Rightly Dividing - Lesson 5

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Rightly Dividing the Psalms

by Don Treadway, February 2000

INTRODUCTION:

1. The book of Psalms is one of the best-known and least understood books in the Bible. Most do not understand what Psalms are. They are not words from God to man, but are words spoken to God and about God.

2. They are songs and prayers addressed to God. They do not function primarily to teach or correct.

3. They help us express ourselves to God and to consider his ways.

4. We need to understand their nature - including types, as well as their forms and functions.

BODY:

I. THE PSALMS AS POETRY

1. Synonymous parallelism Isaiah 44:22, Psalm 19:1 the second line repeats

2. Antithetical parallelism Hosea 7:14 the second contrasts

3. Synthetic parallelism Obadiah 21 the second line adds to

4. It is addressed to the mind through the heart.

5. They are musical poems and as such they appeal to the emotion to stimulate a response.

6. The vocabulary of poetry is purposefully metaphorical. Psalms 114:4, 59:7

II. THE PSALMS AS LITERATURE

1. There are seven types of Psalms: Laments, Thanksgiving, Praise, Salvation History, Celebration, Wisdom, Trust.

2. Each of the Psalms is characterized by its form.

3. Each of the types has its own function.

4. We must learn to recognize various patterns within the Psalm.

5. Each Psalm must be read as a literary unit.

III. THE TYPES OF PSALMS

1. Laments - there are 60 of laments.
Some are individual (e.g. 3, 22, 31, 39, 42, 57,).
Some are corporate (e.g. 12, 44, 80, 94, 137). 
The laments express with honest fervor the distress that people felt.

2. Thanksgiving Psalms.
There are 10 individual (e.g. 18, 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 92, 116, 118, 138) Psalms. 
There are 6 corporate (e.g. 65, 67, 75, 107, 124, 136) Psalms. 
They were used to express thoughts and feelings of gratefulness.

3. Psalms of praise - center on the praise of God for who He is, and what He does for all mankind. 
Psalms 8, 19, 104, and 148 praise God as creator.
Psalms 66, 100, 111, 114, and 149 praise God as protector of Israel. 
Psalms 33, 103, 113, 117, 145-147 praise God as Lord of history.

4. Salvation history is the subject of five Psalms(78, 105, 106, 135, 136).

5. Psalms of celebration and affirmation - there are several kinds of Psalms in this category:
Covenant renewal (50 and 81); 
Royal Psalms - (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 101, 110, 144);
Enthronement Psalms - (24, 49, 47, 93, 95-99); 
Songs of the city of Jerusalem - (46, 108, 76, 84, 87, 122).

6. There are eight Wisdom Psalms - (36, 37, 49, 73, 112, 127, 128, 133).

7. There are 10 Psalms of trust - (11, 16, 23, 27, 62, 63, 91, 121, 125, 131). 
These Psalms help us to express our trust in God, whether we are doing well or not.

IV. TWO EXAMPLES

Psalms 3: a personal lament

1. Address
2. Complaint
3. Trust
4. Deliverance
5. Assurance
6. Praise

This psalm was not designed to instruct but to act as a guide. When we are feeling defeated, or discouraged it helps us to express our thoughts and feelings and to rely on God's faithfulness. It also helps us to see the importance of balance and honesty in our prayers.

Psalm 138: a Thanksgiving Psalm

1. Introduction
2. Distress
3. Appeal
4. Deliverance
5. Testimony

This Psalm is useful in gathering our own thoughts and feelings when we are reflecting on the faithfulness God is shown us over the years.

CONCLUSION:

There are three basic benefits of the Psalms.

1. The Psalms are a guide as to how to express all our praise, appeals, and gratitude to God.

2. The Psalms, by example show us how to relate honestly to God.

3. The Psalms demonstrate the importance of reflection and meditation upon what God has done for us.

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10/05/2012