After three weeks away from preaching, and hearing three faithful sermons on Psalms 22–24, Psalm 73, and Psalm 88, I took to the pulpit again yesterday. And instead of jumping into Book 3 of the Psalms, I sought to answer one question: How do we get into the Psalms? Or more precisely, how does a canonical approach to the Psalms apply to our daily devotions?
Comparing the Psalms to Christ-anticipating parade, I made the case that we must read the Psalms
- With Christ as our guide,
- Consecutively, and
- With Christ as our goal.
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (0 = they have no bearing; 10 = I read/pray them daily), how important are the Psalms to you? What has been your pattern or practice with reading, singing, praying the Psalms? How did that practice begin?
- Because the Psalms were written in Israel to Israel, how are Gentiles supposed to apply them? How might Jesus’ use of the Psalms in Matthew 21–22 teach us to read and apply the Psalms? (See Matthew 21:33–46 and 22:41–46).
- How does Jesus read the Psalms? How does his approach to the Psalms teach us to read them? Where else might we find help in understanding the Psalms? (hint: Hebrews 5–10 is an exposition of Psalm 110).
- What is the benefit of meditating on one psalm and praying it back to God? What is the benefit of reading the Psalms as one unified ‘story,’ a parade of lament and praise? How does knowing the ‘parade route’ help you read/pray the Psalms?
- What happens if you don’t read the Psalms consecutively? Or, what happens if you don’t know the history of King David and his sons? Where can you learn about David and his storyline?
- Why does David play such a prominent place in the Old Testament? What books find their focus on him? (Hint: Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles all make David their standard; and almost all the Prophets mention him; in the New Testament, David is the key figure in Matthew, see Matthew 1:1, 21).
- What is one thing you can do to better know the Psalms? What is one way you can make the Psalms a more regular part of your Christian devotion?
For Further Study
Here are three videos and three academic articles that may help you get a handle on the Psalms.
- Psalms: A Cantata about the Davidic Covenant by John Walton
- Recent Trends in Psalm Studies by David Howard
- The Redactional Agenda of the Book of Psalms by John Crutchfield
Soli Deo Gloria, ds