Bible Lesson 107

THE BOOK OF PSALMS (Part One)
Praise the Lord, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Psalms 103:1

In this lesson, we will make a review of the book of Psalms and attempt to encourage everyone who reads this lesson to study the book to gain a much greater understanding of God and His unlimited power and loving provision. The Psalms were inspired by God and used to express praise, worship, and confession to God.

The Psalms were written between the time of Moses and the Babylonian captivity. They were written by numerous writers, mostly by King David, who wrote 73 of them, Asaph wrote 12, the sons of Korah wrote 9, Solomon wrote 2, Heman and the sons of Korah, Ethan, and Moses each wrote one and 51 of them are anonymous. We can learn to better praise and worship God if we are familiar with the Psalms because they teach us that God is not only our Creator but our Sustainer, Redeemer and Savior and King. Many of us would help our praise and our prayers and our performance if we simply familiarized ourselves with the Psalms.

The Psalms are a picture of ordinary people who not only lived in this world, but they share their happiness and joy, their problems and sins, their praise and profession of the great God of Creation. They help us focus our thoughts in the right direction (God and His High heaven), and they help us to praise Him the way that He requires to be praised and worshiped. They teach us to repent and turn away from sin and turn to worship, trust, and serve God, as we live here in this dark environment of sin, as we live differently from sinners.

The Psalms are found near the center of the Holy Bible and as we consider that we should understand that the Psalms can be like a balance pole to us as we walk that narrow way that leads to eternal life. They help us to understand that God is not just a word that we use in the church but that God is a personal God, a God that we can know and trust and have an intimate relationship with. Our God is a Triune God (three but one). God is Spirit and He manifests Himself to us the creature, as Father in heaven, Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.

The Father planned our salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-5), The Son Jesus Christ purchased our redemption by giving up heaven for a time to come to take on the form and flesh of human beings, and live, teach and be crucified, to die and be buried and on the third day to resurrect and ascend back into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and the Holy Spirit exists to apply the benefits of God’s grace and Christ’s death to our lives whenever God draws us to the cross of Christ.

The Psalms teach us that God is all-powerful, being the source of all power, He is omniscient, being the source of all knowledge and wisdom, and He is omnipresent, having the capacity to be everyplace at the same time. Many of us already know in some sense that God is all of that but we have never dared to trust Him enough to experience it for ourselves. The Psalms portray for us how the love of God and the Grace of God affects those who are truly saved.

John Calvin, had this to say about the book of Psalms, ‘I may truly call this book anatomy of all parts of the soul, for no one can feel a movement of the spirit which is not reflected in this mirror. All the sorrows, troubles, fears, doubts, hopes, pains, perplexities, and stormy outbreaks by which the heart of men are tossed have been depicted here to the very life.’ That is certainly true about these wondrous verses of praise and worship of God, but there is even more. The Psalms act a light for our path, and if we study the Psalms and interpret it according to the rest of the Word of God we will certainly arrive at that narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13).

The Psalms give us knowledge of God and His immense power and point us to His creation as evidence of that power and knowledge. They open the window of Grace to us and gives us not only warnings of things that might snare us, but encourages us to help us along our pilgrim way.

If we read one of the Psalms and go no further than attempting to gain some kind of progressive instructions we may be disappointed because they were written to be used and understood as lyrical poetry that was written to be sung in connection with the harp, lyre, and other instruments. Graham Scroggie said of the book of Psalms, ‘How full of praise to God are these Psalms! The keyboard of Creation, Providence, and Redemption are all swept by the ecstatic soul; and heaven and earth, sea and sky, things animate and things inanimate are summoned to praise the Lord.’

An anonymous author has said of the Psalms ‘The harp of David still sounds in our ears, and the Holy Ghost has crystallized for us the prayers and praises of the son of Jesse. Someone said that architecture was music frosted. The Psalms are the music of the heart, sometimes plaintive and sad, sometimes joyous and jubilant, sometimes full of darkness and anguish, sometimes tranquil and happy, the music of David’s soul, preserved by the Spirit that, hearing it, we may feel encouraged to draw nigh to God.

Is it your desire to know God more intimately, to have that relationship with Him that puts you in touch with your Creator’ Do you want, more than anything else in the world, to please God with your praise and your prayers’ Then immerse yourself in the Word of God, especially in the Psalms, which are the prescribed by God, approved method of praise.

The Psalms were written over a thousand years, from Moses to Ezra; however, most of them were written during the three hundred years from David to Hezekiah (basically the same period as the rest of the Old Testament). They can be classified as Historical, Messianic, Prophetic, Penitential, or Imprecatory.

The Historical Psalms connect in some way with definite events or events in Israel’s history or the life of the writer. The Messianic Psalms deal with the suffering of Christ and the glories that would follow. The Prophetic Psalms point to Israel’s future tribulation and the subsequent era of peace and prosperity. The Penitential Psalms deal with confession of sins and desire for forgiveness. The Imprecatory (I’m-prec-atory) Psalms deal with asking God to take vengeance on Israel’s enemies.

Probably the only group of the Psalms that most people have a problem with is the Imprecatory Psalms because they call down curses on the wicked. That would have been perfectly appropriate for the Jews because they lived under the Law. That is not proper for us who now live under the dispensation of Grace.

We are commanded to love our enemies and do good to them that despitefully use us. We trust God and leave vengeance to the Lord. It has to be obvious to the careful reader of the Word of God, the Bible, that not all of the Scriptures are written directly to the church, much of the Old Testament is instruction for the nation of Israel, the elect Nation of God; however, all Scripture is profitable for the church, because we are told in Second Timothy 3:16-17, that ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.’

The Imprecatory Psalms are Psalms 7; 35; 40; 55; 58; 59; 69; 79; 109; 137; 139; and 144 . As we wrote earlier, the Imprecatory Psalms are ones that cry out for God’s vindication against someone or something. It was proper for the people of the Old Testament; because they were under the law; but we, under Grace, are to live above that. We are commanded to deal with bitterness and pain in a different way. We are to love our enemies and pray for those that despitefully use us. We have the power of God in and on our lives in the person of the Holy Spirit to enable us to do that.

A proper understanding of the book of the Psalms will enable us to better gain from them what God wants us to gain, and that is a guide for living. For instance, let’s look at the first Psalm which lifts for us the vast difference between the life of those who are righteous and the end of those who are ungodly. It begins by saying to the reader ‘..’Blessed is the man (person) who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, he meditates day and night.’

That verse speaks of those who are eternally blessed because they do certain things and do not do other things. They do not walk or stand or sit in the same places that ungodly people do. They do delight in the law of the Lord and they meditate on it day and night. To meditate on the law, one must first know the law, and once they know it they obey it and even think about it when resting or asleep.

This first Psalm points me and it should point you also to the New Testament book of Matthew, chapter seven and verse 13-14, where we find the point of separation between the saved and the lost, the blessed and the damned, the godly and the ungodly. Matthew 7:13-14 reminds us that two gates lead to two ways, which lead to two different destinations.

In those verses, Jesus Christ is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, and He warns us to beware and be awake because different ways lead to different places. There is a wide gate that leads to a broadway that leads to destruction (Hell); and there is a strait gate that leads to a narrow way, that leads to eternal life (heaven).

Those who fail the test of faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ will choose the wide gate and walk that broad way that leads them to an eternity of pain and terror and suffering in the flames of hell. Those who take the time and make the effort to find that strait gate (Jesus Christ) will walk that narrow way and spend their eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ who loved them enough to die to redeem them.

Psalms one deals with individuals and then in Psalms 2, we find instruction about nations. That Psalm begins by asking the question ‘Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing’ It should be obvious to those who are aware of the pulse of the world today that nations do and are raging against the true God, the God of the Bible, Jehovah. This stamps the doctrine of the depravity of man upon the entire human race. Man, the creature, has always been born dead in trespass and sin, and because of his depraved nature; God must work His miracle of the new birth. We have to be quickened before our salvation and only God can create that new creature that is born and lives in newness of life (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Can the creature do anything to overrule or deny God’s eternal plan for him’ not, we are told here in Psalms 2:4, ‘He who sits in the heavens shall laugh’. Man’s puny efforts to bind God and thwart His plans are nothing in the sight of God. If you will notice as you read the Psalms and study them, those who seek God with all of their heart will find Him; and God never loses one of them.

In Psalms 6 we find David as he prays in a time of distress and He prays, ‘O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak.’ David has a proper understanding of who his God IS and He feared and revered Him as a child does its father. I know that many in our time have sought to paint love over fear and good intentions over obedience of our God but that does not work. Fear and love in the Bible are two distinct works with distinct meanings that anyone who reads the Bible should understand. It is not any black mark against the dignity of man (what little dignity most men have) for him to fear the One who can not only kill his physical body but who can destroy both soul and body in hell, (Matthew 10:28).

Psalms 12 deals with the distinction between man and God. The unregenerate man is directly opposite to God. Man will use words to hurt others, but God uses His Words to heal and restore and protect. This Psalm begins by sounding a prayer that should be on the hearts and lips of every true Christian today, and that is ‘Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases!’ The question for us today is where have all the godly men and women of the world go’ Why is it that we are being overrun by evil and selfish crime’

Why is it that there are not many faithful men and women in the world today’ Many of our people claim membership in some local group or church, but they are not faithful to do what God has said that His children would do. The devil seems to have more children in the world today than the Lord does.

We are warned in the gospel of John chapter 8 and verses 37-45, about not knowing and abiding in the truth of God and that scripture tells us that those who depend on anything other than the person and work of Jesus Christ for their eternal security are children of the devil. In the 8th verse of Psalms 12 we find this statement, ‘The wicked prowl on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.’ is there anyone who can say that we have wicked people prowling around us everywhere and yet instead of standing for righteousness we have exalted the vilest among us and even elected many of them to represent us as legislators.

Psalms 15 points out the fact that only those who are righteous in Christ will ever know the peace and provision of the Lord. That Psalm tells us plainly that only those who walk uprightly, work righteousness, speak the truth in their heart, controls their tongue, loves their neighbor and friend, despises the vile person, but honors those who fear the Lord, will abide in the Tabernacle (Tent) of the Lord. The Psalms speak often of the Messiah (Jesus Christ), they speak of the announcement of God that the Messiah would be His Son (Psalms 2:7), they tell us that He would be scorned and ridiculed (Psalms 22:7-8) and on and on. The Psalms teach us to pray with the confidence, that God always answers prayer.

We have to remember that God does always answer prayer; but not always in the way that we pray the prayer. For instance, if I pray for something that would not be good for me or the Kingdom, God may say no! In Psalms 17 we find the marks of the truly saved person as he prays to God. David first states his cause is just, and our cause for help from God must always be a just cause. In other words, we should never pray for God to do something that would be illegal, unethical, or sinful in any way. In verse 3a of Psalms 17, we find David reminding God that he has found nothing amiss; and he had purposed that his mouth would not transgress. In verse 6 we find a confident David praying to his God and he knows it will be answered because David trusts in Him.

We cannot read the 18th Psalm without understanding that God is Sovereign, which means that God is the absolute ruler, being Omnipotent, Omniscience, and Omnipresent. God is King of all things and He rules with absolute power, and unless we are willing to submit ourselves completely to his rule in our life we cannot be saved (Luke 14:26-33). In the 18th Psalm, David who was king of Israel, says that God was his strength, his rock, and fortress, his deliverer. David went on to say that God rewarded him according to his righteousness, according to the cleanness of his hands (James 4:7-10).

As we read those words we have to remember that our righteousness is in Jesus Christ, and we do righteousness because Grace has become our teacher (Titus 2:11-14). The Psalms remind us of the Word of God (The Bible), and in Psalms 19, we find in verses 7-9, that ‘The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.’ Verse 12 of Psalms 19 reminds us that only God can cleanse us from secret faults; and encourages us to always ‘Let the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our heart be acceptable in God’s sight.’

I would say without hesitation that unless you are a student of the Psalms, that you probably are not a very deep Christian, and you are missing much of the promises of God. Certainly, we miss the encouragement of the numerous verses that point to how other saints have handled the problems of life. In the Psalms, we find a way to praise God and how to pray for His provision. C.S. Lewis had this to say about a Christian; ‘The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.’

That is good advice and if we all followed it to some point, and then took time throughout the day, to read and meditate on the Psalms, our lives would be much fuller. It is said that in our hectic world, there are so many things that lay claim to our time that we normally let some things slip or slide until later and many times later never comes, but instead is caught up in that never-ending rat-race that we call life.

Those who read and study the book of Psalms, always find comfort and encouragement in them, for instance, In Psalms 27 and verse 10 we find ‘When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.’ That promise should make us feel secure in the arms of God. Psalms 34:10a, reminds us that ‘Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing’.

God’s eye is on those that He has before ordained that they should do good works, (Ephesians 2:10). In Psalms 37:4 we are told to, ‘Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ We are told of a place of refuge and strength ..a very present help in trouble in Psalms 46:1, And hundreds upon hundreds more that I could list, but I aim to excite you to read and seek what God has for you in the Psalms.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob