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Old Testament Survey

Psalms




Key Verses

1:1-3
19:8-11
19:14
119:9-11
145:21


Key Chapters

Psalm 1
Psalm 22-24
Psalm 37
Psalm 78
Psalm 100
Psalm 119
Psalm 121


Key Concepts

Worship, Praise
Bless, Blessing


Thoughts for Reading

Where should we seek our comfort?


Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The Greek, psalmos, transliterated as “psalm,” means “plucking,” then “playing” (a stringed instrument). 3.

The Hebrew title means “praise songs.”

Psalms is the book about the human heart. It is the longest book of Scripture, and is, perhaps, the most widely used. This is because of the broad reach of its teachings and the many area of human life which are covered in these 150 songs.

The Book of Psalms is subdivided into five smaller books:

Each book concludes with a doxology, except the last where Psalm 150 serves as the doxology.

There are a variety of ways of looking at the purpose behind the divisions and breakdown of the Psalms. For example, they can be viewed as dealing with the history of the nation in light of the Davidic covenant. In this case the breakdown might look like:

Another view sees the Psalms corresponding to the Pentateuch. This view sees

There are other breakdowns which include dividing the songs into those of worship, petition, and praise. The Psalms are all about God and man, and man’s relationship with God – or lack thereof.

Theology is the study of God.

This really sets forth the purpose of the Psalms. The Psalms are the theological treatise of the Old Testament. Here man works out his views of Who God is and how man should relate to God’s rules. The Old Testament believer failed to understand the concept of an eternal judgment. Theology was, thus, formed in concepts of earthly events. Since the wicked appear to prosper on earth, these issues became difficult to resolve (Ps 73). The Psalms stress the need of the “wise” person to be upright in his standing before God and to wait on God’s blessings (Ps 1).

The Psalms, then, may be viewed as to their type or category.

Hallelujah — praise ye Jehovah, frequently rendered “Praise ye the LORD,” stands at the beginning of ten of the psalms (106, 111–113, 135, 146–150), hence called “hallelujah psalms.” From its frequent occurrence it grew into a formula of praise. The Greek form of the word (alleluia) is found in Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6. 4.

Many are about other themes, such as creation (Ps 8, 19), memory devices (Ps 111, 112), and the Exodus (Ps 78).

Part of the vogue of modern criticism is to attack the ascriptions of the Psalms. It is unclear if these were part of the original writings or added by later Jewish teachers. However, the general concepts of the ascriptions is well attested in Scripture.

The Psalms set forth the message of hope and comfort as the common theme of worship and praise. God is in control and will cause all things to become good, in accordance with His will and plan, in His time. This, as we have seen and will see in more detail, is the great prophecy of the prophetic books. The Psalms reflect this same philosophy. The Psalms, then, reveal the character of God through the praise, complaint and exhortation. It is through these common experiences that man may encourage each other.

Paul writes a commentary on the Psalms when he says:

2 Cor. 1:3-4
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Jesus in Psalms

There is another category of classification for the Psalms. This is to determine which Psalms are Messianic in nature, speaking to the Person and Work of Christ.

Along with the direct reference of Psalm 110 by both Jesus and the Apostles as being written about the Messiah, there are other specific prophecies fulfilled in Christ:

Prophecies of Messiah in the Psalms
Event Psalm NT Ref.
Birth of Christ 104:4 Heb 1:7
Christ’s humiliation 8:4 Heb 2:6
Christ’s Deity 45:6 Heb 1:8
Christ’s ministry 69:9 John 2:17
Christ’s rejection 118:22 Matt 21:42
Christ’s betrayal 41:9 John 13:18
Crucifixion 22 Matt 27:39, 43, 46; Luke 23:35
Resurrection 2, 16 Acts 2:27
Ascension 68:18 Eph 4:8
Christ’s Reign 102:26 Heb 1:11

Psalm 119 is the longest book of the Bible. It, together with Psalm 19, celebrates the place of God’s Law in our lives. Ten different words are used in this Psalm to represent God’s law. All but four of its 176 verses contain one of these ten words. The Psalm is written in what is called acrostic, alphabetical order. The Psalm is divided into 22 sections of eight verses each. There is one section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each line within a section begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Psalm 117 is the shortest book of the Bible, having only two verses!

Psalms 2, 8, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 31, 35, 40, 41, 45, 50, 55, 61, 68, 69, 72, 89, 96, 97, 98, 99, 102, 109, 110, 118, and 132 are all considered Messianic in, at least, one verse. Psalm 110 is the most quoted of these in the New Testament, being used 10 times.

The Psalms and the Christian

One might well ask the place of these Old Testament words in the heart and life of a New Testament Christian. These are the Words of God as they relate to His treasury of spiritual help. These Words speak to our hearts and souls in times of trouble and despair. Whatever our mood, whatever our needs, whatever our conditions and circumstances, God has preserved these ancient poems and songs to help us endure the everyday experiences of life. Use these passages to allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life and draw you closer to God.

When was the last time you reflected and meditated on one of the Psalms?

Footnotes:
3. Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1985.
4. Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996.

 

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December 14, 2019

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