READ PSALM ONE
If you’ve been a part of any of my studies in the past, you likely thought you knew what to expect this morning as we dive into the first day of study: a book overview study. Book overview studies are crucial for exegetical study. They allow us to gain a bird’s eye view of the book as a whole, understanding the book in its original cultural and historic context, understanding who the author is and when the book was written.
But, our study of the book of Psalms is going to look a bit different. Because the book of Psalms is so large and diverse in its content – (there are Psalms that cover all kinds of topics and emotions, it was written by several different authors at different times) – we’re going to be selecting chapters to study that speak specifically to our study on supplication and surrender in prayer. Traditionally, this would be called a topical study since we won’t be moving from chapter one verse one chronologically to the end of chapter 150.
Yet, this study is also exegetical. When we look at each of the Psalms that we have selected, we are going to do so exegetically, working verse-by-verse through them so that we don’t miss a thing. We’ll understand each chapter’s author and the context in which each was written, doing something of an overview for each section of the Psalms we are going to study.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
What do you know about the book of Psalms?
What are some of the themes you’re familiar with in the book of Psalms?
Do you know any of the authors who wrote any of the Psalms?
The book of Psalms was a compiled book of prayerful poetry, written by various devout Israelites. The book, once compiled, served as the hymnal for the people of God; hence, it is often referred to as the Psalter. These Psalms express the breadth of the spiritual and emotional experience in the life of the person of faith, and it was meant to be the formative book for the people of God in the Old Testament. Many of our Christian traditions today utilize the Book of Common Prayer. This book walks Christians prayerfully through the year, covering topics of grief, need, praise, and gratitude. The Psalms served in a similar way for the people of Israel throughout their journey of faith. It was a resource for them when they didn’t know how to pray, and, as they followed it, they were formed as they prayed God’s Word.
Have you thought of the book Psalms in this way? Do you use it to guide your life of faith? Have you used it as a prayer guide previously when you’ve experienced grief, need, praise, or gratitude?
To help us get our bearings, we need to understand the overall literary structure of the book of Psalms. The book is divided into five primary books, or collections. Think of them like sections in the overall book of poetry. The five books were likely compiled over several years, and are arranged like this:
Book 1 (Psalms 1-41),
Book 2 (Psalms 42-72),
Book 3 (Psalms 73-89),
Book 4 (Psalms 90-106),
Book 5 (Psalms 107-150).
Each collection begins by presenting a need to God – a need for salvation, victory, peace, or hope. And, each section is concluded with a doxology – a worshipful prayer reflecting on God’s character. Though each collection is littered with prayers of supplication – expressing need or want or lack – each is concluded by reciting God’s unchanging character and praising Him for His good deeds among men.
Why is this significant for the life of the believer?
This week, we will be looking at Psalm one and its place of importance in the overall structure of the book. I want to encourage you this week to read Psalm one each day aloud, if your circumstances allow. Read it slowly, and read it reflectively, because, as we’ll see in the days of study to come, this short chapter is not only rich in Hebrew meaning; it’s also dripping with Gospel good news.
Pray & Reflect:
Supplication: Ask God to give you a prayer life that always concludes with doxology – worship. Ask Him to mold your heart throughout this study into a heart that brings your requests before Him and submits yourself to His good and righteous character.
Submission: Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for His various attributes, and ask Him to help you trust His unchanging character.