Let's Read the Psalms!

Psalm 147-150

Psalm 147-150

We wrap up the psalms with four “Halleluiah” psalms.  They are all praise songs to the God of grace.  Psalm 147 has special emphasis on Creation – look at v.4 and see once again how God claims to be the one who created this universe, so he knows how many stars there are.  Think about it:  if we think we humans have come a long way, there is no way we will ever be able to number the stars – we can’t even number the galaxies! – but the Creator can.  He knows how many there are.  V.9 reminds me of Psalm 145:15-16.  And this song ends with a reminder of God revealing his saving word to us.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful for, a lot of reasons to praise our Savior-God.

Psalm 148 calls for all of God’s creation to give him praise.  V.14 reminds us of Romans 11:26 where the word “Israel” is used to refer to God’s elect – that is, all believers – not to the ethnic group we call the Jews. The word “Israel” is used that way many times in the Old Testament and several times in the New Testament.

Psalm 149, another song of praise, reminds us to sing a new song to the Lord. That’s why we constantly – in every generation – create new songs that give glory to our God. He is worthy of our creativity, our effort, our time, our praise.

Psalm 150 wraps it up. This psalm possibly was composed to be the conclusion of the book of psalms. Look at the description of different instruments. I remember the days when guitars and drums were frowned upon as instruments in worship. But they are tools that God loves to hear music from that glorifies his name and his works.  I wonder if whoever taught me that had ever read Psalm 150?

 

Thanks for reading along.  If you read all the psalms you have finished the book with the most chapters (actually each psalm is its own song…but we can call them chapters).  We’ll do another year-long reading starting next September again.  Give me a suggestion if you have something in mind.

 

 



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Psalm 144-146

Psalm 144 is a song of David that appears to be from the high point of his kingdom. He thanks the Lord for his victories and he asks God to bless the nation. This psalm is quite similar to Psalm 18.  Verses 1-11 are a prayer for (military) victory and v.12-15 are the results of the victory. Notice the “new song” that David promises to sing;  our God is worthy of our ongoing efforts to make new music and compose new songs to glorify him.  And mark the concluding verse (15):  God promises to bless his people.  When we trust in the true Savior-God (Jesus) we have nothing to worry about.

Psalm 145 is a song of praise.  If you read carefully, you will see that it’s a pattern of praise then proclamation (v.1 = praise,  v.3 = proclamation of his greatness, v.4 = praise, v.8 = proclamation of his grace,  v.10 = praise,  v.13 = Proclamation of his kingdom,  v.21 = praise).

V.15-16 are a beautiful meal prayer.  And v.20 might be a highlight verse:  the clear distinction of how God treats believers and unbelievers differently.

Psalm 146 is the first of 5 Halleluiah psalms that close the book of Psalms. It’s a song of praise but also an exhortation to trust in the Lord, Zion’s King. Notice v.6 is just another of the many (hundreds?!) of verses in the Bible that ascribe the creation of this world to the God of grace, the Triune God.  Thus Creation is mentioned not just in Genesis 1 & 2 but all throughout the pages of both Old and New Testaments.



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Psalm 140-143

Psalm 140 is a prayer for deliverance from the plots and slander of unscrupulous people who oppose God’s children.  However, when you read v.3, think of John the Baptist’s words, “You brood of vipers!” and realize that by nature we approached God as offspring of the ancient Serpent.  But after Jesus declared us innocent, or, righteous, we now praise his name (v.13).

Psalm 141 is another prayer for deliverance, but many of you might remember the first two verses as part of an old worship liturgy. Our prayers to God are like incense – they go up and from God’s perspective they smell nice. Notice also the prayer in v.3 and 4, a prayer that we all do well to pray.

Psalm 142 is another of David’s prayers of deliverance. Today we, too, call out to the Lord – Jesus – in any and every time that we need help. And again, when he answers our prayer, which he always does, then we will praise his name (v. 7).

Psalm 143 is the seventh and final of the penitential psalms, as David leads us in a confession of sins. V.5 reminds us that we meditate on all God’s works – that’s really what we do in worship isn’t it? And verse 8 – wouldn’t the best first task in the morning be reading your Bible or your devotion for the day?  And if you think they didn’t know about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, check out v.10.



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Psalm 135-139

Psalm 135 is a call to praise the Lord, the controller of this world and the one who brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

Psalm 136 is a unique song with a common refrain after each line.  Try reading this as a family – one person reads the verses and then the whole family speaks that refrain.  When you’re done, you won’t have to teach them “His love endures forever.”

Psalm 137 is a sad song about the exile in Babylon.  God’s people were heartbroken and couldn’t bring themselves to sing the songs they loved –- they even hung their harps on the poplar trees.  All the while they endured the ridicule of the Babylonians. We’re grateful not only that God brought them back from Babylon (so that the Savior would be born right where God had predicted) but that he brings us up out of our sad times (see Psalm 103:4).

Psalm 138 is royal psalm of praise.  It’s actually the first of 8 consecutive psalms of David – the middle six are prayers, while the first and last (Psalm 138 and 145) are songs of praise.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful prayer that covers a variety of things.  Notice God’s omniscience in v.1-4;  God’s omnipresence in v. 7-10;  God’s creation of us and care in our life in v.13-16;  a beautiful prayer asking God to lead us through this life to life eternal in v.24.



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Psalms 128-134

Psalm 128 really goes with Psalm 127;  it’s a song about family and the blessings of children. Notice the beautiful benediction in v.5 and 6.

Psalm 129 is a prayer for God to respond to the enemies of God’s people. The description could fit the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians. A similar description of Jesus’ oppressors is found in Isaiah 50:6, “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;  I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.”  One day, all who oppose Jesus and what he and his followers are all about will be uprooted like weeds (v.6).

Psalm 130 is one to mark.  It’s the sixth of the seven penitential (confessional) psalm and it has beautiful good news: with the Lord there is forgiveness! And in that Lord we put our hope.

Psalm 131 is a short, simple song of humble trust.

Psalm 132 connects the psalms of ascent with the Messianic promise.  David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord said “no” and that he would be a greater house for David.  David’s son Solomon would build a temple, the house of the Lord, but through Jesus, a later descendant of David, the Lord would build a greater house of David, the kingdom of Christ, the church. The two parts of the psalm (v.1-10 and then 11-18) are based on David’s promise to the Lord and the Lord’s greater promise to David.

Psalm 133 is a short psalm about unity with our brothers and sisters in Jesus.  The last verse shows it’s in the context of God’s church because he blesses us with life forevermore.

Psalm 134 is the last of the psalms of ascent and focuses on those who served at the temple. They are blessed as the message they share/explain/teach is first and foremost God’s message to them.

 

 

 



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Psalms 120-127

Psalm 120-127

We’re in the psalms of ascent this week. These were psalms sung on the way to Jerusalem or at the temple as they went up the steps. Psalm 120 is a simple prayer for the Lord to rescue his people.  Psalm 121 is the help psalm, filled with familiar and comforting words. 

Psalm 122 is a prayer for Jerusalem, asking God to bless this city and bring it peace would bring blessings to God’s people.  How often do we pray for our city or country – an election year would be a perfect time.

Psalm 123 is a short psalm asking God for his mercy.  Psalm 124 is one that reminds us of God’s help. Psalm 125 is similar to Psalm 122, asking God to bless Jerusalem.

Psalm 126 is a psalm for joy as the Lord brought back to Jerusalem captives from Babylon.  And Psalm 127 is a psalm of Solomon about the blessings of family.



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Psalms 118-119

Psalm 118-119

Hope everyone got caught up this last week.  We’ve got just two psalms this week.

Psalm 118 is a song of thanks that is bookended, where the first verse matches the last verse.  I read somewhere that this was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm (although Psalm 46 usually is considered his favorite).  Verse 6 is a great verse – one to put somewhere that you can see it as a practical reminder of how we need not be afraid of anything in life.  In v.7 God is called a “helper”, the same word given to Eve in Genesis 2 – just a reminder that being called a “helper” is in no way a negative thing.

Verse 18 is a great reminder that even though God allows things to happen in our life, he never turns his back on us.  Verses 22 & 23 are quoted three times in the New Testament, as Jesus is our “Rock” who was rejected, yet became the source and foundation of his church.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, 176 verses.  If you look carefully when you read it, every verse has a reference to God’s Word (laws, promises, precepts, statutes, commands, word, decrees, etc.)………..EXCEPT about three verses.  Can you find them?

 



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Psalm 111-117

Psalm 111 is a beautiful, short song of praise. V.4,5,9 are familiar themes that we hear often in the psalms. And it ends with v.10 and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” How true!

Psalm 112 is a eulogy of a godly person. God promises to bless and take care of his people.  Then see the sharp contrast in v.10.

Psalm 113 starts the “Egyptian Hallel,” which was six psalms (113-118) that were used regularly at big festivals at the temple.  So, for example, Jesus on the night he instituted Holy Communion sang those psalms with his disciples before he went out to the Mount of Olives (“…..after they had sung a hymn….”).

Psalm 114 recalls the exodus from Egypt, a short little psalm that told a big story.  Makes perfect sense that they would sing this on Passover.

Psalm 115 is a praise psalm for God’s love and faithfulness to his people. The first verse will remind you of our hymn “Not Unto Us.”  You might want to highlight v. 3. And read v.16 carefully…especially if you’ve ever wondered if there is life on other planets. That verse says, “No.”

Psalm 116 reminds us how God delivers us from death. Notice at the end there’s encouragement for God’s people to worship him and bring him offerings.

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm.



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Psalm 107-110

Ever wonder who started the meal prayer, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord….”?  It’s from the first two verses of Psalm 107. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say this” is the encouragement for all of God’s people.  And so, at some point, someone said, “Yeah, we should really say that!” and we’ve been saying it ever since.

This psalm is a beautiful call to thank our gracious God.  V.3 is really the answer to the prayer in Psalm 106:47. Notice v.8,15,21, & 31 are identical – each one concludes a stanza of the psalm.

Psalm 108 is a short song of praise for God’s love and is derived from the conclusions of Psalm 57 and Psalm 60.

Psalm 109 is one of the “imprecatory psalms,” that is, psalms that include harsh curses on God’s enemies (and the enemies of the psalm composers). We see the Messiah speak such a prayer in Psalm 69 and the believers in heaven saying the same thing in Revelation 6:10. As harsh as they are, these curses rest on biblical principles. For example, the curse on the liar’s family reminds us of God promising that he is “a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5).  Those who continue in the sinful ways of their parents or ancestors will share in their condemnation.

In Acts 1:20 Peter refers to Psalm 109:8 as describing Judas. Thus the friend who betrayed David was a pre-figurement (or, “type”) of Judas.

Psalm 110 is one of the most important Messianic psalms, referring to Jesus as both a king (ruling and sitting at God’s right hand) and priest, who is eternal and like Melchizedek (see John 12:34 and Hebrews 7).

So your Savior is totally in control of your life and is constantly interceding to God the Father on your behalf!

 



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Psalm 104-106

Psalm 104-106

Psalm 104 is the “Creation Psalm.”  It’s a song of praise to God that walks us through Genesis 1, the six days of Creation:  v.2a is Day 1,  v.2b-4 is Day 2, v.5-18 is Day 3,  v.19-23 is Day 4, v .24-30 is Day 5 & 6.    Notice the three staples for the Israelites in v.15:  grapes, olives, and wheat.  Also compare v.27 with Psalm 145:15-16 (the prayer “The eyes of all….”).

 

Psalm 105 is an invitation to worship the Lord and trust him because of his faithfulness.  From v.27-36 the writer summarizes the ten plagues in Egypt.  Then notice v.42 and the reminder about God remembering his promise to Abraham. And it ends with v.45 with a reminder for all of us about why God shows his faithfulness and kindness to us….so that we follow his laws and obey him with a grateful heart.

By the way, if you ever learned that Noah’s three sons’ (Shem, Ham and Japheth) spread out and that Europeans are descended from Japheth while Asians and people of the Middle East are descended from Shem (we get the word semitic from Shem’s name) and that people from the continent of Africa are descended from Ham…..look at v.23 and 27 for the proof. In fact, one of the sons of Ham was Mizraim, the Hebrew word for Egypt (see Genesis 10:6).

Psalm 106 is the fifth of the penitential psalms.  It recalls much of Israel’s history with an emphasis on their unfaithfulness, yet God remained faithful.  This psalm really complements Psalm 105—Psalm 105 being more on the positive side while Psalm 106 is more on the negative side.  Many words are similar to David’s psalm when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 16).

Notice the final verse of Psalm 106 – now you know where we get our Immanuel custom of “Let all God’s people say….Amen” from.



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