Summary: An introduction to the book of Psalms

What’s Your Songbook?

Psalm 1 & Overview

One of the most prevalent parts of our society today is music. Think about it: we listen to it in the car, it plays in the mall, even elevators have it playing gently in the background. It makes a movie romantic, funny, or scary -- all depending on the type of music played.

So, what radio station did the Jews listen to? None! But music was a very central part of their lives. In our reading through the Bible, we have come to their songbook: the Psalms. The Psalms were sung by the Jews throughout the day.

There are a few key ideas for us to consider as we think about the Psalms. Psalms have a few common characteristics. Psalms are-

Poetry - an emphasis on parallelism of thoughts

Songs - to be sung over and over

Wisdom Literature - teaching sound truth in concise statements

The Psalms are not designed basically to teach doctrine, but it is impossible to experience the Psalms and not learn correct doctrine.

The Psalms are not just an account of what David [or another psalmist] was feeling, but rather the psalmist bares his soul to us, draws us into his world, and calls us to share his feelings and emotions as he uses example after example to show us his point.

*Smithsonian - "To Fly" - you actually see what the pilot sees

*Hersheypark - Cinemascope - you get dizzy, scared, nauseous

The Jews were a people given to expression. A Jew always had his own opinion. Ask ten Jews a question and you’ll get 25 answers.

*Day of Pentecost -a miracle- all in one accord in one place

Jews spent much time in meditation and personal reflection.

*Europe, Mexico - siestas at noon - we have lost much by our fast-paced lifestyles

Psalms were used by the Jews to express their innermost questions, problems, feelings, and praise. Psalms were used in liturgy, the worship ceremonies, but moreover, they were an integral part of daily life. The Psalter was the songbook and also the prayer book [cf. Anglicans] of the Jews.

Psalms were constantly on the lips of Jews.

*Mother - always singing around the house -

forgot the words, and made them up - the rejoicing spirit is what was important

*Dave Roever - music isn’t what you hear, it’s what you feel; the feeling is the important thing.

The Psalmist saw no difference between the secular and the sacred. His faith was his life. His beliefs were totally integrated into his day-to-day affairs. [Why do we seek to change this in America?]

Two main type of Psalms: lament (sorrow) and praise (joy)

The Psalms lead us in worship as we encounter every area of emotion in our life.

*funerals - why Psalm 23? The Psalms give us hope, and show us that in the midst of grief we can have love, comfort, and peace.

Psalms are designed to meet every need of our heart. They speak about many feelings:

life, death, persecution, affliction, sickness, doubt, worry, rejection, isolation, grief, adversity, enemies, friendship, love, questions of life, protection, daily provision, acceptance, self-worth, daily lifestyles, wise choices, grace, mercy, hope, the nature and character of God, and the hope of eternal salvation.

What questions are crying out in your heart? You will find them asked in the Psalms. What emotions are rushing through you? You will find them expressed in the Psalms. And you will also find comfort and answers in the Psalms. What problem are you faced with? The answer to coping is in the Psalms.

The Psalter, taken on its own terms, is not so much a liturgical library, storing up standard literature for religious ceremonies, as it is a hospitable house, well lived in, where most things can be found and borrowed after some searching, and whose first occupants have left on it everywhere the imprint of their experiences and the stamp of their characters.

*rummaging through attic - old toys/articles - useful for others-memories

*passing on old ball glove - crib - etc.

Psalms have become unfamiliar today.

1. We emphasize doctrine and teaching, but we fail to emphasize the emotional element.

2. We don’t take time to meditate, contemplate, and reflect

*"selah" - pause, and think of that!

3. We are afraid to show emotion

*The Psalmist was real; he admitted his feelings, and yes, his shortcomings: he shared them with us, and shows us how to give love and praise.

4. We are self-centered: we focus on self, and not on God.

So, having said all this, let’s look at Psalm 1

Psalm 1 is placed at the beginning of the book as a sort of preface or doorway to the whole book. It gives the main thrust of the whole book in 6 verses. The psalter is the praise book of Israel, and for a man to offer the right kind of praise to God, he first of all must have a right relationship to God.

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