The psalms
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The Psalms. The Psalms as Literature and Theology. The Psalms of Praise. “Praise the Lord, O My Soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (Ps. 103.1). The Anatomy of Praise. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10.31).

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The Psalms

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The psalms

The Psalms

The Psalms as Literature

and

Theology


The psalms of praise

The Psalms of Praise

“Praise the Lord,

O My Soul; all my inmost being, praise

his holy name” (Ps. 103.1)


The anatomy of praise

The Anatomy of Praise

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Cor. 10.31)

Praise of Yahweh is a response to the grace of Yahweh for his people


The anatomy of praise continued

The Anatomy of Praise continued

  • “For you are holy, inhabiting the praise of Israel” (Ps. 22.3)

  • Praise of Yahweh’s people encourages the weak (Ps. 149.6-9) and summons the individual (Ps. 103.1-2), Yahweh’s people (Ps. 106.1), and everything (Ps. 150.6) to praise Yahweh


Form of psalms of praise

Form of Psalms of Praise

  • The Hebrew title of the book of psalms is tehillim, praises; tehillah, praise.

  • A helpful distinction in the psalms of praise is between declarative praise and descriptive praise

    • Declarative praise refers to generic language of praise, such as ‘Praise the Lord’ (hallelu+yah)

    • Descriptive praise refers to the details of a psalm (Ps. 113.5)


Description of psalms of praise

Description of Psalms of Praise


The psalms

  • Form: Imperative psalms (Ex. 15.21; 98, 100, 136), participle psalms (cf. Is. 40-55), psalms of individual (8, 104)

  • Theme: praise of creation (8, 19a, 33, 104, 136); Yahweh as king (47, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99); harvest (65, 145); historical (105, 106, 114, 135, 136); entrance (24, 94, 100)

  • Frequently the life situation of the psalms is difficult to identify


Major themes

Major Themes

Two major themes are central to the

psalms of praise:

creation

the history of Israel


Creation

Creation

  • Creation is an important subject of the psalms, for it demonstrates Yahweh is in charge

  • Creation by the word (Ps. 148, 33)

  • Creation by action (Ps. 147; Gen. 2.19-20)


Creation continued

Creationcontinued

  • Creation by wisdom (Prov. 8.30, 3.19; Jer. 51.15; Pss. 136, 104)

  • Creation by power (Pss. 65; 134)

  • Beauty of creation (Ps. 8)

  • Universality of Yahweh’s presence (Pss. 19, 113, 117, 33, 65, 66; 47)


Israel s history

Israel’s History

  • The story of Joseph (Ps. 105.16-22)

  • Egyptian sojourn (vs. 23-27)

  • The plagues (vs. 28-36)

  • The exodus (vs. 37-38, 43)

  • The wilderness (vs. 49-42)

  • The conquest (v. 44)

  • Others history psalms (Pss. 106, 114, 136

  • Psalmists sometimes use generic terms (Pss. 65.5, 66.5, 105.1-2, 5; 106.2, 136.4, 145.4, 12)


Summary

Summary

  • The psalms of praise dominate books 4 and 5 of the psalter (90-106, 107-150)

  • The psalms of praise extol the Lord for his great deeds in creation and in the history of his people

  • The psalms in this category praise the Lord and give reasons for it


Summary continued

Summary continued

“God the creator and his creation, the universality of God’s presence and reign, God’s awesome deeds in history, and the historical events in which God has shown himself to be faithful and powerful” (Bullock, Encountering, p. 133)


Psalms of lament

Psalms of Lament

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?


Definition

Definition

  • Joy and sorrow, hope and despair are the emotions that represent the two extremes of life

  • The psalms of lament include the fact and the reasons

  • Laments can be divided into laments of the people and laments of the individual

  • In some of these psalms there is a strong trust component (Pss. 46, 123, 126)

  • The vow to praise rarely appears in the lament of the people, since individuals make vows


Laments of people

Laments of People

  • The laments of people have five components:

    • Address and petition

    • Lament

    • Confession of trust

    • Petition

    • Vow of praise (rarely)

  • Not all laments include all the parts nor do they always follow the same order

  • Psalms of lament deal with three dimension

    • Complaint against God

    • Against the enemy

    • Against themselves/himself (see Ps. 22)


Laments of individuals

Laments of Individuals

  • Laments of individuals have these components:

    • Address with introductory cry for help and/or turning to God

    • Lament

    • Confession of trust

    • Petition

    • Assurance of being heard

    • Wish or petition for God’s intervention

    • Vow of praise

    • Praise of God when petition has been heard

  • The psalmists are completely honest with the Lord about their feelings toward him, toward their enemies, and about themselves.

  • They encourage us to be fully honest with the Lord about our situations without defiance to God and hatred for our fellows


Subcategories

Subcategories

Psalms of Lament


Prayers of individuals

Prayers of Individuals

  • Prayer of the sick (Pss. 38, 41, 88)

  • Prayer of the sick with modifications (Pss. 6, 13, 22, 30, 31, 32, 35, 39, 51 i69, 71, 91, 102, 103)

  • Prayer of the persecuted and accused (3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 17, 23, 26, 27, 57, 63)

  • Prayer of a sinner (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143; these psalms are also known as penitential psalms)

  • The thanksgiving prayer of the individual (18, 31, 32, 32, 66B, 92, 116, 118, 120)


Community prayers

Community Prayers

  • These are the prayers of the people (Pss. 44, 60, 74, 77, 79, 80, 83, 85, 90, 94, 123, 126, 137)

  • The individual psalms of lament are concentrated in book 1, psalms 1-41, the core collection of the Davidic psalms

  • The community laments occur in books 2-5 (Psalms 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150)


Analysis of lament psalms

Analysis of Lament Psalms

Individual lament of the sick:

  • Problem (38.7, 11, 17-18; 41.3-5; 88.3-5)

  • Complaint against God (38.2-3; 88.6-9, 14-18)

  • Complaint against self (38.4-5; 41.4)

  • Complaint against enemies (38.11-12, 19-20; 41.5-9)

  • Petition (38.1, 16, 21-22; 41. 4, 10; 88.1-2, 9b, 13-14)

  • Solution (38.18; 41.4, 10-12)

  • In these psalms physical illness, spiritual anguish, and sin cannot be separated


  • Notes on lament psalms

    Notes on Lament Psalms

    • In ten out of the fifteen psalms the psalmist considers God as the cause of his suffering

    • In as many times he blames his enemies as causing the problems

    • In the midst of their troubles the psalmists point out that trust in Yahweh’s unfailing character was the solution to their problems


    Notes on lament psalms cont

    Notes on Lament Psalms cont.

    • We must note the importance of confession, but especially that of forgiveness

    • A vow to praise Yahweh occurs in ten out of the fifteen psalms.

    • In three of the psalms there is an answer from Yahweh

    • Thirteen of these psalms are psalms of David


    Community psalms

    Community Psalms

    In thirteen psalms the focus is on some national crisis

    Community psalms present the laments of the people

    The community appeals to the Yahweh’s work in history


    Community psalms continued

    Community Psalmscontinued

    • The solution to their problem is divine intervention

      • His intervention is an expression of his character; he is a God of mercy and grace

    • In three cases the community vows to praise Yahweh for his aid to his people


    Identity of enemies

    Identity of Enemies

    The following are suggestions:

    • Friends who insisted that the person was punished because of his grievous sins (Pss. 32.5-6 38.18, 51; but 7.3-5, 17.4-5)

    • The viewers of the psalmist’s suffering accuse him of sin (Ps. 41.5-6, 8)


    Identity of enemies continued

    Identity of Enemiescontinued

    • Foreign powers who threaten Israel (more true of the community rather than individuals: Ps. 83.4-12)

    • The language is metaphorical, inviting readers to identify with the psalmist (the enemies are an open category, which readers can fill with their own enemies)


    Summary1

    Summary

    • The psalms of lament as the largest category in the book of psalms express the extremes of the human situation

    • At the same time there is also praise in these psalms at the point of help

    • While sickness is sometimes the crisis, spiritual and psychological anguish are usually present caused by personal failures and enemies

    • The faith of the OT believers encompassed also personal and communal complaint

    • Lament in not separated from praise; they are the two ends of the relationship with Yahweh


    The psalms of thanksgiving

    The Psalms of Thanksgiving

    “I love the Lord,

    for He has heard my voice’

    He heard my cry for mercy” (Ps. 116.11)


    Relation to lament

    Relation to Lament

    • Psalms of lament and thanksgiving seem to be on opposite ends

      • The distance can be traversed quickly; when the psalmist experiences a response to his lament, he breaks out in praise

    • Praise grows out of Yahweh’s response to the needs of the psalmist


    Relation to lament cont

    Relation to Lament cont.

    • Our experiences as human beings range between these two poles

    • In psalms of lament, the crisis is ongoing; in psalms of thanksgiving, the crisis is past (Pss. 31.9-13; 40.2)


    Form and content

    Form and Content

    • Though ambiguity exists, some essentials mark this category:

      • The psalmist reports about his crisis that cause his difficulty

      • He states that the crisis has passed and he experienced Yahweh’s deliverance

      • The experience of deliverance differentiates these psalms from others


    Elements

    Elements

    • Introduction: gives the intention to worship and the reason, fluid (Ps. 92.1-4)

    • Report of a crisis: one of the essential elements (Pss. 52.1-7; short: 32.3-4, 40.2, 92.10-11, 120.1, 6; extended: 18.4-5, 7-19; 30.2-3, 6-9, 11-12a; 31.9-13, 21-22; 66.5-12)

    • Deliverance as fact: Yahweh’s deliverance issues in praise (Ps. 52.8-9, 32.5-9)

    • Conclusion: fluid as introduction, vow or promise of sacrifice (Ps. 116.17-19, 118.28-29; 30.11-12, 32.8-10

    • List of psalms of praise: 18, 30, 31, 32, 40, 66, 92, 116, 118, 120; Isaiah 38.1-12, Jonah 2.3-9


    Life situation

    Life Situation

    • The ritual accompanying the psalms of thanksgiving are somewhat unclear

    • What is clear, a personal or national crisis initiated the psalm

    • Worshippers performed some kind of ritual in the temple before the congregation (Pss. 63.13, 116.19)

    • Origin of psalms of thanksgiving (Ps. 107.4-9)


    Life situation cont

    Life Situation cont.

    • Psalms of thanksgiving may have been recited in connection with the sacrifice (Pss. 66.13-15, 40.5-8) in the presence of worshipers (Pss. 30.4, 31.23, 32.11)

    • Psalms are samples of accomplished composers: David (18, 21, 30, 32, 40); anonymous (66, 92, 116, 118, 120)


    Community psalms1

    Community Psalms

    • Same two criteria: crisis and crisis passed with community emphasis (Pss. 65.3, 124.1, 129.1)

      • Individuals at times drew strength from Yahweh’s deliverance of his people (Ps. 66.5-7, 8-12)

      • This deliverance demonstrated Yahweh’s character (Pss. 30.10, 31.19, 32.5, 10; 40.11, 66.20, 92.2, 116.5, 7, 12; 118.1, 29)

    • Community psalms of thanksgiving are: 65, 66, 107, 118, 124, 129


    Theological implications

    Theological Implications

    • Yahweh’s mighty deliverance of his people became the basis for the psalmist’s confidence of Yahweh’s deliverance of him (Ps. 66.5-12, 16)

    • The psalms indicate a double movement, from the community to the individual (Ps. 66.5-16) and from the individual to the community (Pss. 25.22, 51.18-19, 130.7-8)

    • The psalmists stress both the vertical and horizontal dimension of Yahweh’s grace; it radiates down and outward

    • Individual and community are codependent; gratitude frees both, but usually begins with individuals


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