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1361. An Introduction to the Psalms

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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October 17, 2022 7:00 pm

1361. An Introduction to the Psalms

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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October 17, 2022 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit begins a chapel series entitled “Encountering God,” with a message from the book of Psalms.

The post 1361. An Introduction to the Psalms appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from The University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit will begin a new study series from the book of Psalms entitled, Encountering God. I'd like to ask you to take your Bibles and turn with me please to the book of Psalms chapter 73.

And I want you to open your scriptures there and then leave it there as we begin because today I want to do just an overall introduction to the book of Psalms as we will look at it over the course of this semester. In your estimation, what do you think is ranked the most popular book in the Bible? There are 66 books in the Bible.

Which would be the one that people turn to the most? And if you say it's the book of Psalms, then you're correct. It has always been consistently ranked as the number one book in the Bible that people read.

So the question is, why? What is it about the Psalms that causes the people of God to turn to it so consistently? What is it about the Psalms that makes it so appealing to us? Well, in the autobiography of the early church father Augustine entitled Confessions, he quotes the book of Psalms on nearly every page and he tells us why. That is because he saw that after he was saved, that the Psalms were central to the reorientation of his life, both spiritually and morally.

In other words, leading his life towards God. Augustine spoke of being set on fire when he read the Psalms. And most significantly, he viewed a Psalm as the story of his own soul. In other words, why is it that we turn to the Psalms? Because we see ourselves in the Psalms as we read them. It's like God is telling your story.

You could call it your story as you read the Psalms. One writer, Trimper Longman, the third writes, the Psalms appeals to the whole person. It informs the intellect. It arouses our emotions.

It directs our wills and it stimulates our imaginations. When we read the Psalms with faith, we always come away changed. Through the Psalms, people have had life changing encounters with God.

So let me ask you a question. Have you ever felt like you met God when you read the Psalms? I was a youth pastor up in the state of Michigan from 1980 to 1985.

In 1982, I brought our seniors from our Christian school on a senior trip down to the wilds in North Carolina. It was also during that time, I'd been in the ministry for a couple of years. I was actually going through a number of personal struggles. And one of those was just the reality that I was not going to make a lot of money in life.

I hate to say that, but that was what I was thinking. Two years, been married for two years, living off of youth pastor wages. I was making probably about $12,000 a year.

And so that's not a lot of money by the way. You say, well, that was like a thousand years ago. Be quiet.

It wasn't that long ago. And I was driving a Baptist beater car. You don't know Baptist beater car?

We got a bunch of them here on campus and I really found myself personally struggling. And that is living in the light of what others had and what I didn't have. So I was struggling and that's where the Psalms comes in. Because every struggle we go through in life, you can find it answered in the book of Psalms. So I come to Psalm 73. And notice what it says in the beginning. I go up in the wilds, there's a room there and I go up there to have my devotions early in the morning before the day starts. And I'm reading Psalm 73, just in daily Bible reading.

And it starts out, it says, truly God is good to Israel, even to such that are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone. My step said, well, and I slipped for I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. I went, uh oh. And all of a sudden I entered into what Dr. Les Olala calls the I am level.

What does that mean? It means God meets you right where you are. That what you're struggling with, whether it's sin or whether it's issues or confusion or whatever. And God met me there. And if you read through the rest of the Psalm, it is the Psalmist dealing with the struggle he had in his own heart, the prosperity of the wicked. And it seemed like the righteous just keeps suffering. And then he came to the conclusion to the end of the book. And that is what you only see is the present.

You don't see the reality of eternity. And he makes a conclusion down at the end of Psalm 73, when he says in verse 25, whom have I in heaven but thee? And there's none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My heart, my flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart. And he is my portion forever.

In other words, if I have God, I have everything. And really that was an experience for me, like a mini revival during that time I was there. And God reoriented my mind, my spirit, my heart back to him. What happens when we encounter God in the Psalms? When Moses encountered God speaking out of a burning bush in the Sinai desert, what did he do?

The Bible tells us that he took off his shoes and he reverently worshiped God. The Psalms were written so that we could hear God's voice speaking to us directly and we could worship God reverently. Someone wrote it this way, the Psalms illuminates the mind for the purpose of enkindling the soul, indeed putting the soul on fire. It may be said that the purpose of the Psalms is to turn your soul into a burning bush. Perhaps no one understood this better than David, who is the primary author of the Psalms. He wrote right at about 50% of the Psalms. And the Bible summarizes David's experience of encountering God when it says he was a man after God's own heart. I think of that verse.

Am I a man or are you a woman after God's own heart? David had multiple personal encounters with God and he expressed them in the Psalms. David had constant I am level experiences with God. I am level, meeting God on the level where I am.

Not what people think about me, but what God knows about me right where I am in the deepest recesses of my soul. And the book of Psalms takes the word of God and literally like ointment to an open wound or medicine to the soul, God speaks right to the heart as you read the book of Psalms. And so that's what I hope this semester you will personally experience an encounter with God through the book of Psalms. So as we begin this study, let me just start out with some basic, what I would call simple elements of the book of Psalms. Just introductory material.

We'll move through this and it's just foundational. So four things. Number one, the first thing is the special features of the Psalms. And one of them is that the Psalms is the largest book in the Bible. It contains 150 chapters and 2,461 verses. The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119, 176 verses. The shortest Psalm is Psalm 117. It only has two verses. Psalm 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible.

It is the very center of the 1,189 chapters that are found in Genesis to Revelation. Psalms is written by more authors than any other book in the Bible. As we mentioned David who wrote at least 50% of the book of Psalms and he was called the sweet psalmist of Israel. The Psalms took the longest time period to write, almost a thousand years.

Going all the way back to the oldest Psalms, Psalm 90 written by Moses at about 1400 BC, all the way up to somewhere around 500 BC when the exiles came out of Babylon back to the land of Israel and Psalm 121 was written. Psalms is the most quoted Old Testament book in the New Testament. Out of the 360 Old Testament quotations or allusions in the New Testament, 112 of them come from the Psalms. The Psalms contains more prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament than any other book in the Old Testament. It reveals the Messiah as the Son of God, Psalm 2, the Son of Man, Psalm 8.

It reveals his obedience, Psalm 40, his betrayal, Psalm 41, his crucifixion, Psalm 22, his resurrection, Psalm 16, the ascension of the Lord, Psalm 68, and his enthronement of sitting at the right hand of the Father in Psalm 110. And probably one of the most unique elements of the book of Psalms is that it was the Jewish songbook. It was the hymnal for the Jewish people because the Psalms were always sung. The word Psalms in Hebrew means praises. In the Greek language, it means the plucking of strings. And the idea of the Psalms is that they are praise songs to be sung back to God using musical accompaniment, using or plucking stringed instruments like the harp or the lyre or as we can modernize it today as we use multiple stringed instruments as we sing in church or strumming a guitar in a small group.

The collection of these 150 Psalms in one book serves as the first hymnal for the people of God because it is pointing to the absolute importance that we worship God. And what I want to really emphasize is that you need to develop the daily habit, we often say a Bible reading, but actually is the daily habit of worship where I tune my heart, I calibrate my heart. The human heart is like a stringed instrument. It gets out of tune very quickly and you've got to take time to tune it up. And we all have to tune our hearts every day and we can get flat or we can get sharp. We can get flat or sharp because we use it. We can get flat or sharp because we don't use it.

We just get out of tune naturally. And the whole purpose of Psalms is tuning our hearts up to God so that we focus on Him and sing His praise. That leads me to the second thing and that is the style of the book of Psalms.

As we understand literary styles like narratives telling a story or prose like reading a book from the Apostle Paul, what is the Psalms? It's essentially what we call Hebrew poetry. But Hebrew poetry is very different than standard poetry we have in the English language that is built primarily upon a rhyme. And almost all of our hymnals, all our hymns are hymns written on that standard form with a rhyme at the end of each line.

But Hebrew poetry is very different. It is written on the idea of rhythm and most importantly, parallelism. And the idea of parallelism is that there are two lines and the two lines work together emphasizing some particular point or some particular idea.

For example, there is synonymous parallelism. That's kind of the most standard way a line is written. And that is where the second line repeats the first line. And it's just said differently.

For example, in Psalm 78, 36 we say, but they flattered him with their mouths, they lied to him with their tongues. The second line is essentially saying what the first line is saying, just slightly different. That's called synonymous parallelism.

They go together. Then there's antithetic parallelism. That is that one line, the second line contrasts the first line. For example, Psalm 34 verse 10, the young lions lack and suffer hunger, but here's the contrast, those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. So it's not rhyming, it's the idea of ideas working together.

And then the third form is called synthetic parallelism. And that is the second line adds to the first or explains it more thoroughly. This one you all know, Psalm 23 verse one, the Lord is my shepherd.

And what's the addition to that? I shall not want. In other words, that's because he is our shepherd, then therefore he's going to provide all of my basic needs of life. And of course, all of that speaks to our souls. Hebrew poetry is written in such a way as to create vivid pictures to stir up our emotions and our imagination. I mentioned Psalm 23. Think of all the pictures that are in that Psalm, a shepherd, green pastures, still waters, the valley of the shadow of death. He anoints my head with oil.

He sets a table provided with a meal, rod and staff. This is the way the Hebrews communicate. They always communicate with illustrations and images and figures of speech. Why? Because it touches both the mind and the emotions. You and I both know, we all know that you can eat food that is very bland. So what do you do to make it tasty?

You put stuff on it, salt, pepper, butter, garlic, hot sauce, everything that you can do to make it tasty. And God takes his truth. And it's not that it's bland, but because of who we are, he takes it and he makes it tasty. That's why the reading of the book of Psalms is so wonderful because it's taste for the soul. Included in the book of Psalms are a variety of types of Psalms.

And there are many different types. One writer, Trimper Longman, in his book on how to read the Psalms gave seven different types of Psalms. Number one, there are wisdom Psalms. We're going to look at that next week in Psalm one when we talk about discovering true happiness. This is where wisdom comes from. The second are Psalms of lament.

That's a third of the Psalms. What is a lament? It's the emotional heart cry of someone who is distressed, living in difficult times. If I could say it this way, they are people that are struggling with mental health.

How do you think? Or you could say it this way, life is sometimes terrible, but God is good. And so we're going to look at one of those Psalms of lament in Psalm 90, where it talks about have mercy on me. And then number three, there are the Royal Psalms, Psalms that prophesy of the coming rule and reign of the Messiah. Number four, there are hymn Psalms.

That is, they are times of just exuberant praise to the Lord. Psalm 100, make a joyful noise unto the Lord. We will look at that Psalm and it's entitled Eubilate. And then the fifth is our Thanksgiving Psalms. These are Psalms that express gratitude to God for his abundant blessings. Psalm 19, we'll study that glory to God. And then number six, there are remembrance Psalms where God actually goes through the history of the Jewish people. And we find those in Psalms like Psalm 78. And then finally, the last are Psalms of confidence or Psalms of trust, where the Psalmist acknowledges his trust in the Lord's protection and his power and his provision.

He is able to be at peace because we are able to be at peace because we have confidence in God. We're going to look at Psalm 23, the Lord is my shepherd and Psalm 121, the Lord is my helper and my keeper. All of these for the purpose of our hearts being kindled back to God.

And that leads me to the third element of this introduction. And that is the superscriptions that are written in the Psalms. Now you've noticed these before, and that is out of the 150 Psalms, 116 of them have different what we call titles or headings or notations.

For example, one identifies the author. Psalm 90, it says, a Psalm of Moses, the man of God. Psalm 120 to Psalm 134, a song of degrees or Psalms of ascents. You often read a Psalm of David. It establishes and identifies the author.

It established its historical circumstances and context. Sometimes it's David who after he met this priest of Nob and he wrote this Psalm. Or David as he's running from Saul and he's hiding in the wilderness. And then sometimes the Psalms, the superscriptions explain how the Psalms should be sung or played on a variety of musical instruments. And probably one of the most key superscription words we read in the book of Psalms is found 71 times.

You've read it before. It's the word Selah, S-E-L-A-H. What does that mean? Well, there's a variety of meanings. Some think it means a change of musical accompaniment.

Some look at it as a brief interlude with string instruments or we would say a break is being taken. But primarily the idea has come to mean that when you come to the word Selah, it literally means to stop and think about it. Think about this. Because what's in our mind, it's not just reading it, it's meditating.

It's thinking about it. It's applying it to our life. We're to take time and we are to meditate on it. And then the last thing I want to talk about are the steps that we can take to make the Psalms what I think God really intends for them to be in our own lives in three steps I want to talk about.

They're very, very simple things. Number one, the first is you really need to take time to study and meditate on the Psalms. Think about it. If you started your day every day just by reading one Psalm, if you read one Psalm a day that you would read through the book of Psalms two times in a year. If you want to spend more time, if you read five Psalms a day, you'd read through the whole book of Psalms in one month. But really what you need to do is study and meditate.

Meditation simply means to think about it. It's like what I was doing when I was reading Psalm 73. And here's the awesome thing about the book of Psalms that God meets you right where you are based on wherever you are in your life personally. Here I was struggling with where I was financially and I read Psalm 73.

It's like boom. It's like God is speaking to you. And this is the idea of the meditation. It is the reflection of the word that you're reading within the context of your own life. And so you need to study it, meditate upon it. You need to write your ideas down. That's called journaling.

I started journaling when I didn't even know that it was a popular word. And I literally would sit down and I would read what I was thinking about as I was reading the book of Psalms. I've done this many times, make a biography of God. As you read through Psalms, every time you see something about the nature of God, write that down.

And so you build this biography of your God. Memorize this particular Psalms that mean something to you, that speak to your heart. And then I would encourage something I've done recently over the last, actually I did it before I came to Bob Jones, is that every year of my birthday, I study the Psalm of my birthday. So if you turn 19, you study Psalm 19. Turn 20, study Psalm 20. And each year you keep adding those Psalms and take a day or two or three or a week just to work through that particular Psalm. And this year I studied Psalm 39. So that's the... I'm glad you're still awake.

Thank you. So study and meditate. Secondly, how many of you ever struggle with just praying? How many of you ever struggle with prayer?

Okay. How many of you find yourself, you want to pray and you start praying and suddenly your mind wanders? How many of you have ever... How many of you have ever studied, you tried to pray and you found yourself becoming like Peter, Paul and James and you fall asleep?

Anybody ever do that? My wife said, well, I noticed today you were praying. I said, how do you know?

She says, because there's a big drool spot right where your head was. The book of Psalms were written to actually be our guide through prayer. Where you literally take the Psalm and you turn the Psalm into really guiding you in what to say to God.

I mean, truly God is good to Israel. Here's your prayer. Lord, thank you that you're good. Even to them that are of a clean heart, God, I thank you that you've cleansed my heart through the blood of Jesus. And I pray, Lord, you'll cleanse my heart right now from all of my sins.

That's verse one. It becomes your guide to prayer. And what it will do is it will enrich your prayer life.

It will expand your prayer life. And then finally, the last thing is to actually sing. One of the evidential signs of a spirit control person is that they sing spontaneously. Now everybody's involved in music, but most people involved in music today are not really singing. They're listening. They put on their earbuds and they listen to the song.

I'm not saying that that's wrong. I'm just simply saying this, spiritual people sing and they take verses of scripture. In some cases, they make up their own songs, but it is a heart that is filled with truth and they're worshiping God. And the book of Psalms was written that we could have real genuine encounters with God. Here's my hope over this semester, that there will be in your own life, your own personal experience, a time where a Psalm or particular Psalms just literally jump out and speak to you. And you respond to God in humility, independence, and obedience.

And what you'll see is the truth of God coming alive in your life. Lord, we thank you for your word. We thank you for the book of Psalms that was written to teach us how to know you. Oh Lord, I pray for our student body that many of them will experience the burning bush of what you did for Moses in the wilderness. You'll do in our hearts through your word. Oh Lord, speak to us that we might walk with you in Jesus name.

Amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University from the study series, Encountering God, which is a study from the book of Psalms. We would urge you to get a copy of the study booklet so you can follow along as you listen to these sermons. You can get a printed copy from our website, thedailyplatform.com. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue this study of Psalms here on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 07:37:52 / 2022-12-03 07:47:18 / 9

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