A Primer on Reading the Psalms

Title page of the irst edition of the Bay Psal...
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Beyond the posts is a comprehension that there is an order and discipline that embraced if we only grant an understanding of essential basics.  We can go ahead, and evaluate the Psalms.  But much is somewhat complex, and our brains will only handle so much.

But they do divide easily into the following topics:

    • Lyric psalms
    • Lament psalms (sadness)
    • Praise psalms
    • Worship psalms
    • Nature psalms
    • Royal psalms
    • Messianic psalms (hope)
    • Penitential psalms (forgiveness)
    • Imprecatory psalms (judgement)
    • Pilgrim psalms (journey)

As you can see, there are observations that are being made on each Psalm and we do get to determine how it fits in, and why.  Personally, for myself, sometimes I see each Psalm seeking its niche and place, but none make a perfect click.  But ultimately, all find their place.

The Psalms are written by many different authors, and yet maintain a definite and certain continuity of thought.  They certainly don’t contradict each other. But certainly they seem to support and augment the other writers. My understanding is that the Holy Spirit is working as an orchestrater in their midst.

Poetry, as a source for writing, must be accepted.  Certainly, we must always convert these Psalms into songs.  We mustn’t forget that their roots are musical.  We are listening far more than we are reading.  These are songs more than they are theology.  We will quickly short-circuit it all, if we refuse to recognize this. So sing, baby sing!

We must admit, there are many authors.  And each is presenting their song.  But interestingly enough, they sing their unique song without nullifying anyone else.  As we observe, we must also learn. The Father will teach us how to do so.

As we look really close at these Psalms, we must gather up the literal art of figurative language.  To do so will involve the art of interpretation.  The Psalmists score quite high in hyperbole and parallelism. Both are skills to be grasped, and then assimilated.

But finally, you better understand that there is a “holy magic” in all that you read and press into your thinking.  What I mean is this, what you are reading (and just maybe singing). Has a touch of the spiritual, and maybe the intangible, not really ever grasped.  But we completely know inside, that it is rich, and good, and kind.

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