*Oh I hope you like my titles as much as I like coming up with them. Today we are going to begin a look at the book of Psalms. We will not cover every psalm, but will spend enough time with this book that you will be more familiar with each at the end. We will look at particular psalms, including the very beloved Psalm 23. Today's lesson will be more of an introduction.

"'Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy." (Psalm 33:1-3)

Did you notice it said to "play skillfully?" This is further proof that the verse "make a joyful noise to the Lord" (Psalm 100:1 KJV) is not permission to sing or play badly. No, God wants us to give God our very best, including new material. That's right! God wants more than just the "old songs" that we long to hear. Oh, I like the old songs too, but God is the object of our worship. Oh, well, I want to back up now and look at the Psalms as a whole.

What would life be like without music? My wife will tell you that when it comes to music I'm as picky as anyone. But, I will be the first to say that life would be dull without it. Music has always been one of the most communicative modes of human expression. Music even existed in ancient times and the Psalms (that we read) are Israel's songs of faith. They are more than songs, however. The Psalms are also Israel's prayers from times of despair, tragedy, and alienation. The Book of Psalms served as both Israel's hymnbook and prayer book.

The individual psalms came from various places and times. Some psalms were addressed to God, while others were about God, the king, or the Torah. The psalms are commonly associated with King David, who is believed to have written some of them. However, David did not write all of them, and may have been given credit for some that he didn't write. For example: an inscription that reads "A Psalm of David" might indicate that the psalm was dedicated to David, and not written by him.

There are various genres found in the Book of Psalms. There are psalms that are nothing but complaints. In fact, the majority of psalms (one-third) are complaint psalms often describing the psalmist's feelings of lament or abandonment. Sometimes they are the complaints of a community and sometimes simply of an individual. One example of a complaint psalm is Psalm 22. We will look at this psalm more in-depth later. It was quoted by Jesus while he was dying on the cross. You may recall the cry of Jesus: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" This was a quote from the twenty-second Psalm.

Some psalms are psalms of Thanksgiving, or expressions of gratitude. These psalms were usually written to reflect the gratitude of the people after deliverance. These psalms, as we will see, are different than hymns. On example of this type of psalm is Psalm 30: "I will exalt you, O Lord, for you have lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me." (verse one) This is clearly the psalm of an individual. (whether David of not) Then we read in Psalm 65:1 the words "Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled." These words of thanks are clearly from a community of people.

The third genre of psalms is made up of hymns. A hymn is a song in praise of God, or in praise of something about God. A hymn is NOT really praise for what God has done, but is praise for who and what God is. One example would be Psalm 117: "Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever." There are actually various types of hymns found in the Psalms. There are hymns dealing with creation, Yahweh's kingship, and Mt. Zion. (location of the temple and God's residence.)

The Psalms are actually divided into five books, each with its own benediction.

Book one: Psalm 1-41 (benediction is 41:13)

Book two: Psalm 42-72 (benediction 72:18-20)

Book three: Psalm 73-89 (benediction 89:52)

Book four: Psalm 90-106 (benediction 106:48)

Book five: Psalm 107-150 (benediction all of Psalm 150)

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we will begin looking at particular psalms. Have a blessed day. Pastor Rick

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