The Psalms have a popularity and extended relevancy not enjoyed by other parts of Scripture. In the Psalms, God’s people speak and God responds. The language is interpersonal rather than the 3rd-person narrative or 2nd-person instructive. In the Psalms, we discover the human voice in dialogue with God. The Psalms follow the patterns of the mind and heart as we consider who God is and who we are in the present context.
This is where we are going throughout this summer as we journey through Psalms. Before we dive in, there are some hacks that help us better read and comprehend the psalms.
Types of Psalms
Hymn – they are songs of joy, intended for occasions when life is going well. The writer and those who sing it are happy with God, their fellow worshippers, and themselves. They are known as “psalms of orientation”.
Lament – These are songs of disorientation sung by those in distress like Psalm 143. They complain about their circumstances in specific situations, but their themes can be borrowed by future readers.
Wisdom – Psalms that share the language, concepts, and concerns of wisdom literature. They offer wisdom and apply it to various situations.
Royal (often messianic) – Psalms that declare God as king or has the human king as the speaker. This type is an overlapping category.
Literary Structures in the Psalms
Poetry - the Psalms are poetic and designed to express the inexpressible.
Imagery – figurative language created by comparison, metaphor, and simile
Terseness – communicating the message using as few words as possible.Wisdom – Psalms that share the language, concepts, and concerns of wisdom literature. They offer wisdom and apply it to various situations.
Parallelism – the first line communicates a thought and the second line intensifies, specifies, or sharpens the thought of the first line. This is why you see indentations. Think of it with this pattern, "A, and what's more B."