Set 9: The Psalms and Proverbs

The Psalms and Proverbs had multiple writers but were largely aligned with the times of the kings of Israel (with a few exceptions). David is the most prolific writer of psalms. The Psalms were used as hymns in Hebrew worship, and they focus on the main theological themes of the Old Testament: Monotheism (one almighty God), the sins of humanity and God's grace, God's covenantal love, the response of people to God's covenant, and prophecies regarding the Messiah. Solomon, David's son, is the main writer of Proverbs. Many of the proverbs are related to practical action and attitudes related to wisdom and foolishness. Still, God is recognized as sovereign King and Creator. Because of their use in worship and daily living, the Psalms and Proverbs were both well-known and well-recognized when referenced by Jesus and others in the New Testament.

Message from Sunday, November 5th

Types of Writing: Psalms is a mixture of poetry and prayers. Proverbs largely features "discourse" (lengthy conversation on a particular topic) and couplets of ideas regarding wisdom.
Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry: Parallelism (a balance of two connected thoughts) is a one of the most common poetic tools in Hebrew poetry, and thankfully it translates well across many languages! Three types of parallelism are listed below (some scholars split these further):
1. Synonymous - the first and second line contain similar thoughts, where the second line restates the idea or emphasizes the emotions
Example: "In the path of righteousness is life,
    and in its pathway there is no death." - Proverbs 12:28
2. Antithetic - the first and second line contain opposing thoughts which intensifies the difference between them
Example: "in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers." - Psalm 90:6
3. Synthetic - the second line adds new depth to the first line by extending the idea in a new direction
Example: "As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him." - Psalm 103:13

As you read the psalms and proverbs of the Bible, you can use the following questions as you reflect on their meaning and their impact on your life (parts taken from Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer by Concordia Publishing House, pg. XIV-XV):
  1. WRITER: What is the poet doing? What is historical and cultural context that influences these words? What does the writer intend for me to understand?
  2. YOU: What connections am I making based on my own experiences? Can I identify with the circumstance of the voice in the psalm, or does this experience sound foreign to me? What do I not understand? What effect does this writing have on me?
  3. TEXT: What explanations of this text are possible? What devices, such as ambiguities and paradoxes, do we need to look further into? What scriptures can we turn to for clarity?

Dear God, we pray that as we read Your Word, You would fill us with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Keep our hearts open to what You have to say. Guide us so that we can learn, know, and understand Your heart rather than focus on our own experiences in these situations. Help us to praise you in all circumstances. Even in our struggles, may the scriptures bring us conviction and comfort. Amen.

You can engage these readings and devotional times individually or as a group. If you want to send an email to Family of Christ with your thoughts and questions, you are invited to click the link below.