< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Study of the Psalms Part 2

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Study of the Psalms Part 2

Out of all the books of the Bible, Psalms is one of the most well known. In the book of Psalms you will find poems, songs, lamentations and prayers written by psalmists. King David was one of the main authors (he wrote 73 psalms); but we also find that Asaph wrote 12 psalms, the sons of Korah wrote 9 psalms, Solomon wrote 2 psalms, Heman with the sons of Korah wrote 1 psalm, Ethan wrote 1 psalm, Moses wrote 1 psalm and the remaining 51 were written by anonymous authors.

They were probably written over a period from 200 years before David’s reign to the latter part of the 5th century BC. Many more psalms then the 150 in this book were written. Some are in other books of the Bible, but, these 150 are probably a very good example of all of them.

The Book of Psalms is divided into 5 sections, which, interestingly, are parallel to the divisions of the writings of Moses in the Torah, which has 5 sections or books. The 5 sections in Psalms are labeled as books one through five. In the first book of Psalms we find Psalms 1- 41. These Psalms are mainly written by David. If you compare the theme of theses psalms to the book of Genesis’ theme you will be amazed at the similarities. In the second book we find Psalms 42 – 72. The theme of these psalms can be compared to the book of Exodus. The main authors of Book Two are David and the sons of Korah. In the third book we find Psalms 73 – 89. Asaph and Asaph’s descendants mainly wrote this collection. These psalms are similar to the book of Leviticus and its theme. In the fourth book we find Psalms 90 – 106 which were mainly written by unknown authors and likened to the book of Numbers in its theme. The fifth book is made up of Psalms 107 – 150, which are mainly by David and these psalms are comparable to the book of Deuteronomy.

The central theme of the whole book of Psalms is that the poets believed God to be vitally, even tangibly present in the world and purposefully and lovingly involved in men’s lives. The petitions of the psalms are raised in the certainty that God will hear. There is constant reference in the psalms to the action of God on behalf of His whole people and on behalf of a single individual.

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren wrote, “To instruct us in candid honesty, God gave us the book of Psalms; a worship manual, full of ranting, raving, doubts, fears, resentments and deep passions combined with thanksgiving, praise and statements of faith. Every possible emotion is catalogued in the Psalms. When you read the emotional confessions of David and others, realize this is how God wants you to worship Him, holding back nothing of what you feel. You can pray like David, “I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him my troubles. I am overwhelmed.”

Warren added, “God doesn’t mind us questioning Him and telling Him how we feel. He would much rather have our passion then our religious rituals that we just recite.”

In every experience of our own, no matter how deep the pain or great the frustration or how exhilarating the joy, we can find psalms that echo our innermost thoughts: psalms, that God used to bring comfort or to confirm to us that He understands.

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