How do you know who you are?
For all of us stories, especially family stories, define who we are. While the world tells us we can define ourselves however we want, the truth is we need an overarching story to set the context for our lives. Apart from Christ, we seek to write a story with our lives that satisfies our cravings and bolsters our self-confidence.
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, however, we not only receive the Lord’s righteousness and life, we also receive his name, his family, and his history. Importantly, Jesus’ family history does not begin in a Bethlehem stable, it goes back to Ruth and Boaz—another family in Bethlehem. And in the birth of their great-grandson David, we find the foundational patriarch who defines the royal family of King Jesus and all of human history. In the Psalms David is the central figure. In Book 1 he is the author and centerpiece of (almost) every psalm. And now in Book 2, he continues to have the leading role.
This week, building on the message from last week, we consider how the sons of Korah, Asaph, and Solomon all factor into David’s later life. As I argue in the sermon, Book 2 begins with the highpoint of David’s life in Psalms 45–46; it then plummets into the conflicts that arise following David’s sin with Bathsheba in Psalms 51–71; it concludes with God intervening to save David and establish David’s son Solomon on the throne in Psalm 72. In this story we find the family story of David, of Jesus, and of every child of God who has entered into David’s story by way of trust in David’s Son.
You can listen to the sermon online or read the sermon notes. But perhaps most helpful are two infographics that display the story of Psalms 1–72. Here are the infographics, also in PDF (Book 1 and Book 2). Below are discussion questions and resources for further study.
- What story most defines your life? How does thinking about David’s family tree, and especially the coming of his Son, reframe your approach to the Old Testament? How might seeing the Psalms as your family story impact your life? (See the way Paul applies the Old Testament to the New Testament believer — Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1–11; 2 Timothy 3:14–17).
- Look at the two infographics handed out this week. How do these graphics help put the Psalms together? How might the original audiences have ‘seen’ these groupings? (Hint: the music (tempo, instrumentation, and keys), the language, and repetition of words or ideas may all play a part). How do these formations impact the way we read the Psalms?
- These infographics are interpretive, not inerrant. But how should we use them in our reading of the Psalms? Should they divide us if we see the Psalms differently, or should they facilitate conversation about the Psalms? How do you talk with others about God’s Word?
- In practice, consider a few of the places in Book 2:
- Who are the Sons of Korah? What do their songs say to you about the justice and grace of God?
- Why might we see Psalm 45 as related to the covenant with David? (cf. 2 Samuel 7:1–17)
- Why do Psalms 51–60 have so many references to David’s afflictions? How should we understand the chronology of these psalms, esp. in relationship to Psalm 51?
- Psalm 64:7 is a turning point in Psalms 61–67. How can we tell? Look at the psalms preceding and the psalms following. Note the change in petitions for salvation (Psalms 60–64:6) and the salvation given after (Psalms 64:7–67:7).
- What does it mean that the prayers of David are ended (Psalm 72:20)? Compare this with Psalm 71:9, 18.
- What is the change in God-language between Book 1 and Book 2?
- Yahweh — 278x in Book 1; 32x
- Elohim — 48x in Book 1; 198x in Book 2
- Compare Psalms 14 and 53. Why is this Psalm repeated? What differences are notable? What role does this Psalm play in understanding Book 2?
- What is the posture of God towards the nations in Book 2 (see Pss 65–68)? How is this different from Book 1? How does the extension of grace to the nations fit the larger story of Bible (see Genesis 12:1–3 and 2 Samuel 7:19)?
- What other questions remain? If David’s death is marked in Psalm 72:20, what might you expect to happen next in Books 3–5?
For Further Study
On Reading the Psalms
- Reading the Psalms Canonically: Neither Undisciplined Allegory nor Christ-less Historicism
- Textual, Epochal, Canonical: Do The Three Horizons of Interpretation Apply to the Psalms?
- Twelve Reasons for Reading the Psalms as a Unified Canon That Leads to Christ
Charts to Help Read the Psalms
Soli Deo Gloria, ds