Welcome to our online study on the Psalms. As a new believer, someone told me that God would speak to me through His Word, and so I always expected Him to, and He has. He will speak to you as well, because He is nothing if not a COMMUNICATING God (Jesus is the Word!).
My desire for us as we study this beautiful record of honest interaction with God is that we would:
- Hold our own thoughts about and experiences with God up against the record of the Psalmists’ thoughts and experiences. I am praying that the honesty with and about God in the Psalms would shape our views of God and inform our interactions with God.
- Use the Psalms as a model for our own personal and corporate times with the Lord. In our personal devotional time, we will focus on application, practicing the honest interaction with God we see in each Psalm.
- Selah . . . Selah is a Biblical term used in the Psalms. Its meaning is shrouded in history, but some commenter’s guess is “contemplative pause.” Our goal in this study is not only to learn things about God, but to take a contemplative pause with Him…to meditate on His Word and character until it begins to work its way into our lives. With this in mind, each week you will have the opportunity to choose one (or more) verse or truth to “Selah” over, to meditate on over the course of the week.
I suggest index cards for this purpose. Write out the verse on an the card, put it in a place where you will see it often – by the sink in your kitchen, on the dashboard of your car– and spend some time each day thinking about the truth in your verse, chewing it over. Ask God to use this meditation to change the way you think. Ask Him to reveal Himself specifically in the truth in the verse you’ve chosen.
Nature of the Psalms
The Psalms are a record of individual communication with the Lord. They are not “Torah” (the law). They are not instruction. These were used like a hymnbook. Some were even designated for certain times of year or festivals, just as today when many churches sing “Up from the grave He arose!” at Easter. For example, Psalm 100, which we’ll look at later, was associated with the giving of a Thanks offering.
Because they are different from other types of Scripture, the Psalms are often misinterpreted.
The difficulty with interpreting the psalms arises primarily from their nature—what they are. Because the Bible is God’s Word, many Christians automatically assume that all it contains are words from God to people. Thus they fail to recognize that the Bible also contains words spoken to God or about God—which is what the psalms do—and that these words, too, are God’s Word. That is, because psalms are basically prayers and hymns, by their very nature they are addressed to God or express truth about God in song.
This reality presents us with a unique problem of hermeneutics in Scripture. How do these words spoken to God function as a Word from God to us? Since they are not propositions or imperatives or stories that get us in touch with God’s Story, they do not function primarily for the teaching of doctrine or moral behavior. Yet they are profitable when used for the purposes intended by God, who inspired them, by helping us to express ourselves to God and to consider his ways. The psalms, therefore, are of great benefit to the believer who looks to the Bible for help in expressing joys and sorrows, successes and failures, hopes and regrets. (From How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, by G.D. Fee and D.K. Stuart)
Every woman I know wants to be more consistent with her “quiet time”–time to listen to the Lord and be in the Word.
Just sitting down and reading Scripture (chapter/day) hasn’t always worked for me. I tend to fall too quickly into checking things off my list and not LISTENING for God’s voice in the Word. I like to have some structure to it.
I’ve designed the class to provide structured time in the Psalms in your personal time. This week I’ll give you a few things to get started on, and you’ll briefly look at Psalm 1, which we’ll be studying together next week. From then on, the personal time will include: Looking at other psalms in the same type as what we studied in the blog post; Personal Response, and looking ahead to what we’re covering next week.
Now, to give you a taste of what’s to come, let’s look briefly at Psalm 100:
1 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
What is the main idea?
What verse/truth stands out to you?
To me this Psalm reads like a call to worship. It was probably used as part of a service involving the Thanks offering–the thanksgiving sacrifice.
What strikes me about this Psalm is the JOY portrayed in worship, service, and being God’s people. Joyful shouting, glad service, joyful singing. The people are coming into God’s courts with praise and thanksgiving . . . ON PURPOSE, not just because good things are happening. The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, His faithfulness to all generations.
I am praying that the Lord would grow this heart in us this summer. Please choose a verse from Psalm 100 to Selah, and write it on an index card. Take time to meditate on this verse during the week.
GOING DEEPER (for personal study)
Read Psalm 1 in preparation for next week’s study.
Psalm 1 is a wisdom Psalm. How would you define “wisdom”?
If you wish, you can join us in reading through the entire book of Psalms this summer. Click HERE for a .pdf copy of the weekly reading schedule. This optional activity will allow you to read all the Psalms, not just the ones we cover in class. This week: Read Psalms 1-8.
DISCUSSION (please share your answer with all of us by leaving a reply we all can read.)
For you, right now, today . . . what is the most meaningful thing about God?