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Psalms for Life

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by , February 13th, 2018 at 06:22 PM (105 Views)
The Psalms can be categorized in many different ways. There are Messianic Psalms, Imprecatory Psalms, Psalms of Assent, etc... But, if we boil them down, we can fit most of them into 3 main categories:

Psalms of Praise: These are happy songs. They are written without consideration for any recent trouble or problems.
Psalms of Lament: These are sad songs. They are written about a recent, or present time of problematic circumstances.
Psalms of Thanksgiving: These are songs that express joy because of deliverance from trouble in the recent past.

Psalms of Praise

Praise Psalms are songs that were written during a relatively trouble-free time. They don't reference any recent, troublesome circumstances, so they represent a time when things are going well, when lives are well ordered.
These Psalms can also be referred to as "Orientation Psalms". They are designed by the Holy Spirit to orient our lives to God, and that orientation can take one of two paths.

Sometimes they recognize God as the Creator. Psalm 104 and Psalm 8 are good examples. They recall the wondrous beauty and the majestic glory of the creation. By celebrating the Creator, praise psalms draw our attention to the orderliness of creation.

When we celebrate God's creation, along with the Psalmist, we celebrate the goodness of God we are experiencing in life.

Sometimes Praise Psalms recognize God as Redeemer. Typically, these are the big picture acts of redemption in the history of Israel, rather than what God has done in our own personal history. Psalm 105 is an example. It recounts the Exodus, how Yahweh redeemed His people out of Egypt.

So by celebrating God’s redemptive work in the distant past, we celebrate the faithfulness and reliability of God as the foundation of the good life we are experiencing now.

A Few of the Psalms of Praise for study: Psalms 8, 33, 100, 104, 105, 145, 149, 150

Psalms of Lament

Since we do not always experience life as ‘well ordered’, there are songs written for these times as well. Psalms of Lament may also be called Psalms of 'Disorientation'. They are meant to guide us through the troublesome times, inviting us to 'say what we feel' to the Lord, 'express our desires' to Him and 'trust' in His goodness. These are the times when we may feel confused, abandoned, fearful, angry or lost in despair.

It is through these types of Psalms that we can cry out with the Psalmist:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?”
(Psalm 13:1-2)

We are also invited to make our requests known to Him:

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I die
(Psalm 13:3).

The Psalms of Lament are the psalms composed for what some call the ‘dark night of the soul, for times when ‘weeping may go on all night (Ps. 30:5), or perhaps ‘night after night after night” (Ps. 6:6). They give us permission to – and show us how to – allow the tears and feelings flow.

With the exception of Psalms 44 and 88, all of the Laments end on a positive note. They either express a statement of trust in the Lord, a deep assurance that He will answer prayer or a promise to give thanks to God for answered prayer.

A few Psalms of Lament for study: Psalms 3, 13, 25, 38, 44, 63, 88, 140, 143

Psalms of Thanksgiving

Though the weeping may go on all night as psalm 30 indicates, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The Psalm of Thanksgiving is the sequel to the Lament and may be labeled as Psalms of reorientation. The time eventually comes when we look back at the troublesome days and are able to say to God:

you have turned by mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy (Psalm 30:11).

Like the Psalms of Praise, Psalms of Thanksgiving celebrate God’s redemptive work. These however, celebrate God’s redemptive work in our own personal history, allowing us to express joy and gratitude to God for that deliverance.

They are written to thank God for lifting us “out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire’ and for setting our “feet on solid ground” once again (Psalm 40:2), for eliminating the chaos and reestablishing good order in your life.

Far from being an ancient song book that has little bearing on our lives today, the Psalms are very much relevant to us now. Through the praise psalms, our lives are oriented to the Creator and Redeemer, giving us a firm foundation of steadfastness and reliability. As life becomes chaotic and disoriented, the Laments guide us through the dark days, keeping our focus on the the God who is above all our circumstances, yet is personal and always near. Finally, the Psalms of Thanksgiving are there for us when we emerge from our trials and can look back with joy and gratitude, reorienting our lives to the Creator and Redeemer of our souls.

The ebb and flow of life – Orientation, disorientation and reorientation; that is the book of the Psalms.

A few Psalms of Thanksgiving for study: Psalms 18 34, 66, 92, 118, 124, 138

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