ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Reading the Bible: Psalms

Updated on January 8, 2011

The Psalms may be the most read book in all the Bible.  People find them very inspiring, poetic, and short making them a possible minute read.  For devotions people enjoy them because most months there are 30 days, and there are 150 Psalms, so if you read 5 a day, you read through the book in a month (of course Psalm 119 makes that hard).  Whether reading for fun, or digging for inspirational truth a few helps in reading the Psalms will undoubtedly make your time in there more meaningful.

Know Your History

Again, a key to reading the Psalms is knowing the historical context in which they were written.  If you just read the Psalms it's like turning on a movie, such as the Wizard of Oz, and listening to Dorothy sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and then turning the movie off.  You have no idea who she is, why she is singing, what has happened to her, nor what happens when everything is over.  Sure the song may be nice to listen to as it is a quality song in its own right, but in order to understand it who have to watch the movie.  The same with the Psalms.  Knowing what is going on when they are composed lends the significance.

Unfortunately finding the specific history of each Psalm is nigh impossible.  Some Psalms start off with headings such as "When David was morning for Absolon" and "When David was being pursued by Saul."  That makes it easy.  But these Psalms that have the specific histories embedded are the exception not the rule.  For the rest, we really have nothing to go on to know the specific histories.

Although we may not be able to know the specific histories, we can know the general histories of most all of them.  If a psalm says that it was written by David, we know general speaking what is going on.  Chances are David composed the bulk of his psalms while he was a shepherd.  When you are a shepherd you have slightly more time on your hands then when you are the king of Israel.  We know GENERALLY speaking what is going on in David's life, and also the nation of Israel.  We also know God's role.

What Are They?

Psalms is another word for a song.  The entire book was a type of hymnal in a way that was used in temple worship and undoubtedly other religious activities.  I imagine David walking around the palace humming one of the ones he wrote, but that's just a guess.  The music to these have long been lost, but they are still songs none the less.

So that being said we have moved into a new genre of Scripture: song.  The book of Psalms is not the only place we find songs in Scripture.  They are found in Exodus when Mariam sings a song when they cross the Red Sea (Exodus 15:21), and Deborah sings a song that includes celebration for killing a guy (Judges 5:2-31).  Songs are supposed to be interpreted similar to prayers: they are the deep emotional response of a person to God in regards to a situation.  It's because of these deep emotions that people are so drawn to the Psalms.  They remind us that David had a soul and questioned God, doubted whether promises would be fulfilled, he danced on a mountaintop for joy in the good and wallowed in despair in the bad.  It's important to remember however that these are emotional responses to a situation.  I believe they are all divinely inspired and hold absolute truth in their message, but it needs to be remembered what they are and what they aren't.  These aren't David's lectures on the realities of life, they are what he feels right then and how he is responding.

More than One Kind

As I will demonstrate in the hubs to come, there are several sub-genres of the Psalms, all of which should be approached a little differently.  They'll become obvious to you once you are exposed to them, and you'll be able to identify them on your own with very little difficulty.  The big ones are:

Hymns

Prophetic

Wisdom

Imprecatory 

Thanksgiving

Remembrance

A Recommendation

I would recommend "How to Read the Psalms" by Tremper Longman. I am not aware of any other book that just gives you general principles in reading the psalms without offering devotions and personal commentaries. This book prepares you to read them yourself and let the text speak to you without outside influence.

If you missed my other hubs on reading the Bible check out where I began the series with How to read narrative.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)