Rightly Dividing the Psalms
by Don Treadway, February 2000
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.
I. THE PSALMS AS POETRY
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.
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.
2. Thanksgiving Psalms.
3. Psalms of praise - center on the praise of God for who He is, and what He
does for all mankind.
5. Psalms of celebration and affirmation - there are several kinds of Psalms
in this category:
IV. TWO EXAMPLES
Psalms 3: a personal lament
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.
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.