The Book of Psalms: the hymnal of the early church and the Jews. There are many different types of psalms within this genre of poetry or wisdom writing. What theological truths can we gleam from them? We will not be discussing the truths here, but let me say this, there is plenty of theological truths of God and of man throughout the Psalms and other wisdom writings.
Several years ago I met a young man who animately argued against this point. There are many various genres of writing in the Scriptures–stories, laws, prophecies, wisdom poetry, epistles, and apocalyptic. But why do they need to be exclusive? The answer is simple: they are not meant to be stand alone, but are part of the meta-narrative (e.g.: the big picture) of God’s story.
What do the psalms tell us? What truths do they reveal that other parts of the Bible do not? Dr George Guthrie uses the metaphor of a security camera in a store. The camera captures the facts of what happened, but it leaves out the motives and the emotions of the people. The stories of the Old Testament tell what happened from a second or third person point of view. The psalms, on the other hand, use first person perspective and say it as it is.
The psalmists wear their hearts on their sleeves. They petition God (Ps 51) and lament over their lot in life (Ps 10). They aren’t afraid to tell God “Life isn’t fair”. While other psalms praise God for who He is (Ps 48) and they thank Him for what He has done (Ps 9), is doing and will do.
Expressing one’s self is generally not a common practice. Poets and song writers do, but why are we not doing this in churches? In praise and worship songs? Many of the psalms are figurative expressions in response to experiences God’s people had over the years. How can we use this in our personal lives and in the church worship?
Reading the Book of Psalms can help us express our thoughts, reflect on experiences and go deeper in our way of thinking about God. The psalmists can relate to our turmoils in life and the joys as well. As you read the Psalms ask yourself: What is this telling me about God? What is it saying about human nature?