I love the Psalms. Always have.
Even as an unbeliever the poetry and passion arrested my restless attention and drew me to take a closer look.
The Psalms have taught me to pray.
They have been my pattern of praise.
And they are a sure guide into the human condition, standing before God.
I have read them for pleasure, for instruction, by assignment.
I have read them piecemeal and in huge gulps.
And I’ve dissected and studied them.
I taught a class on the Psalms that lasted for over a year, culminating in us writing our own psalms and putting together books to keep them in for a memory.
It was a great class. And I was looking through my notebook yesterday and decided to share some of the insights and lessons we learned .
Basically, we had a list of questions that we answered about each psalm, and then finished by sharing what that particular psalm meant to us.
Before I gave them the questions, however, I challenged them to take a big gulp.
To read the entire book through once to get the style and language.
Then to read it again looking for attitude and placement in history.
And then to read it once again, just to look at the names of God this book revealed.
I gave them a month to accomplish these tasks and during that time I decorated notebooks for them with a pocket on the back that had a card with 10 questions on it. This was our analysis card- each psalm was looked at according to this criteria and then prayerfully considered with the last question in mind.
These are the 10 questions:
1) Who wrote it?
2) What are the circumstances? ( historically, personally, nationally?)
3) Are there questions asked? Identify them.
4) Are those questions answered? By whom?
5) Can I pray this psalm?
6) What names for God are used by the psalmist?
7) What is the relationship between the psalmist and God?
8) Are there any New Testament references ( or any other Biblical reference)?
Do the references make the psalm more clear?
9) Whose voices are heard? (ex. psalmist, God, unbelievers, nations, etc.)
10) What does it mean to me?
For the forseeable future, I am going to embark on this study again and post them on Sundays. You are welcome to study along with me and post your observations in the comments area- you are also welcome just to read along and enjoy- letting me know when you agree or think I’ve gone off the deep end.
If you are not interested, skip the Sunday portion of my blog, because I am headed for a journey into the Psalms.