the book of psalms

The book of psalms – conclusion

The book of psalms – conclusion

In this article, we will be concluding our summary on the book of psalms.

In the center poem, psalm 148 all creation is summoned to praise the God of Israel because he has “Raised up a horn for His people” The horn here is a metaphor of a bull’s horn raised in victory and this image echoes back to the same image used in Hannah’s song for Samuel chapter 2, but also to the earlier psalm 132.

The horn is a symbol for the future messianic king and his victory over evil.  It is a fitting conclusion to this amazing book.

Here’s one more thing that you are likely going to miss if you don’t read this book in order.  There’s lots of different kinds of poems in the book of psalms but they all basically fall into 2 big categories, either poems of lament or poems of praise.

Poems of lament express pain, confusion and anger, about how horrible the world is and how horrible the things are happening to the poet, and so these poems draw attention to what’s wrong in the world and they ask God to do something about it.

There’s a lot of these in the book, which tells us something important. That lament is an appropriate response to the evil that we see in our world.

What you’ll notice however, is that lament poems predominate earlier in the book (books 1 through 3) but pay attention because you’ll also see praise palms occasionally.

Praise poems are poems of joy and celebration and they draw attention to what’s good in the world and they retell stories of what God has done in our lives and thank God for it.

In books 4 and 5 you’ll notice that praise poems come to outnumber lament poems and it all culminates in that 5 part Halleluiah conclusion so this shift from lament to praise is profound and it tells us something about the nature of prayer.

As we hope for the messianic kingdom as the book teaches us to do, this will create tension for us as we look out on the tragic state of our world and of our lives and so the psalms teach us not to ignore the pain of our lives but at the same time, Biblical faith is forward looking, looking to the promise of God’s future messianic kingdom.

Therefore, Torah and Messiah, lament and praise, faith and hope are what the book of psalms is all about

Watch the video from Bible Project Here

Courtesy of Bible Project

the book of psalms

The book of psalms – part 2

The book of psalms – part 2

In the previous post, we introduced the book of psalms and book one. in this post, we will be looking at books 2 through 5.

Book 2 opens with 2 poems that are united in their hope for a future return to the temple in Zion. This is an image closely associated with the hope of the messianic kingdom.

It closes with a poem that depicts the future reign of the messianic king over all of the nation.

This poem is really amazing because it echoes all these other passages from the prophets about the messianic kingdom and it concludes by saying that this king’s reign will bring about the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise to Abraham to bring God’s blessing to all of the nations.

The book of psalms – book 3

Book 3 also concludes with a poem reflecting on God’s promise David, but this time in light of Israel’s exile.

The poet remembers how God said he would never abandon the line of David. However, he’s now looking at Israel’s rebellion and its resulting destruction and exile and the downfall of the line of David and so the poet ends by asking God to never forget his promise to David.

The book of psalms – book 4

Book 4 is designed to respond to this crisis of exile so the opening poem returns us back to Israel’s roots with the prayer of Moses and he does what he did on Mount Sinai after the golden calf incident, which is to call upon God to show mercy.

The center of book 4 is dominated by a group of poems that announce that the Lord the God of Israel reigns as the true king of the world, and that all creation, trees, mountains, rivers are all summoned to celebrate that future day when God will bring his Justice and kingdom over all the world.

The book of psalms – book 5

Book 5 opens with a series of poems that affirm that God hears the cries of His people and will one day send the future king to defeat evil and bring God’s kingdom.

This book also contains 2 larger collections, 1 called the Hallel, and the other called the songs of Ascents.  Each 1 of these collections concludes with a poem about the future messianic kingdom.

These 2 collections together sustain the hope for a future Exodus-like act of God to redeem His people. Right between them is psalm 119 which is the longest poem in the book. It’s an alphabet poem.

Each line begins with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it explores the wonder and the gift of the Torah as God’s word to His people so here we go.

The themes from psalms 1 and 2 – Torah and Messiah combine all together here in book 5 which brings us all the way back to that 5 poem conclusion.

Watch the video from Bible Project Here

Courtesy of Bible Project

the book of psalms

The book of psalms

The book of psalms

We have been learning to translate the book of psalms, which is an intricately designed collection of poetry that recounts Israel’s history and God’s covenant promises. To fully understand what the book is about, here’s is a summary from Bible Project

The book of psalms is a collection of 150 ancient Hebrew poems, songs and prayers that come from different periods in Israel’s history. Many of these poems are connected to King David (73) who was known as a poet and a harp player.

There are, however, many different authors behind these poems. There are the poems of Asaph, or from the sons of Korah, some are from other worship leaders and the temple. Even Solomon and Moses have their own psalms.

However, nearly 1/3 of these are anonymous. Many of these poems came to be used by the choirs that sang in Israel’s temple. The book of psalms is actually not a hymn book. At some point in the period after Israel’s exile to Babylon, these ancient poems were gathered together and intentionally arranged into the book of Psalms before us.

It has a very unique design and message that you’re not going to notice unless you read it from beginning to end. To see how the book of psalms is designed it is most helpful to start at the end.

The book concludes with 5 poems of praise to the God of Israel and each one begins and ends with the word Hallelujah which is Hebrew for a command to tell a group of people to praise YAH which is short for the divine name Yahweh.

It is a really nice 5 part arrangement and it looks like someone is giving us a conclusion here to the book. This invites the question, does the book have any other signs of intentional design?

If you pay attention to the headings of the poems you’ll notice that at 5 places, Bible translators have the heading book 1, book 2, .., book 5 at various points.

These divide the book into 5 large sections. The reason for this is that the final poem in each of those sections have a very similar ending but looks like an editorial addition which reads something like, “May the Lord the God of Israel be blessed forever and ever, Amen and Amen”.

So the book has a conclusion, it has an internal organization into 5 main parts and so the natural place to go from here is now the beginning to look for an introduction where we find psalms 1 and 2.

Psalms 1 and 2

These 2 psalms stand outside of book one because most of the poems in book 1 are linked to David. Psalms 1 and 2 are anonymous. Psalm 1 celebrates how blessed the person is who meditates on the Torah, prayerfully reading it day-and-night and then obeying.

The word ‘Torah’ means teaching and more specifically it came to refer to the 5 books of Moses that begin the Old Testament. Here, the word seems to be used with both meanings in mind, which explains why it has 5 main parts.

The book of psalms is being offered as a new Torah that will teach God’s people the lifelong practice of prayer, as they strive to obey God’s commands given in the 1st Torah. Psalm 2 is the poetic reflection on God’s promise to King David from 2nd Samuel chapter 7, that 1 day a messianic king would come and establish God’s kingdom over the world, defeat evil and rebellion among the nations.

Psalm 2 concludes by saying that all those who take refuge in the messianic king will be blessed. Precisely the word used to open psalm 1 and so together these 2 poems tell us that the book of psalms is designed to be the prayer book of God’s people as they strive to be faithful to the commands of the Torah as they hope and wait for the future messianic kingdom. Now with these 2 themes introduced we can start to see how the smaller books have been designed as well around these 2 ideas.

The book of psalms, Book one.

Book one has right at the center, a collection of poems, palms 15 through 24 that opens and closes with a call to covenant faithfulness.

In psalms 16 to 18 we find the depiction of David as a model of this kind of faithfulness. He calls out to God to deliver him and God elevates him as king.

In the corresponding set of poems, psalms 20 to 23, the David of the past has become an image of the messianic king of the future who will also call out to God, He will be delivered and then given a kingdom over the nations.

Right at the center of this collection is psalm 19, dedicated to praising God for the Torah. So here we go. The 2 themes from psalm 1 and 2 are bound together tightly there.

Watch the video from Bible Project Here

Courtesy of Bible Project

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Njang 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
  1. Mbàynɨ̀sɨ lali meyn a ma ibàm a Bôbo Fɨ̀yìnì, dvɨ̂ kɨ tèyn.

Ghelɨ awo abɨ-a jɨŋ meyn kàli mà nô sɨ a idvɨ̀,

Nà choʼ àvɨ àkema.

  1. Àŋena nɨn bê na, “Fɨ̀yìnì fɨ̀ nɨn gâmtɨ̀ wì ŋweyn.”
  2. Mɨtì wa ghɨ àbâʼ a ma atu a Bôbo,

Ma wà ni meyn ma na koʼnɨ-à.

Wà lisi meyn ìwumi sɨ a ma atu.

  1. Mɨ n-dzɨ̂ nô mɨ ɨlvɨ gha a Bôbo,

Wa yvɨ ma alèʼ alaynɨ-a nɨ̀ và

  1. Mɨ n-nyɨŋì-à, ma nà buni-à, ku-à,

Wà n-kinî mà a Bôbo.

  1. Mɨ n-fâyn wì afo,

Nô mɨ ta mbàynɨ̀sɨ̀ kèʼ ma kɨ̀ ɨbyâs ɨ̀jɨ̀m, dvɨ̂ kɨ tèyn.

  1. Gàmtɨ ma ɨ nù mbàynɨ̀ semsɨ a Bôbo.

Wà lum wumsɨ̂ kɨ wumsɨ àŋena a Fɨ̀yìnì femfɨ.

  1. À n-gâmtɨ Bôbo Fɨ̀yìnì gâmtɨ̀ ghelɨ.

Boysɨ ghelɨ̀ ghya a Bôbo.

Lord, how many are my foes!

    How many rise up against me!

Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”[b]


But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.


I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.


Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.


From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.