The Psalms are mainly poems of praise to God, right? Wrong. Only 20% of the psalms are classified as psalms of praise.
All Biblical psalms are collected in what we know as the “Book of Psalms” or “The Psalter.” Wrong. Psalms are scattered throughout the Old Testament from Exodus through the Minor Prophets.
The Psalms were written by David. Wrong. Nor even the majority but only half the Psalms are attributed to David. That leaves 75 in the book of Psalms written by someone else, and most of the others scattered throughout the Bible as well. Some were written hundreds of years before David and some hundreds of years after. In fact, the book of Psalms covers roughly a thousand years, 1500-500 BC.
Yes, the Psalms were inspired, but it is poetry not something important. Oh my, what an error that was. The book of Psalms is quoted in the New Testament more than any other book of the Old. Jesus himself places it right alongside the Law and the Prophets as authoritative and instructive scripture (Luke 24:44-47). If you want a slap-in-the-face shock, read every place those psalms are quoted in the New Testament and note how the writer or the passage is described: David was “in the Spirit.” David wrote “by the Holy Spirit.” Those psalms are “scripture,” “fulfilled prophecy,” and God-given “definitions.” Then you can re-read that earlier Psalms article on Bible study and see once again exactly how important these passages are precisely because they are poetry.
Misconceptions about the scriptures abound. All you need do is talk to some skeptic for awhile. They think they are so smart, and when it comes to worldly knowledge perhaps they are. They would certainly outdo me on an IQ test. But they are woefully ignorant of the scriptures, and if you ever want to look foolish, try expounding upon something you know nothing about in front of people who know quite a bit about it. My husband, the former law enforcement officer, can hardly stand to watch crime dramas any more. All he sees are the errors about guns, about evidence, even about the law and police procedure. When it comes to ignorant people scorning the scriptures we should be exactly the same way--seeing their ignorance instead of falling for it. If we aren’t, maybe it is because we are ignorant. How can we expect to defend the Truth if we don’t know what we are talking about?
But for now, just consider your own misconceptions about the Psalms. Surely I am not the only one.
If you think the book of Psalms is nothing more than Israel’s songbook, you are mistaken right off the bat. But for the sake of argument, if we were to pattern our own singing on this inspired work, what would we be singing? Lately we seem to be singing nothing but hymns of praise. At the risk of sounding irreverent let me remind you: only 20% of the psalms are praise psalms. What percentage do you sing? Would you be shocked to discover that the largest group of psalms is psalms of lament? Then we have psalms of thanks, psalms of trust, wisdom psalms, and even psalms about our earthly government—boy, do we need those these days!
We have instructive psalms, historical psalms, and psalms about the Law. Sadly, many Christians today need to be reminded of the importance of following God’s law. In fact, the theme of the whole Psalter is the covenant between God and His people, usually stated in words like, “You are my people and I am your God, therefore…” It is the “therefore” that people do not want to deal with, including some of my brethren. Maybe we sing nothing but the new praise psalms because they demand so little of us. Those old hymns everyone seems to be tired of make you look at yourself in painful ways. They call for change in our character and attitudes. If we cleared up our misconceptions about the Psalms, I wonder how our singing would change. I wonder how our approach to authority would change. I wonder how our lives would change.
Or are we no better than a so-called religious person who believes he can pick and choose among the passages in the Bible and still be considered one of God’s people? Are we ignorant and happy to remain so? God expects more from his covenant people. He always has and He always will.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. Hebrews 12:22-25.
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