The Book of Psalms is the largest collection of poems in the Bible, and it can feel a bit overwhelming to leaf through its many pages and chapters.
What do we need to know about the Book of Psalms that will help us read and understand the poetry it contains?
Watch Episode 11 by clicking HERE. Come back after the video to continue reading.
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There are a couple of interesting points to reflect on in this video. First, the People of God wrote lots of psalms. Some of these were designed for corporate worship and others for personal devotion, reflection, and teaching. Some were written for times of rejoicing and others for times of sorrow.
The Book of Psalms contains a variety of these different types and it’s helpful to be aware of which type of psalm we’re reading as we seek to understand its meaning.
Second, the Book of Psalms is a collection of psalms but doesn’t contain all of them. For instance, David is thought to have written hundreds of psalms but only a portion of these are included in this book.
This suggests that the compilation of the Book of Psalms was done intentionally and therefore its contents and structure are meaningful to how we read and understand Psalms. The five-part structure identified in the video is useful in this and I would encourage you to review it.
Third, the Book of Psalms was compiled for a people in exile. The Israelites in exile could read the psalms and find in them the capacity to draw near to God while living in a foreign land without the temple.
The parallel for us as a people who belong to the Kingdom yet remain foreigners in the world is compelling. This suggests that the Psalms are also beneficial to us. Just as Israel was waiting for the Messiah and the restoration of Jerusalem, we are also waiting for the Messiah to return and to usher in the New Jerusalem.
Finally, the Book of Psalms is meant to be meditated upon. When you read the poetry contained within, take your time. Many people find it beneficial to pray their way through a psalm. To do this, read through a psalm slowly, line by line, and invite the Holy Spirit to guide your meditation as you allow the words of the psalmist to form the outline of your prayer.
I think the lesson here is that the Psalms aren’t just for the people of Israel, they’re for the people of God. This means they’re also for you and for me.