Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Psalms

What do you think of the Psalms?

I know of some people who don't really care for them that much, they prefer Proverbs or Ecclesiastes instead.

What about you?

The Psalms are emotional, intense, creative, expressive, direct, bold, sometimes unnerving and uncomfortable. But they are enduring...some of these Psalms date back to David, King of Israel around 1000BC! That is over 3000 years are reading ancient poetry...don't let that fact slip away too easily. Yes it is Scripture, so it is timeless, but it is also a product of human imagination, devotion, hopes and fears, etc. It is rooted in a culture, a society, a worldview, a set of values, a frame of mind, an attitude that is unique to humanity. The Psalms can be meaningful without knowing the context under which it was written, but they can't really be understood. If you want to match understanding and meaningfulness to your Psalm reading, do some background study on the Psalms.

The Psalms are poetry, they are songs used for worship in the Temple of God. They are not ditties put together based on musical preferences (we prefer music based on music style - country, rock, jazz, etc). For us it doesn't really matter what the words say in a song, as long as they are catchy and true and the melody is palatable. With Hebrew singing the rhythm of the song was not that big of deal, but the ideas expressed in the song meant everything, they were the point of the song/psalm/poem/hymn.

Psalms fall under several different categories: Psalms of Lament (expressing sorrow, grief, etc); Psalms of Praise/Thankfulness (expressing gratitude towards God, exalting His characteristics and actions), Psalms of Wisdom (expressing the right way to live); Psalms of Royalty (expressing God's rule over His people). These are the basic categories, so now when you read a Psalm, try and identify what category it fits in and see if that opens up some more meaning to you...what is the psalmist lamenting? for what is he praising/thanking God? etc.

The Psalms are a legitimate source of theology - they are not just overexaggerations about God and his work. The Prophets and Jesus and Paul all quote the Psalms to make theological points about God and his Work in the world.

What a people sing is what a people value. (It was not uncommon, and even today it is not uncommon for devout orthodox Jews to memorize all 150 psalms. People memorize/remember what they value. (That is why wives always hit their husbands when they can't confidently state a birthday or wedding anniversary date at the spur of the moment).

What do you remember or memorize? Is it worth it? What benefit might come for you to remember or memorize differnent ideas/truths about life/yourself?

Maybe you need to reread Psalm 1 - it is the gateway for understanding the purpose of the Psalms. (Be sure to note the tree metaphor.)

Peace to you...


1 comment:

mum said...

This is really good stuff....I am so glad Tara asked me is I'd read it....I'll be more diligent from now on....thanks for taking the time to share your self...