Psalms

The Wise Lament: Psalm 14 & 53

Children instinctively know the value of repetition. Have you been within earshot recently of a three-year-old ‘s relentless pleading to get her parents’ attention? Begging, crying, wailing grate on the sensibilities, till the parent’s radar eventually zeroes in on the persistent voice. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 1

Singing the Psalms in the Right Key: Torah, God, God’s Anointed, a Final Amen: Psalms 1, 2, 33, 150

The book of Psalms is arguably one of the most favored parts of the Bible. Christians to whom the Old Testament might seem distant, perplexing, or forbidding nevertheless cherish the Psalms. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 2

Utterly Human, Amazingly Human: From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary: Psalms 8, 33, 144

Psalm 8 — a Davidic psalm — begins and ends with a refrain that accents the majestic name of YHWH in all the earth. Indeed, God’s name is perforce majestic because God’s very being is glorious. The name matches the glory. Glory of this sort is, inexplicably and mysteriously, chanted by those not yet able to speak: nursing babies. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 3

Creation, Revelation, Salvation: Psalms 18, 19, 20

At first blush it seems odd to combine these three psalms, notwithstanding their consecutive order in the Psalter. According to standard typology, Psalm 18 is a royal thanksgiving, Psalm 19 is a hymn extolling God as creator and giver of the law (Torah), and Psalm 20 is a prayer asking God to make the king victorious. Yet a closer look reveals that these three psalms may indeed be considered together. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 4

Divine Absence and Presence: Terrifying, Comforting, or Both? Psalms 22; 23; 24; 139

Almost intuitively, when one thinks of the book of Psalms one thinks of Scripture that comforts, encourages, and strengthens. Though the Old Testament God is sometimes thought of as remote, if not forbidding, somehow Psalms does not match this negative stereotype. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 5

Confession, Repentance, Absolution: Getting Right with God: Psalms 25; 32; 36; 38; 51

Psalms that treat the topics of sin, confession, repentance, and forgiveness have at least one thing in common: They are all rooted in the radical grace of God. Such psalms are instructive for Christians, especially in light of erroneous and uninformed views about confession, repentance, and forgiveness in the Old Testament. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 6

Reciting, Singing, and Ritualizing God’s Story: Psalms 78 and 136

The Christian Bible in general and the Old Testament in particular are dominated by narrative. In fact, the narrative part of Scripture is foundational in that it contains the story describing the self-disclosure of God through the elect community Israel and in Israel’s messiah/Christ: Jesus of Nazareth, the Risen and Exalted Lord. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 7

Out of the Depths, Onto the Heights: Psalms 79, 80, 81

Psalms 79 and 80 are communal laments, whereas Psalm 81 is a glorious psalm of worship. All three psalms are connected to Asaph, about whom little is known except that he, or at least his family, is involved in priestly and liturgical ministry. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 8

At Risk With God, Challenging God, Safe With God: Psalms 85, 89, 90, 91

The first three of this week’s psalms all have a different title. Psalm 85 is a psalm of the sons of Korah, Psalm 89 identifies Ethan the Ezrahite in its title, and Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, the man of God. The fourth, Psalm 91, is untitled Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 9

The Lord Reigns: Psalms 47, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99

These eight psalms all deal with the idea of God’s kingship. As we consider this collection, it is instructive to recall the importance of the kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven (as it is referred to in Matthew’s Gospel), in the New Testament. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 10

Bless the Lord, O My Soul: Psalms 103, 104, 105, 106

These four psalms — one titled (103: “Of David”), three untitled (104; 105; 106) — are soaring hymns of praise. Psalm 103 calls for praising God in the context of God’s graciousness and the forgiveness of sin. Psalm 104 lauds God for God’s having created everything that is. And Psalms 105 and 106 exalt God in the context of the magnalia dei — the mighty acts of God — on behalf of Israel, God’s elect people. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 11

God’s Law: Burden or Delight?: Psalm 119

This untitled psalm is arguably the most unusual one in the Psalter. Its length (176 verses) dwarfs the other psalms; no other psalm comes close. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 12

“Going Up (to the Temple)”: What Shall We Sing on the Way? Psalms 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 130, 132

This complex of psalms belongs to a group called “Psalms of Ascent.” Occasionally, they have the additional designation “of David” or “of Solomon” , Going up is a pregnant phrase in the Old Testament. Full reading and audio »


Psalms Week 13

Praise the Lord: The Psalter’s “Amen”: Psalms 145, 146, 147, 148, 149

We noted in the very first installment of this Lectio on the Psalms that the final psalm, Psalm 150, ended on a note of praise and functioned as a final title to the whole Psalter. Full reading and audio »