4. Introduction to the Psalms # 1

At the same time as I was beginning my deeper journey into the Psalms, good friends of ours were facing an extremely difficult time of loss in their lives.  We endeavoured to bring some small comfort and pray for them. But words don’t come easy in such situations, either to one’s friend or even to God.

It was during this time that I read these words:

“Psalms [are] profoundly Jewish [in] character…the psalms of negativity, the complaints of various kinds, the cries for vengeance and profound penitence are foundational to a life of faith in…God. Much Christian piety and spirituality is romantic and unreal in its positiveness. As children of the Enlightenment, we have censored and selected around the voice of darkness and disorientation, seeking to go from strength to strength, from victory to victory. But such a way not only ignores the Psalms; it is a lie in terms of our experience…Psalms as a canonical book is finally an act of hope. But the hope is rooted precisely in the midst of loss and darkness, where God is surprisingly present. The Jewish reality of exile, the Christian confession of crucifixion and cross, the honest recognition that there is an untamed darkness in our life that must be embraced – all of that is fundamental to the gift of new life.

The Psalms are profoundly subversive of the dominant culture, which wants to deny and cover over the darkness we are called to enter. Personally we shun negativity. Publicly we deny the failure of our attempts to exercise control…Against all of this the Psalms issue a mighty protest and invite us into a more honest facing of the darkness. The reason the darkness may be faced and lived in is that even in the darkness, there is One to address…”   (‘The Message of the Psalms – A Theological Commentary’ by Walter Brueggemann – Augsburg Publishing House)

The Psalms, so I am discovering, give us the language to not only praise and worship our great God, but also to talk to Him about difficult times in our lives and in the lives of others.

Eugene Peterson in his introduction to Psalms in the Message Bible says that “The Hebrews…provided us with this prayer book that gives us a language adequate for responding to the God who speaks to us.”  (‘The Message – The Bible in Contemporary Language’ by Eugene H Peterson – NavPress)


3. Sons of Korah

I seem to recall that one of the first things I did, other than begin to read the Psalms and some good books on the Psalms, was to check out the group called Sons of Korah. I had heard of them before but never really listened to their music, which is all based on the Psalms. I now  enjoy their music and have been to a couple of their concerts. Very inspiring! Check out their website at sonsofkorah.com  or listen to Psalm 1 at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfxT8fZi5qA

2. Photo

The photo below was taken recently when I was visiting Morisset in NSW. It is of the trees surrounding Dora Creek and reminded me of the words of Psalm 1. “Blessed is the person who obeys the law of the Lord…that kind of person is like a tree planted before a stream of water . It always bears its fruit at the right time…” (1:1,3 NIRV)cropped-tree-psalm-1.jpg

1. The beginnings & references

On 13th January 2012 I wrote in my journal, “I wondered about studying Psalms for a while and even preaching on some of them.” I had previously been studying the life of David and had preached quite a few sermons on him. Studying the Psalms seemed the obvious thing to do after this. So, I began and “for a while” has so far been over 3 years and still wondering if I have even scratched the surface of this amazing book. What follows are some of the things I have discovered and been blessed with over these 3 + years.

Below is the list of books/articles/websites  I have quoted from.

1. Tremper Longman 111 How to Read the Psalms Intervarsity Press 1988
2. Walter Brueggemann The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary Ausberg Publishing House 1984
3. Walter Brueggemann Israel’s Praise. Doxology against Idolatry and Ideology Fortress Press 1988
4. Craig C Broyles New International Biblical Commentary – Psalms Hendrickson Publishers 1999
5. Michael Wilcock The Message of the Psalms Intervarsity Press 2001
6. C.S. Lewis Reflections on the Psalms Fontana Books 1958
7. The Jewish Study Bible Tanakh Translation Oxford University Press 2004
8. Matthew Jacoby Deeper Places – Experiencing God in the Psalms Baker Books 2013
9. James W Sire Learning to Pray Through the Psalms Intervarsity Press 2005
10. C. Hassell Bullock An Introduction to the Old Testament – Poetic Books Moody Publishers 1979, 1988.
11. Charles R. Swindoll Living Beyond the Daily Grind – Reflections on the Songs and Sayings in Scripture Word Publishing 1988.
12. Claus Westermann Praise and Lament in the Psalms Bookcrafters Inc. 1965
13. David J Cohen Why O Lord – Praying our Sorrows Paternoster 2013
14. Kathryn Green-McCreight Darkness is My Only Companion. A Christian Response to Mental Illness Brazos Press 2006
15. Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job – How the Oldest Book in the Bible Answers Today’s Scientific Questions Baker, 2011
16. John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions Baker Academic 1993, 2005
17. James G Murphy Psalms James Family Publishing 1876, 1977. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       18. Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care  Spring 2012, Volume 5, Number 1 edition, Published by the Institute of Spiritual Formation, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, 2012. 

19.  David Bentley Hart The Experience of God  Yale University Press 2013 

20. AW Tozer The Knowledge of the Holy  Authentic Media 2008


21.  Paul Bradbury Sowing in Tears. How to Lament in a church of Praise Grove Books Limited 2007 

22  Mark Buchanan in Leadership Journal by Christianity Today International. Fall 2011

23. quoted by Rev. Angus Stewart in his article “John Calvin on the Wonder of the Psalms” at http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/johncalvinpsalms.htm#.VbiXbDow_IU

24.  Dr Larry Crabb The Silence of Adam – Becoming Men of Courage in a World of Chaos Zondervan 1995

25.  N.T. Wright The Case for the Psalms – Why They Are Essential HarperOne 2013


26. D Martyn Lloyd-Jones Faith on Trial – Studies in Psalm 73 Inter-Varsity Press 1965

27.  Artur Weiser The Psalms SCM Press 1962

28. C.H. Spurgeon The Treasury of David Evangelical press 1978 (second edition)

29   Derek Kidner Tyndale OT Commentaries, Psalms Intervarsity Press 1973

30.  Tremper Longman lll Tyndale OT Commentaries, Psalms Intervarsity Press 2014

31.  Wayne Cordeiro Leading on Empty Bethany House Publishers 2009

32.  Charles R. Swindoll, Living Beyond the Daily Grind W. Publishing Group 1989

33. Brennan Manning The Signature of Jesus Crown Publishing Group 2011

34. Nik Ripken The Insanity of GodA True Story of Faith Resurrected  B & H Publishing Group 2011

35. Lisa Stilwell The Heavens Proclaim His Glory Thomas Nelson Inc. 2010

36. Phil Moore Straight to the Heart of Psalms Monarch Books 2013

37.  EM Blaiklock Commentary on the Psalms Volume 1 Psalms for Living Psalms 1-72 Scripture Union 1977

38. Theodore Williams God Alive – Studies on Psalms Outreach Publications 1992

39. Walter Brueggemann, William H Bellinger Jr Psalms Cambridge University Press 2014

40. B. Rhodes Psalms SCM Press 1980

41. W.G. Scroggie Psalms Pickering & Inglis 1965

42  A. Anderson The New Century Bible Commentary – Psalms Marshall, Morgan and Scott  1981

43  H.C. Leupold Exposition of Psalms Evangelical Press 1974