God’s Book of Experiential Faith

My wife and I have been reading the Bible through this year as the books appear in Scripture.  Sometimes we read it through according to chronology.  Right now we are in the Psalms.

The name Psalms if from a Greek term denoting “music on a stringed instrument.”  This is Israel’s collection of hymns of praise and worship and is for Christians as well.  Indeed, only the book of Isaiah is quoted more often in the New Testament than are the Psalms.  The Psalms reflect the whole range of human emotions from deepest despair to the highest expressions of praise and worship.   Thus, the Book of Psalms has been called the inspired record of experiential religion.  This Old Testament book has inspired more hymns and spiritual songs than any other book of the Bible.

The evidence indicates that the Book of Psalms was composed by a number of writers over a long period of time.  In this sense, the book is like a modern hymnal by many authors, written at different times.  Since David had such a genuine interest in establishing worship and began the liturgical use of some of the Psalms, it is reasonable to associate the early collections with him as King of Israel.  (I Chron. 15-16)  Singing of songs in the House of the Lord also was introduced by David.  (I Chron. 6:31)  And reference was already being made to “the prayers of David.”

Ezra may have been the final editor of the book in approximately 440 B.C.  This means the Psalms were collected across 550 years from around 1000 B.C. (the time of David) to the time of Ezra.  One Psalm assigns Moses as author which means the first composition may have been around 1400 B.C. as internal evidence suggests the Old Testament was written over a thousand year period between 1400 and 400 B.C.

There are 73 Psalms ascribed to David, Israel’s great warrior King who was also a poet and musician, 12 to Asaph, 10 to the sons of Korah (these two names probably refer to guilds or choirs of temple singers), two to Solomon, and Psalm 90 to Moses with 49 being anonymous.   David is called “Israel’s singer of songs” in 2 Samuel 23:1, and described as skilled on the harp in I Samuel 16:16-18. He is referred to as the model poet-musician in Amos 6:5.

Ten of the Psalms (2,18,20,21,45,72,101, 110,132, and 144) are called Royal Psalms as they deal with the spiritual role of kings in the worship of God.  Dr. Samuel Schultz, Old Testament professor at Wheaton College, believed it likely that Kings Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah and others contributed toward the arrangement and extended use of the Psalms in subsequent centuries.

Psalm 144 is sometimes called the War Psalm as it deals with preparing for battle against treacherous enemies with a prayer for victory.  The Psalmist hails the Lord as his strength, his goodness, his fortress, his high tower, his deliverer, his shield, the object of his trust and the One who gives him the loyalty of the people.  These are the natural expressions of one accustomed to warfare in a rocky and mountainous land.  He attributes his military skills to the instruction of the Lord.  Although intended quite literally, these ideas have applications to the Christian’s warfare.  (II Cor. 10:3-5; Ephes. 6:10-17)

What might this mean to us today?  We have had godly leaders like these kings in the Psalms who set the right spiritual tone for our nation.   George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan come to mind.  Right now we do not have that and we are faltering as a nation because of it.  This can lead to fear.  One of my favorite verses in the Psalms is 34:4:  “I sought the Lord and He heard me;  He delivered me from all my fears.”   God remains the same and is our Source of strength, our fortress and our high tower come what may.

Feeling down and discouraged and that we are all facing danger?   That is common right now.  Turn to Psalms such as 34:19, 55:22, 91 and 121.  In the Psalms we find joy for life and inspiration for the worship of God.  He is still in charge and in God we have hope for these days and always.  Evil will not ultimately prevail.  This too will pass.  The last verse of the last Psalm is a good place to conclude:  “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

Eutychus

 

 

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