wrote about 73 of the psalms along with Moses, Asaph, Korah, Solomon, Heman and others. They were collected and compiled, some think by Ezra or Asaph or someone closely connected with temple worship.

There are actually five books of Psalms, that correspond with the five books of Moses or like a Poetic Pentateuch. Each book is followed by a doxology or a little 'praise the Lord'. The last Psalm (150) is the doxology to the whole book. Check it and see!

Five books
Book I – Genesis book 1-41; man, creation
Book II – Exodus book 42-72; redemption
Book III – Leviticus book 73-89; sanctuary, worship
Book IV – Numbers book 90-106; wilderness section (Moses 90)
Book V – Deuteronomy book 107-150; Word of God (Ps. 119)

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