The Psalms Lesson #1 September 3, 2017
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Question # 1: “Write down one psalm that has been meaningful to you. Tell us in one sentence why it has been meaningful to you”
Question # 2: “In one sentence, why do you turn to the psalms? What do you hope to get from the psalms?”
Question # 3: “What keeps you from knowing the psalms better? Any hurdles you face?”
I. The goals of this course on the Psalms:
A. To understand the big picture and the theology of the Psalms, in order to make the Psalms more helpful, more useable to us. To better know how individual psalms fit in. To see the Psalms in light of the rest of Scripture and Biblical Theology.
Illustration: The book of psalms is like a 150 piece puzzle, but each puzzle piece has a picture that is meaningful in itself. Yet you want to put all 150 pieces together in a way that will give you the big picture of the whole thing. We could also say the same about how the one piece of the book of psalms (one piece of 66 pieces/ books) fits into the overall picture of the whole Bible.
B. To see Christ at the center of the psalms, so that we better know, love, and trust Him. To mature in our walk with Jesus Christ, the Lord and the Singer of the Psalms. This is what Jesus showed us in Luke 24:27 and 44-47. “He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Christ is the one the cover of the puzzle box with all the puzzle pieces of the Psalms and all the books of the Bible inside.
C. To grow in our ability to study and learn from the Psalms. To develop a better facility with the psalms for worship, counsel, encouragement, etc. Think of knowing what tools you have – in the kitchen, in the workshop, or on your computer – so that you know which tool to use for which job. (One later exercise might be for someone to raise a counseling problem or a personal struggle, and then see how certain psalms might provide answers and hope.)
II. Why have the Psalms held a special place for God’s people for 3,000 years?
Why do you think that is the case?
A. The psalms speak to us – in every situation we are in. The Lord made David and others go through some very hard times, as well as joyful ones, so that they would be prepared to be His mouthpiece for all the emotional ups and downs of our life. We can also say that Christ went through those experiences as a man, so that He could be our sympathetic High Priest, the One who prayed the psalms, so that we might follow Him. The psalms speak the universal language of the human soul, reflecting all of our emotions. John Calvin vividly described the Psalms as “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” Or as Sinclair Ferguson puts it, “Every experience, every emotion, all the heights and depths, all the joys and sorrows, all the mysteries of life, are here.”
B. The psalms speak for us – as we pray and try to respond to God in our situations.
While the prophetic books are God speaking to man, with the prophet as God’s “mouthpiece”, the poetical books such as Psalms are the God-inspired words of man to God. (Such literature in the Bible shows us that the “dictation” view of inspiration is wrong.) The Psalms are the inspired, authoritative response of God’s people to His initiative, His work, and His grace among them. The Psalms are part of God’s normative response of the redeemed to the Lord, and they point to Christ Himself (Luke 24:44-45)
Perhaps this is one way how the Holy Spirit helps us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27) in our weakness when we don’t know how to pray – by bringing us to the inspired prayers of the Psalms.
Many Christians have voiced their prayers in hours of extreme anguish by repeating familiar passages from the Psalms. The psalms are the prayer book – and the songbook – of the people of God.
C. The psalms help us to worship the Lord – in private and in public. Luther called the psalms a school of prayer: “The Christian can learn to pray in the psalter, for here he can listen to how the saints talk with God. The number of moods which are expressed here, joy and suffering, hope and care, make it possible for every Christian to find himself in it, and to pray with the psalms.” The Psalms will make us better prayers, better singers, and better worshipers! If that is true individually, how much more so when we come together:
Ps. 47:7 “For God is the king of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise.”
Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16 “As you sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
I think we would all testify that the psalms lift our hearts – and voices – to praise the Lord, even when we may feel down or empty.
D. The psalms were written in a time very much like ours today. Bernhard Anderson suggests that the Psalms were written at a point when Israel was between the initiation of God’s Kingdom (through David and Solomon) and its culmination (in Christ’s first coming). We live under similar circumstances today, living between the initiation of Christ’s kingdom and its culmination when He returns to earth. It is this anticipation and at the same time a sense of God’s absence (waiting for Him) which enables the saints of today to identify with the struggles of the saints of old, and to find in the psalms a familiar song with our own hearts and lives. Example: Ps. 13 “How long, O Lord?” It may be that when we are suffering and struggling, and God seems distant, that we turn our attention to the Psalms.
E. The book of psalms is the most quoted and alluded OT book in the NT. It is interwoven with the gospels, the epistles, especially in Hebrews, and even in Revelation.
Luke has the Apostles quoting the psalms 6X in Acts 1-4.
Paul quotes the psalms 5X in Romans 3:1-16 in teaching about depravity.
The author of Hebrews quotes the Psalms 13X in Heb. 1-5, often proving Christ’s deity.
(See Chart of “Where the Psalms appear in the NT”) Luther said that “The Psalter is the favorite books of the saints… each person, whatever his circumstances may be, finds in [the book] psalms and words which are appropriate to the circumstances he finds himself and meets his needs as adequately as if they were composed exclusively for his sake…”
To be continued next week