How to Study the Bible (Poetry and Psalms)


How to Study the Psalms – audio.mp3

1) Poetry is not sissy.

There are many misconceptions about about Poetry. Some people think that poetry is only for wimps. Girls and weak men. Who would sit around and come up with beautiful prose?

Two responses:

  • First, David was a man’s man. He took down a giant with a singe stop. He fought bears. Any of you guys done this? He was a king who lead armies into battle. The people he hung out with jumped into pits on snowy days and speared lions. (1 Chronicles 11:22-24) He was not just a man, he was a man after God’s own heart. He was in love with God and the things of God.
  • Second, the Psalms are chock full of theology. Ephesians 4:7-8 quotes Psalm 68 about God being a Divine Warrior. In Acts 2:22-36, Peter stands up after the Holy Spirit descended. Fire is above their heads, they are speaking in strange languages, crowds by the thousands are gathered and it is a big moment. He delivers a monumental speech that will be recorded for all eternity. Twice in this speech he quotes the Psalms. He quotes Psalm 16 and Psalm 110 – theology about the Resurrection of the body and the Trinity is found in these Psalms.
  • The Psalms teach us doctrine. They teach us deep biblical truths.

2) Poetry is not pointless.

  • Psalm 22; 110

We have a low view of poetry. “Roses are red, violets are blue, I like cream cheese, how about you.” Pointless and fruitless. But this is not the case with Scripture. Poetry is sweet to the soul and catchy to the mind. Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters for his name sake, and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. This is glorious! This has a point! This is eternally significant.

  • The Psalms teach us about Jesus

Psalm 110 was penned years before Jesus was born. Tucked away in this Psalm from the very first verse is a message about Christ. Jesus quotes this in Matthew 22:44 and the author of Hebrews quotes this Psalm in Hebrews 7:11-28. Jesus is called a priest forever according to a different order than the Levitical priests. Hebrews tells us this is because Jesus continually lives to intercede for us and could not die! Psalm 110:5-7 refers to when Christ returns to judge the earth. These are massive truths about the Messiah that are laced in prose. Poetry is not pointless.

3) Poetry is not optional.

The Psalms are raw and vivid. The Psalms are not sterile. They are not safe. They are not confined. They reveal the messy of life and beauty of Christ.

  • The Psalms teach us about ourselves. They teach us how to properly express our emotions.

If you are experiencing an emotion or difficulty in life, I guarantee you that you can find help in the Psalms. I will bet my life on it. No matter what emotional trial you go through, I guarantee you can find a glimmer of light from the Psalms.

  • When you encounter suffering, how should you respond? When you begin to doubt God, how should you respond? When you feel lonely and rejected at school, what should you do? The Psalms offer guidance.

Consider how Psalm 6 teaches us to express our emotions.

  • Verse 3 is honest.
  • Verse 4 is a humble plea.
  • Verse 5 is appealing to God.
  • Verse 6 is honest about the trial.
  • Verse 9 is confident faith in God.

This Psalm demonstrates how to properly express angst to God. Controlled, humble, honest, pleading, confident. Not yelling at God or blaming him. Rather, this Psalm shows how to humbly come to him in life’s trials and make raw requests in faith.

4) Poetry is  practical.

Perhaps you are not experiencing turmoil or darkness in your Christian life. Perhaps things are rosy and you are more in love with God than ever. The Psalms are for you as well! There are bright Psalms for these occasions. But do not overlook the Psalms to be practical and helpful for those around you. Perhaps your friends are experiencing pain and darkness. You can lead them to the Psalms for guidance and life in Christ.

Consider the following three Psalms and the issues they address. Each Psalm  can address a particular issue that someone may be going through. A good exercise is to spend time reading and mediating on these Psalms and dealing with the issues they address.

  • Anger (Psalm 2) – If you are boiling with anger, verse 12 can calm you down.
  • Fear (Psalm 3) – If you are having trouble sleeping at night, verse 5 can sooth you.
  • Temptation (Psalm 4)  – If you are being tempted by the world, verse 7 can satisfy you.

Three Categories of Psalms:

1. Dark Psalms

            – Suffering (55; 56; 59)

            – Sadness (42; 43; 44)

            – Sin & Repentance (32; 38; 39; 41; 51)

2. Bright Psalms

            – Praise (47; 103; 148; 149; 150)

            – Beauty of God (29; 72; 75; 76; 93)

            – Joy & Satisfaction (23; 27; 63; 84)

3. Clear Psalms (Psalms that bring clarity to life)

            – Wisdom (1; 52; 119)

            – Justice (58; 64; 82; 83)

Small Group Discussion Questions:

1.       Which of the four misconceptions of poetry did you have before tonight?

2.       Have you ever experienced anger towards God? If so, why?

3.       Have you ever experienced sadness? If so, how did you express it to God?

4.       Which area (anger, fear, temptation) are you dealing with currently in life?


One thought on “How to Study the Bible (Poetry and Psalms)

  1. Pingback: How to Study the Bible « Unspoken

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