The heart of any culture is its music, what it sings about reveals its soul. That’s one reason why the Book Psalms resonates with readers today. Through poetry, the reader is exposed to Israel’s history of captivity and freedom. The poems were written over a 1,000-year timeframe and preserved as Israel’s songbook. And like the best songs, the poems capture the tension, anger, sorrow, pride and joy that the nation felt during their defeats and victories.
On the other hand, many of the Psalms are also deeply personal. The intimate pleas for forgiveness, for justice, for retribution read more like a personal diary than a public songbook. Reading how someone else processes the uninvited disruptions in life is instructive. It models for us that being real and authentic before God is not only possible but approved of.
Whether written about the nation or the individual, a prominent feature of this Hebrew poetry is the use of imagery. Masterclass defines imagery as “a vivid and vibrant form of description that appeals to readers’ senses and imagination”. Since imagery remains figurative in the majority of the Psalms, the image can apply to a number of different situations. For example, when the author uses “the adversary” or “the enemy”, the actual enemy is unnamed. This gives the Psalms flexibility. As I read one day, my “enemy” may be my own tendency to procrastinate while years later the same imagery in the same psalm might apply to a form of cancer that is invading my body. The image speaks to the reader based on whatever “enemy” the reader is envisioning.
But how does this book of poetry relate to The Scarlet Thread of Redemption (referring to the theme of redemption that is traced from Genesis to Revelation)? The book of Psalms is powerfully used by Jesus himself to prove His pre-existence. Jesus, in the context of being questioned by the Pharisees (Matt.22:34-45) turns the table to ask them a question. “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son, is he?” They (the Pharisees) said to him, “The son of David.” He (Jesus) said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit calls him Lord saying, “The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”? (quoting Ps. 110). (ESV)
As L. Michael Morales writes in his article, Jesus and the Psalms, “Jesus saw himself as the object of all the Scriptures of the Old Testament, summarizing their threefold division in Luke 24:44 as “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms,” with the Psalms standing as the summary representative of the Writings.”
We gladly re-launch our Village Schools of the Bible blog with reflections of the Psalms written by the founder of our ministry, Monty Sholund. Monty was a prolific writer and his study of the Psalms shows how naturally he integrated God’s Word with everyday life. It is our aim that our blog posts on Tuesdays and Fridays will exalt the name of Christ as widely as possible, and encourage believers to apply their faith in everyday life.
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