Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 27


Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 27
Watching Now

I. Introduction

II. Studying the Psalms

A. Form-critical approach

B. Cult-functional approach

C. Canonical approach

III. Ten Types of Psalms

A. Overview

B. Lament

C. Thanksgiving

D. Hymn of praise

  • Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt

Survey of the Old Testament



I. Introduction (00:11):

The book of Psalms, I'm excited about this one because the whole shift in genre for us. We're done with the doom and gloom of the prophets. Now we're going to dive in together.

A. Structure of the Book (00:23):

The Psalms is the first book of the writings and it reminds us that covenant life is a life of worship. It is about worshiping the creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh the great king, our savior and redeemer. This book is a collection of 150 Psalms subdivided into five books and contained as many as 10 different types of Psalms. You know, we have our folk, our country, rock and roll, hip-hop, classical. The same thing happens in the Psalms. We've got 10 different types. We've got bluegrass, folk, that kind of business. The word Psalm is of Greek origin derived from the Greek word Psalmus. So you can hear it in there, which refers to the playing of stringed instruments.

B. Theme (01:00):

This is how the Septuagint or the Greek translation of the Old Testament translated the Hebrew word mizmor, which means a poem sung to accompany something played on a string instrument. So it occurs 57 times in various song titles to be played with musical accompaniment. The Hebrew title is Tehillim. We know it means praises. The Rabbinic tradition used to call this, Sefer Tehillim, which means the book of praises. In terms of the regulative principle that I adhere to, I never have once heard any Psalm played by an organ. Therefore I prefer not to hear an organ in church. That really goes against my tradition because they're all organ lovers. So I always tell my students an organ is a body part, not a musical instrument. Many of the Psalms are connected with David and kingship and may be the dominant theme of the book.

C. Authorship (01:52):

Both Davidic kingship and the kingship of Yahweh are highlighted in this book, and we know eventually with the incarnation that the kingship of Yahweh and the Davidic kingship become one. That was always the mystery revealed to us. In first Samuel 16, David is hired by Saul to play music, to comfort him when he is tormented by the evil spirit from the Lord. So David has a very early music ministry career. He was the official first music minister in Saul's house. We note from there, he arises to be Saul's armor bearer in that same chapter. He's kind of the ultimate warrior poet. Who wrote the book of Psalms? Lots of people did. 73 of the Psalms are ascribed to David by a superscription, which is ledawid.

D. Superscription (02:41):

It just means to, for by David. That superscription appears in 73 of the Psalms. In your Bibles, that superscription is usually italicized and outside of verse one, right. In the Hebrew Bible, those are all a part of the real verses. There was a debate of whether they're authoritative or not, or original. Probably the most conservative evangelical will take them as original. Some might say, "well, we don't exactly know", but I think they're legit, especially the ones that have the historical part to it, like when David is fleeing from Absalom. It's giving you the historical context out of which this occurred. So that's an important for the book. There's a bunch of those in there. Not all of them have superscriptions, but some of them do.

E. Contributors of Psalms (03:23):

This is about David in second, Samuel 23:1. “These are the last words of David, the Oracle of David son of Jesse, the Oracle of the man exalted by the most high, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel's singer of songs”. We know also that Solomon wrote over a thousand songs. So he was really into the songs thing, a musical family. In addition to David, we have Asaph writing 12 of them, we have Solomon writing two of them Psalm 72 and 127. So he had over a thousand songs and he got two in. So David beat him on that day. So sons of Korah, have 11, Moses has one, Heman the Ezrahite. Heman the Ezrahite, has one and Ethan, the Ezrahite has one. So there's lots of different contributors there. So some of the Psalms are as old as Moses.

F. Psalms of Ascent (04:21):

Some of them are as late as the Babylonian exile. When they're singing about exile in Babylon. In addition to those different authors, there are also different clusters of the book of Psalms. There are the Psalms of Ascent. So Psalm 120 to 134 are the Psalms of Ascent, and the Psalms of Ascent mean going up. So Walt Kaiser has a book on the Psalms of Ascent. It's like the Pilgrim's journey home, but what they were probably originally done for, is during those three times every year when you'd go to the temple to worship, you sang them on the road. They're road trip songs. Then they were adopted as a type of  journey of faith. There are also the Hallelujah Psalms. Many of them begin with Hallelujah, sing, sing, sing and end with Hallelujah.

That's how that works. There are the Korahite Psalms, Psalms 42, 44 to 49. The Asaph Psalms, Psalms 73 to 83. There's a lot of intricacy going into the development of this book. The order of the Psalms is not going to be random. They just didn't throw them in there. They're going to be grouped by reasons and rations. We're going to talk about that in a minute. You need to look that up on the internet, look for the sons of Korah. They are an Australian band that sing the Psalms. They're not the same Psalm singers. But they're a modern one and they're very good.

They've put the Psalms to modern music and they try to pick music that goes with the nature of that Psalm. So if it's Thanksgiving, it's more happy if lament a little more sad. It's a wide variety of genre, but I really like those guys. My kids have memorized more scripture by having those songs on in the car than ever. For instance, one time they had to memorize all of Psalm 139 for school and guess what? They already knew it. They learn music so easily. It's a good way to do it. I highly recommend it. I always tell my students to get those songs and listen to them in the car. How do you study the Psalms? There are three basic approaches to Psalms studies nowadays.

II. Studying the Psalms (06:42):

Most of this, I'm going to give you in the next five minutes, is related to the fact that if you ever do further study, you're going to hear about different options for studying the Psalms, and I want you to be aware of them. All right? So some people approach the Psalms in a form critical manner, form critical manner, which means they're looking to classify Psalms by different forms. This was started by a guy named Hermann Gunkel. He lived between 1862 and 1932. So you can think about right at 1900, this form critical approach emerged. It analyzed the structure noting that some forms of expression appealed to conventions and different structures on a regular basis. So, from this analysis, Gunkel sought to categorize all Psalms according to their Psalms types, particular forms. In fact, we know that at least three of the Psalms that we're about to encounter had a very specific structure to it.

A. Form-Critical Approach (07:34):

I'm going to teach you the structure and you can learn to pray that way. So, that's a great way to do it. I'm going to teach you the structure of the three Psalms that we knew. So that's the form critical approach and it was good, but it also had its negative consequences, but we're not going to worry about the negatives. Then there was the cult functional approach and this was a guy named by Mowinckel. The funny thing is that he was Gunkel’s student. He said, "well, form critical stuff is good, but I'm going to advance it and I want to know when these Psalms were used in the cult, or in the temple, or in worship". So he tried to go by back and find all these little secrets, like, are they mentioning the temple, steps, alter, sacrifice?

B. Cult-Functional Approach (08:12):

He was just trying to figure like, "oh, could this be done on a new year's festival?" You know, that kind of stuff, and of course it was just fantasy land stuff because you never ever knew. Some Psalms would have talked about war experiences and the temple, or talked about going up or going down. People spent a lot of time trying to figure out "is this a new year's festival, a covenant renewal ceremony, a feast, a festival, a Sabbath..." It’s okay, you can sing all of those on any day. They're good Psalms.

C. Canonical Approach (08:40):

The last approach is the one that Jesus prefers for you to study with and it's called the canonical approach. This is really an approach that began back in the the 1980s.

This approach said, "Hey, there are a lot of different forms and hey, there could be a lot of different uses, but as the book stands now as a whole, is there a message there in the book?" As the Canon now stands as a whole, is there a message there, you know how I told about the writings and how they're structured and there's a message to that. Does the book of Psalms have a message in its approach? Well, it was made possible by guy named Brevard Childs who is a liberal, who said, "it's okay to study the final form of the Bible. It's okay evangelicals, do it". Then a guy named Gerald Wilson, who is an evangelical and a student of Childs, did his dissertation on the Psalms and said, "let's begin to see what's at work here".

Wilson’s book came out and he finished his dissertation. I think in the late seventies, early eighties, and then published his work in '85. Since that time, it's grown. He actually taught at Azusa Pacific University at the last part of his life where Bill taught and I was a student. So there's some connection there. Wilson concluded, the book of Psalms was the result of purposeful editorial activity, which sought to impart a meaningful arrangement, which encompasses the whole. You'll remember from my earlier lectures, that God is never a God of chaos only in judgment. He's a God that begins with chaos and leads to cosmos. So we can think of it that way. There were 150 Psalms out there and God put them together in a way that He built a house.

There's meaningfulness to that house. Such a reading of the Psalter led Wilson to conclude that the book divisions of the Psalter were real, editorial induced structures. Furthermore Wilson noted that the shaping of the Psalter appears to be evident at the seams of the various books where Royal Psalms appear to have been strategically positioned. So here's what I'm going to give you. This is our book of Psalms right here, in terms of an outline. Remember how I gave you an outline for Ezekiel and Jeremiah. This is the Psalms outline and actually has these book divisions in the manuscripts. These are legit. We're not making them up. Like, most of my Ezekiel outlines in Isaiah, I'm just trying to make sense of the content. This is actually what in the manuscript. So Psalms one through two are the intro Psalms 146 to 150 are the concluding doxologies.

Then you've got five books that have Royal Psalms at the seams and doxologies in the middle of those Royal Psalms. So he noticed some literary features in it. That began his exploration to the message of the Psaltar as a whole. Now a lot of people have taken up this study. For example, there's a guy named Jamie Grant at Aberdeen, who's doing this. One of his students was a guy named Mike McKelvey, who was my first TA at RTS 18 years ago. He's now my Old Testament colleague and teaches this Psalm stuff. There is this book right here that just came out and I'm just reading called The Design of the Psalter, A Macro Structural Analysis So Far, it's a great book. I'm going to read you a quote out of it.

The nice thing about this book is it's got charts in it, in the back, that tell you how they all work in and summarizes them all. So you can actually see the architectural structure of the Psalter book by book. So it's a tremendous work. He did his PhD work under Gordon McConville in Cheltenham. This is the results of all that. So I recommend it to you. Hes got this paragraph in there, I'm going to read the paragraph to you, it says "he's going to call it the Mt. 150". That's his fancy word for the book of Psalms because it's the Masoretic text and it's 150 in there.

I'm going to say the logic of the Psalter, every time he says "Mt. 150". So just know I'm not quoting him exactly. Mt. 150 just sounds too mechanical. "The logic of the Psalter is the reception of the Davidic covenant wrapped in the cloth of Hebrew poetry." That's a great line. "The logic of the Psalter is the reception of the Davidic covenant wrapped in the cloth of Hebrew poetry. The primary light motifs of the Psalter found in the prologue is an interweaved landscape of kingship, Zion and Torah piousness. Book one, traces the establishment of the Davidic covenant and Zion temple. This is followed by a sustained focus on the historical fall of David kingship and Zion in books two to three. A turning point in the meta-narrative occurs in book four with the foregrounding of Yahweh kingship and the appearance of the blameless suffering Davidic ruler. Book five of the Psalter begins with a call for Yahweh to lead His people to an inhabited city.

It highlights the establishment of an ideal Zion that Yahweh builds and triumphs, and the triumphs of the Davidic King and their arrival to that place. The Davidic promises prevail because of Yahweh's covenant faithfulness." So, to summarize, in book one, right, the Davidic covenant and the temple established. In books two and three, they rise and then fall. In book four Yahweh reigns. In book five, Yahweh take your people home. That's how it works out. This is where we get those Psalms of Ascent. See? So it's a cluster of, take me home country boy, country road, take me home country road. John Denver, should have been in the songs of Ascent. So almost heaven West Virginia. Come on, we got into some of those things. I'm also going to read one more quote out of this book. It's not his, and I read it earlier, but it also applies here.

This is in his concluding chapter. I read it earlier because it applied to the macro cannon, but it also applies right here. This is David Noel Freedman in his book, The Unity of the Bible where he does a lot of counting and statistics and says, all divisions of the Bible have about equal amount of words and have keywords in each of them interlinked and dispersed, and not even a believer says, whoever put this together is not a human, that kind of thing. He says, "for me, a primary indicator for larger groupings within the Hebrew Bible is symmetry. Symmetry defined by structures and numbers, usually a simple binary or bilateral kind. When symmetry is established or confirmed by examination" like you're looking at it, scientifically, objectively. "It must be the result of conscious planning and deliberate decisions. Therefore, I contend that the selection, arrangement and organization of the books of the Hebrew Bible, follow from the deliberate and purposeful decisions and actions of an individual or small group of people at a particular time and a particular place thus producing a unified whole."

Now he's talking about that for the whole macro cannon, that big structure I showed you. Peter, is arguin that that also is true for the Psaltar, which is also true, for the days of creation. You know, there's diversity there, but there's a unified hole. So that's actually a lifetime of study and you can really get about it. But the book of Psalms is about the kingship of Yahweh, Davidic line, Zion, and the temple. So it's your home and your king. So that's why there so full of such emotional tension because we're living between the already and the not yet. There's lament, it's even worse for us. We know something better is out there and we were created for something better, but we still live in this world. So how much longer oh Lord? How long oh Lord?

III. Ten Types of Psalms (16:36):

That's the question of Daniel at the end of his life, how long? He says, "go your way and you'll lay down and die and then I'll raise you up". So resurrection express, here we go. There's a lot of different things that I could do and say about the Psalter about all the different themes and all the different stuff. But I know given my time, I can only do like one or two things. So what I wanted to do for you is I wanted to show you the 10 types of Psalms that exist in the Psalter so that you can know the different genres at work and play, teach you three of the forms. Then help you understand how to study and how to use those forms.

A. Overview (17:22):

There are 10 types of Psalms in the book of Psalms. There are lament, thanksgiving, hymns, royal psalms, Zion songs, songs of trust, wisdom songs, salvation history songs, Torah Psalms, and liturgies, which means that's the category we don't know.  I'm going to tell you about each one of those real quick, and then I'll show you which ones they are. Then I will go over three of them with you in the time that we have. The first type is lament. You see up there, the lament is the most numerous type of Psalm with at least 60 in this category. It's the life between promise and fulfillment, both individual and corporate. These Psalms deal with personal suffering, unfulfilled promises and the crisis of God's presence. So if you're ever feeling that way, personal stuff, not if you're ever, when you're ever feeling that way, right?

You go to these Psalms. These are Psalms when it's hitting the fan. That's what these are for, they're Psalms in the midst of suffering, they are controlled by a structure. The first three that we see here are controlled by a structure. You can see I was able to get it into this thing. So by the way, these 10 categories come from Bernard Anderson's book Out of the Depths, it's a book on the Psalms. These little things here are adapted. Doug Stewart, was one of my Old Testament professors, kind of came up with these things, this one is his, this one says these one's I did right there. So I just wanted to give credit to where credits due in those things. So it's kind of a combination of Anderson Stewart and then Little Van Pelt. In his book, he has all these laid out and the little chapters on him.

These have a structure, act sad. So just listen to it. Act sad, address, complaint, trust, salvation, assurance, declarative praise. So when you lament, have you ever been taught to pray like the acts thing, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplicate. It's not biblical, but still good. These are actually biblical. So they're inspired forms. One of the things I do when I'm sad, it's hard to structure your thoughts, I use these. So I call these things constructs for your affections. That way, even though you're sad or you're happy, and don't know how to express yourself, the Bible can help you learn how to express yourself. So I love that about them. The next one is the thanksgiving Psalm. Typically recanting one or more of the saving acts of God.

There are some 16 in this category. There's also Jonah chapter two. You sing these after you lament. Once you've come through the suffering, you look back and you praise God for bringing you through it. You know the store K-mart? Has that ever been around? Some of you may, some of you may not. It was a store. Do you guys know Kmart?


Okay, good. This is the self-centered K-mart. It's IMART, all right. It's way more into our generation right here, IMART. I'm going to go over this with you later, but it's introduction, misery, that is what it was, your appeal, how you're rescued and the testimony, IMART. Introduction, misery, appeal, rescue and testimony. Number three are hymns of praise to God. Typically focusing on the attributes of God and his relationship to his people. These would be very much like your so-called modern worship songs.

When you're saying something very small, but poignant and you say it over and over again. The structure for these is S-R-R or you could do Sr-Sr. Summons to praise, reasons to praise, repeat. Repeat what? Summons to praise, reasons to praise. This is just like when you're driving home and feeling good and you want to worship God, you sing these Psalms. Number four are the enthronement Psalms. These are characterized by content and not structure. So these, you can do anything you want with. The subject is typically a description of Yahweh appearing before His people. Keywords will include throne, rain, enthronement, and sitting. So these are these are the Psalms about Yahweh's kingship or about Davidic kingship. Remember sometimes David's going to be the king. Sometimes Yahweh's going to be the king, but we know in the end, it's the David Yahweh king, the incarnation.

You can think about, eschatology, pre incarnation, and incarnation as they are actually related to these Psalms right here. The Royal Psalms and the Zion Psalms are going to be related. The Royal Psalm is going to focus on the king himself. The Zion song is going to be characterized by longing for Jerusalem God's presence, so the place. Royal Psalms focus on the king. Zion Psalms, focus on the place where the king lives. How lovely is your dwelling place? Oh Lord. Even in Jonah's song of thanksgiving, he knows that he'll return to God's temple. Again, some of these songs, like a thanksgiving song can still have royal elements to it. It's artistic. You begin with a standard and then you play with that standard.

Next would be Psalms of trust. This is a subcategory of lament and it's characterized by the expression of trust in the lament Psalm. So in the lament Psalm address, complaint, trust. Well, let's say you're having a hard time trusting. You go to these Psalms where you can provoke trust at a larger scale. That's the hardest thing to do in the midst of lament is trust that God will take care of it. So they recognize that. They gave you some extra trust and help. It's like when you're working out and you're trying to get a bigger bench press, well, you don't always do bench press to get better at it. You do other stuff, that accessory work. So that's what this is. Accessory work for being trusting of God, that's number seven.

Number eight, wisdom Psalms. The ability to make right choices usually called a maskil. In the superscript you're thinking, okay, what's a maskil. It's from the verbs to call, it means to be wise, prudent or prosper. So if you want to live with skill or worship with skill, consider the maskil. It usually has the X and Y, either X or Y, the way of life, the way of death, the way of wisdom, the way of folly. Then there are salvation history Psalms, or redemptive history Psalms. These focus upon the review of history of God's saving works among his people, especially his deliverance of them from the of Egypt and the creation of his people.

So the excess event plays big in here and the covenants will play big in here. 105 will do rehearse Israel's covenant history and focus on Israel's unfaithfulness. The next one, rehearses Israel's covenant history and focuses on Yahweh's faithfulness in the midst of that. You read them together, they're right next to each other. You compare and contrast them. Israel was unfaithful, but Yahweh was still faithful in the midst to that. So it's helpful to know that they're grouped like that. It's like 78, 105, 106 and a couple more. I'll show you the list in a second. Then there are Torah Psalms, characterized by content and not form. “The Law of Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving light to the eyes”. All that language.

Also, all of Psalm 119 are at that big giant section that is a Torah Psalm. There are three of them, 1, 19, 119. So that's easy to remember. 1, 19, 119 done. You're all Torah'd out. Then there are liturgies, they're a miscellaneous category for those Psalms that were used for worship, but are difficult to classify. Those are the, I don't know, Psalms, okay. You always need an exception to the rule. This is it. Maybe you can study these and fit them into the right category, but Bernard could not. RK Harrison said something interesting about the Psalms that are worth thinking about, he says "The Psalms are unlike any other book, and that usually the Bible contains God's word to us, but the Psalms are meant to be used as our words to Him, but He's given them to us”. It's a very special thing. In fact, he's told you how to praise Him. He's instructed you in that category. The Psalms comprised the divine word spoken in rather than to God's people."

Now, let me just show you in this next slide, you can just see, numerically that the laments are much more common than the other. You've got community ones which includes Lamentations five, individual ones, and then you've got penitential ones. So when there's lamenting, but also lamenting in the context of, I brought this on myself. Then you've got the Thanksgiving Psalms, which are great. You can see one Samuel two, one to 10 is there. They both have community and individual, which is interesting too, because, you know, it expresses both the need for corporate worship and personal private worship.

So the Bible has both those things in there. Then there are the hymns of praise to God. He's the creator, the Redeemer for the Exodus, the ruler over history, all those things. Enthronement Psalms, Royal Psalms, Zion Psalms, trust, wisdom, there they're historical, Torah and liturgies. It's been so helpful for me to have this. This probably will make it in a little booklet maybe or something like that, or the slides will. So, you know, you come back to biblical training. That's the great thing. These resources will not be lost, hopefully, unless the Lord comes and, you know, burns it all up. But at least you'll be able to get back at this. So you don't have to be frantic writing it all down. So what I want to do then is just show you how.

B. Lament (27:15):

I just want to give you an example of the first three, because they really can serve you in terms of how you pray. Do you ever have to in public and you always get scared about it. I do. I have a tremendous fear of public speaking. I don't like to pray in public. I don't like to really preach. I have to really warm up to a crowd to talk to them or to do this. When I get nervous like that, and I have to do it on the spot, I use one of those. Usually, when I get stuck, I do a thanksgiving Psalm when I have to pray. So you can leverage these to pretend, to be way more spiritual than you are.

The first one we’ll do is a lament, act sad. Of course, act sad means address. So call it to God, issue a complaint, “I don't like this”. Or this is a situation, trust, I'm going to trust in you anyway, an account of deliverance, assurance of deliverance, and then praise or declarative praise. Act sad, address, complaint, trust, salvation, assurance, declarative, praise, address, complaint trust. So, here's an example of Psalm three. So, what's great about the superscript is that the superscript tells you what the situation is even. So, when your son wants to overthrow you, okay, my son and I both do CrossFit, he wants to overthrow me every day. So... Okay, here we go, address, "oh Lord", that's all it is. The vocative, you're just crying out, oh Yahweh just begins, Yahweh.

Complaint, complaint. How many are my foes? How many rise up against me? Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him, say law". I have no idea what that means, so... A lot of people say it's emphatic or cause you to pause, but we have no idea just to be honest, truth in advertising. Okay? Trust is the next section. So now you've like said, oh Lord, here's my problem. And you think of it. Those are kind of, those are modest words for what David must be feeling with his son trying to overthrow him at this point. "But you are a shield around me oh Lord. And you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cried aloud. And he answers me from his holy hill." I don't know.

"I lie down and sleep. I will wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side." See that's trust. In the midst of lamenting, right? In the midst of being persecuted, think how David had a lot of experience with this. First, he was pursued and persecuted by Saul. Then by certain enemies. Then by his own son. He's always on the run. Then deliverance, this is your cry out for deliverance. Where it says "Arise, oh Lord, deliver me. Oh my God. Strike all my enemies on the jaw. Break the teeth of the wicked. Assurance, from the Lord comes deliverance. Praise, may your blessing be on your people." So that's a standard lament Psalm. It's actually a shorter one. The nice thing about that one is everything is in order.

Sometimes the Psalmist will change the order. If it's really bad, he'll start with a complaint. You can take the elements and rearrange them to your own particular situation. When you get into these things, like if you do the Anderson's numbers and look at them, don't be surprised. You can see his complaint is really long and his trust is two words. So he is really feeling the despair. There's a lot of variety to it. Some will even leave out the assurance. That's part of it. Silence is part of it. It's declarative praise.

What's the S and the S?

C. Thanksgiving (31:05):

Salvation. It's address, complaint, trust salvation, assurance, declarative praise, thanksgiving Psalm. This is IMART. I'm using Jonah here just for fun. Since we really didn't get to go through the minor prophets very well. It begins with some kind of introduction that we'll talk about. The introduction to the Psalm. Even sometimes the situation that came out of, but this one just has this "from inside the fish, Jonah, prayed to the Lord. His God." That's the introduction to the Psalm. Oh, and this one, the appeal comes before the misery. So just know that. So the form is introduction, account of misery, appeal for help, rescue, testimony.

So this is a good example of where you've got it slightly out of order. So you begin with the appeal "in my distress, I call to the Lord and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and You listened to my cry." Well, what was his misery? Let's see, "You hurled me into the great deep, into the very heart of the seas and the current swirl about me, the waves and the breaker swept over me. I said, I have been banished from your sight. Yet, I will look again towards your holy temple. The engulfing water threatened me. The deep surrounded me. Seaweed was wrapped around my head to the roots of the mountains I sank down, the earth beneath me, barred me forever." This is a little bit of ancient cosmology here. The earth had, under the mountains were roots that served as bars that went down to like the netherworld.

There's talking like, he's going down there, what he's talking about. That's his misery, you know, he's drowning and he's drowning. Rescue, "but you brought my life up from the pit. Oh Lord, my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you Lord. And my prayer rose to you to your holy temple." Okay. That's his, that's his rescue. You brought my life up from the pit. Now, when was this song sung? In the fish. Yeah. So he's considering in the fish his salvation, not the barfing part at the end. Right after this, it says, "and then the fish vomited Jonah on the beach". I will. Then we end with a testimony. So this is what Jonah learned. "Those who clinged to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of Thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you what I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord."

D. Hymn of Praise (33:36):

That's the motto of the book here, your shoe at the [inaudible 00:33:38]. That's the thanksgiving Psalm. So you've got, one is in the midst of crisis, one is after crisis. Then finally the Hymn of praise. Psalm 100, just so you know, that's it right there. It's the backdrop to all my screens. All right. It's the Psalm I make all of my Hebrew students memorize in their third semester of Hebrew. The Psalm I had to memorize in 1990 by John Hartley [inaudible 00:34:03] University. I can still say it today. It's stored in my heart forever. I love having students memorize this and we memorize all kinds of stuff, but that's what it looks like. It begins "Mizmor L'Todah" a song for giving thanks, okay, in Hebrew. Here it is in English.

Now what happens here is you S-R-R is summons, reasons, repeat, repeat what? The summons and the reasons. So the form will be something like this, you could do it like this, S-R-R or you could do S-R-S-R. You could do it like that because this repeating is referring to both those things. So we begin with a summons to praise, it's a very well-known Psalm "shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, worship the Lord with gladness, come before Him with thanksgiving". Why? It is because we know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us. We are His, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. We belong to Him. It's really easy in Hebrew to see when the reason clause starts, because you can see that, that right there, it's a particular word. It heads the section in Hebrew.

So you know exactly what's going on. Then look, we're going to have another summon to praise down here. Here we go, summons to praise, "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name". Why? "For the Lord is good. And His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations." This, that, and that for are the same word in Hebrew, but they're translated differently for contextual reasons. So, that's how it works. Nice and easy. You can do that. You can say, I love the Lord. He's great. He's tremendous. He's wonderful. Why? He redeemed me for my sins because He gave me great parents or because He gave me a dog that I really love, or, you know, or, because I'm going to heaven, or I have His word. All these kinds of things.

VI. Conclusion and Questions (35:58):

You can thank Him for everything. You know, there's nothing you can't thank Him for. You can thank Him for your trials. You can thank Him for the hard things in life. So it's not limited to that. So that’s what I call these, think about that. Now you have three ways to pray to God. Constructs for your affections, when you're suffering, after you suffer, or when you just feel like it's okay right now. I just want to worship God. Like when I'm flying home and I'm done with all these lectures, you can see like how much more I have to do. So it can be hymns of praise like we did it That ends my Psalms survey. So we study them canonically. They're Davidic, they have a really cool structure, you can buy the book and now you know how to pray three of them. Good. Any Questions?

So what do you think about some superscriptions not being authorial, but being more thematic? So for instance in book two and three, you have the united and divided kingdoms and in Psalm 89, we have-

The David song.

We have them going into exile.


And Psalm 90 is a song of Moses. And then the author might be pushing back and saying, Hey, remember the time when the Israelites were in the wilderness and not in the promise land yet, we're in the same area.

A thousand percent.

Okay. But, and so would you say it actually is by Moses or they're just trying to create thematic approach?

It's by Moses.


Yeah. Yeah.

So one or both.

Only because I don't see any monkey business. There are other ways to say about Moses, you know, or mosaic. So, I mean, it's the same argument, the song of songs, when it says the song of songs, which is leShlomo. So it is to, for, or by, it couldn't be for Moses, but it could be, you could say something like in the days of Moses, that's what you had said. So for me, the simplest answer is to take that as legitimately from Moses. We know that they memorized songs and had songs. Deuteronomy 32 is a Psalm that Moses had to write down and they all had to memorize it and it serves as a witness against them. So for years and years and years.