Good morning friends! Today is a special day as we take a momentary 'break' on our journey to not finish the book series, but rather appreciate the subtle journey it's taken with this so far. What do I mean? Well, the next wisdom literature in the Bible is the psalms and we've already been traveling with them for 151 days! So, today's reading is just re-reading the first two as a nod of appreciation for all the wisdom they've taught us in addition to reading psalm 147 as well to continue the journey. With there only being 150 psalms that means we are nearly done with them. Have you noticed any certain themes or could you follow the different styles of psalms? I'll share more on that below though. Let's read together!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What do the psalms teach me about God?
What do the psalms teach me about humanity?
What "musical styles" can I identify in the psalms?
- My Thoughts -
The Psalms are pretty great as they give us an early glimpse of music and it's role in the worship of God and what early prayer life was like. Much like today we have different genres of music there are also genres of psalms, so to speak. The psalms are composed of historical-narrative, lament, praise, judgement (asking for God's wrath on enemies), prophetic, wisdom, royal, and confidence. Some of these are self explanatory but I'll go through each briefly.
- Historical-narrative are those that are witnesses to what God has done already as a message of hope for what God will do. Psalm 136 is a good example of this.
- Lament psalms are those that express emotional or spiritual suffering and ask God to help. Psalm 51 or Psalm 88 come to mind.
- Praise psalms are those that give praise to what God has done or what God will do in the future. These seperate from historical-narrative because they often feature "joyful" terminology or call and response style repeats. In other words, they have noticeable "energy" about them.
- Judgement psalms are difficult to read but also express the full gambit of human emotion as they call for God to destroy their enemies. Psalm 130 is a infamous example of this with the "crush the babies" ending.
- Prophetic psalms are those that call to a future day of liberation. Psalm 50 is a go to example for this.
- Wisdom psalms share traits with wisdom literature such as proverbs which offers practical guidance and advice.
- Royal psalms are any of those that use royal languge in a positive manner such as "God bless our King who is wise and good!" whereas psalm 2 talks about how stupid kings are. You can tell in these cases these psalms were written for the king by a squire rather than for God.
- Confidence psalms are those that recognize opposition is on the way and swear to trust in God to deliver them through it.
As we've done this journey with the psalms for nearly 6 months now I imagine some of them have stuck out to you and others have upset you while many went in one ear and out the other. Perhaps it stuck out to you because you were feeling sad that day, or angry, or happy and a certain genre spoke to you on just the right day while others didn't connect for the opposite reason. Without being too long winded to get even myself confused, I hope that next time you're in an emotional state and you need somewhere to go to be in solidarity with others that have prayed all types of prayers to God that you can find hope in the darkness in the wisdom, tears, and anger of the psalms.
I don't think there is going to be a more fitting day to pray through music than our day of studying the psalms. Our prayer today is inspired by hymn 152 in our United Methodist Hymnal - I Sing the Almighty Power of God. I invite you hum, sing, or pray the words of the psalm with me. :)
1. I sing the almighty power of God, that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies. I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; the moon shines full at God's command, and all the stars obey.
2. I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food, who formed the creatures thru the Word, and then pronounced them good. Lord, how thy wonders are displayed, where'er I turn my eye, if I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
3. There's not a plant or flower below, but makes thy glories known, and clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from thy throne; while all that borrows life from thee is ever in thy care; and everywhere that we can be, thou, God, art present there.