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Psalm Theological Outline and Theme

Psalms Theological Outline and Theme

Special Focus Topics of Psalms

  • Logic of the main Psalms Genres
  • Distinctive of each genre
  • Curse enemy’s passages (Imprecatory Psalms)

NT Quotations of OT

  • 20% Psalms
  • 17% Isaiah

Psalms in NT

  • Quotations = 80
  • Allusions = 338

Medieval Church

  • Prophecies of the Messiah in OT & Psalms highly emphasized
  • For them, psalms were about Christ
  • Sometimes during monastic readings of Gospels: “Stop it and go back to the psalms”
  • Point: for the monks, both the Gospels and Psalms preach Christ, but they were ecstatic about psalms.

Martin Luther: “[The Book of Psalms is] a little Bible, and a summary of the Old Testament

Modern Church

  • Many modern NTs include 1 OT book: Psalms
  • For many of us: ecstatic about the psalms


  • Genre: a class of literature, having a particular form.
  • Book of psalms is an anthology. Variety genres for individual psalms
  • Main psalm genres: hymn, lament, thanksgiving
  • Other genres in the book of psalms include: confidence, remembrance, wisdom, and kingship/messianic

Hymn – When experiencing harmony with God, Orientation

Lament – When distressed, when God seems far, Disorientation

Thanksgiving – When God answers prayer, Reorientation

Hymn Psalms (“Orientation”)

  • Distinctive: Gives general reasons to praise God.
  • Psalms 100:1-2
    • Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing! Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us and we belong to Him; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
  • It is the most frequent type of Psalms
  • Book title “Tehillim” (Hebrew) means “Praises”
  • “evangelistic” join me in praise!
  • Psalmist usually gives reasons to praise God, use those things!
  • Reasons are typically general or vague, not specific to a historical situation.

Lament Psalms (“Disorientation”)

  • Mood: lament, pain, anxiety, torment, rejection, forsakenness, perplexity
  • Distinctive: Writer undergoes a trial, then brings it to God.
  • Common troubles: human enemies, personal faults, internal turmoil, abandonment by God.
  • Typical elements:
    1. Opening call to God
    2. Plea for help
    3. Complaints
    4. Declaration of innocence or confession of sin
    5. Wish for misfortune to come upon enemies
    6. Declaration of confidence that God will answer them
    7. Praise

Curse Enemies Psalms (Imprecatory)

  • Luke 6:27-28 (Love those who hate you)
  • Romans 12:14 (Bless those who curse you)
  • Psalms 137 (“blessed is the one who takes your little ones, and dashes their heads on the rocks”)
  • Does this show a contradiction? Why not?
    • In the psalm, God is the judge and he does judge. However, in the 2 NT passages we are being instructed to act on and love, and leave the judging to God.
    • We can make a theological case that these verses don’t contradict because God is perfect and nothing He says contradicts anything. He always speaks truth.
    • Progress of Revelation
      • Analogy of the rose
      • Nature: Heb.5:12-14 “not yet ready for advanced knowledge’
        • This hints at he slowly nurtured his people until they were ready for advanced knowledge.
      • “a mystery” (for OT believers)
      • hinted at in OT but fully revealed in NT
      • Says that God fully revealed His grace in the NT but in the OT, it was not fully revealed. It progressively grew.
      • As the books were written more and more of Gods character was revealed. (Strong argument)
    • Identify with experience, then draw hope
      • Psalms: inspired reflections on God through real experiences of writer
      • Honest and transparent
      • People in deep pain
      • See that they can finally praise be confident
      • Makes a way for the psalm identifies with someone who is hurting and relate to the way that people feel.
      • It is therapeutic and is often the first stage of recovery for someone who has been hurt.
    • Lament psalms are for people in deep pain.
      • In the end, God can always enable us to forgive

Thanksgiving Psalms (Reorientation)

  • Tone similar to hymn psalms
  • Difference: theme is thanksgiving for deliverance from trial
  • Distinctive: recounts a trouble; then Gods deliverance
  • Gods deliverance of one individual is often the main focus.


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