Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Psalms: an introduction

The book of Psalms has provided some of the most beloved words in all of Scripture. Most everyone is familiar with Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want... The Psalms are so beloved; because they cover the whole spectrum of human emotions. We can relate to them because they speak to the situations and circumstances we all, as human beings, encounter in our daily lives.

The ESV Study Bible's introduction to the Psalms tells us: The English title psalms comes from the Greek psalmos, which translates Hebrew mizmor "song."  The Hebrew name for the book is Tehillim, "Praises," pointing to the characteristic use of these songs to God in public worship.

The Psalm tells us much about God and much about human beings. As we said there is cry of pain, anguish, dread, hopelessness expressed in the Psalms but there is also the provision of a Holy God. Many of the Psalms were written by David and they have the favor of warfare, as many were plead to God for deliverance from Saul, and from David's own son, Absalom. There are warnings from God, there are blessings and curses from God. There is the confession of sin and repentance from sin, who is not familiar with Psalm 51 David's repentance for his sins concerning Bathsheba and Uriah.

The Psalms as part of the Word of God present the major themes of the rest of Scripture; such as the sovereignty of God, the Covenant of God, God keeps His people, the situation and circumstances of the people of God and those of the ungodly. That's why we see judgment, forgiveness and most of the other themes of Scripture as a whole.

The biggest thing for us to consider as we look at the Psalms is the concept of worship. Many of the Psalms were sung  in worship to God. The true worshippers of God worship Him in Spirit and Truth, and that means in accordance with Word of God.

We see a holy God in the Psalms, a God worthy of our devotion and loyalty. As we read them we will read constant pleas from a holy God to reconcile ourselves to Him, and we (Christians in the time of the whole Word of God, Old and New Testament) know that that means to look to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Psalms express to our hearts a Almighty, Loving, Patience, God, who has provide everything for us.  I will close the introduction to the Psalms with these words of assurance for all those who accept God's provision in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 23:  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Wonderful words to rest on, to stand on, to place our souls on. In Christ.

Next study: Psalms

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