What happens when your dreams are pulverized? To whom do you turn? Where do you run?
In the Psalms, Book 3 (Psalms 73–89) concludes with the crushing news that the crown of David had been buried in the dust of the earth. In short, because of Israel’s sin, and the sin of David’s sons in particular, God permitted the nations of Egypt and Babylon to plunder and then exile the nation of Judah. In 586 B.C., the final phase of God’s judgment sent the exiles to Babylon, destroyed the temple, and ended the rule of David’s sons. Second Chronicles 36 tells of this exile. And Psalms 88–89 sing of the horror of these events, wondering even how God could permit his covenant with David to suffer so great loss.
In last week’s sermon, I considered this tragic fall. This week, I moved into Psalms 90–106, where we discover what the God of Israel did to resurrect his people from the dust of death. In short, there is great encouragement in Book 4 of the Psalms. For anyone suffering the calamities of this world, even losing all that they own, this section of the Psalter is a powerful message of hope, as it continues to trace God’s work of redemption from David (Psalms 1–71) to David’s son Solomon (Ps 72) to David’s sons (Psalms 73–89) to the hope God himself dwelling with people (Psalms 90–106) and raising up a new David (Psalms 101–03 and 107–150).
If such a message sounds needed, you can listen to the sermon online or read the sermon notes. Below you will find discussion questions, the four infographics we’ve used to help outline the Psalms, plus a few articles I’ve compiled to help show why reading the Psalms as one story is both biblically faithful and pastorally fruitful.
- What is the darkest night of the soul that you have experienced? What gave you light in that circumstance?
- Historically, what are some of the darkest moments you can think of? How does the exile stack up? Read 2 Kings 25 and/or Lamentations for a refresher.
- To someone agonizing in darkness, caused by sin or some other calamity, what truths would you communicate? Why might abstract truths about God be insufficient to comfort? How does history, song, and story help “flesh out” biblical truths about God’s character?
- In Psalms 90–104, what are some of the truths about God we see? What role does history play in these Psalms. (You might consider the place of Moses and David, as well as the historical praise psalms, Psalms 105 and 106).
- What do Psalms 92–100 teach us about Yahweh? How do you understand the invitation to the courts of the Lord (Psalm 100), considering that the temple was destroyed in Book 3? What does God’s eternal reign mean to you?
- Compare Psalm 90:8 and 103:10. What makes the difference between these two psalms? How can a holy God not treat us according to our sin?
- What other observations stood out to you? How can you incorporate Psalms 90–106 into your lives?
- Finally, pick one Psalm. Read it, consider how the Psalms around it give helpful context. Pray the Psalm in light of that context and the promises it makes to believers in Christ?
The Peaks and Valleys of the Psalms
For Further Study
Over the last few weeks, I have written up a few posts to help get a handle on the Psalms. Here are a few of them.
- Redemption in the Key of D(avid): A One-Page Guide To Reading the Psalms Canonically
- Twelve Reasons for Reading the Psalms as a Unified Canon That Leads to Christ
- A Brief History of and Apologetic for Reading the Psalms Canonically
- Reading the Psalms from the Beginning: How Reading the Psalms Canonically Is More Ancient Than Modern
- Reading the Psalms Carefully Means Reading the Psalms Canonically: Six Quotations from ‘The Shape and Message of Psalms 73–89’
- Reading the Psalms Canonically: Neither Undisciplined Allegory nor Christ-less Historicism
- Textual, Epochal, Canonical: Do The Three Horizons of Interpretation Apply to the Psalms?
- Getting into the Psalms: A Personal and Pastoral Reflection
- Biblical-Theological Resources on the Psalter
Soli Deo Gloria, ds