God's relationship with his people in the psalms
While there are some psalms that deal with the history of the people of God, most psalms describe the relationship of the individual with God. It may be assumed that a psalm only concerned the author and did not necessarily contain a promise to others. However, the psalms were included in the hymn book of ancient Israel, inviting us to participate in a relationship as described in these songs. They show that God sought not only a relationship with the people as a whole, but also with the individuals in it. Everyone could participate.
Complaining rather than understanding
However, the relationship was not always as harmonious as we would have liked. The most common form of a psalm was that of lamentation - almost a third of the psalms turned to God with some form of lament. The singers described a problem and asked God to solve it. The psalm was often exaggerated and emotional. Psalm 13,2: 3 is an example of this: "Lord, how long will you forget me completely?" How long are you hiding your face from me? How long should I care in my soul and fear in my heart every day? How long should my enemy rise above me? »
The melodies were known because the psalms were often sung. Even those who were not personally affected were asked to join the lament. Perhaps to remind them that there were some in God's people who were really bad. They expected God to intervene but did not know when this would happen. This also describes our relationship with God today. Although God intervened actively through Jesus Christ to our worst enemies To defeat (sin and death), he doesn't always take care of our physical problems as quickly as we would like. The lamentations remind us that difficulties can last a long time. So we continue to look at God and hope that He may solve the problem.
There are even psalms that accuse God of sleeping:
«Wake up, wake up to make myself right and do my thing, my God and Lord! Lord my God, help me rightly according to your righteousness that they should not rejoice in me. Do not let them say in their hearts: there, there! We wanted that. Don't let them say: we devoured him (Psalm 35,23: 25).
The singers didn't really imagine that God fell asleep behind the bench. The words are not meant to be factual representations of reality. They rather describe the personal emotional state - in this case it is the frustration. The national hymnbook invited people to learn this song to express the depth of their feelings. Even if they were not facing the enemies described in the psalm at the moment, the day could come when this would happen. Therefore in this song God is begged for retribution: "You should be ashamed and ashamed, everyone who rejoices in my misfortune; they should dress in shame and shame who boast against me (V. 26) ".
In some cases, the words go "beyond the ordinary" - far beyond what we would expect to hear in the Church: "Your eyes should darken so that you cannot see, and your hips will always shake. Erase them from the book of life that they are not written by the righteous » (Psalm 69,24.29). Blessed is he who takes your young children and smashes them on the rock! (Psalm 137,9)
Did the singers literally mean that? Maybe some did. But there is a more insightful explanation: we should understand the extreme language as hyperbole - as emotional exaggerations through which the psalmist ... God wants to let God know how strong his feelings are in a particular situation » (William Klein, Craig Blomberg and Robert Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, p. 285).
The psalms are full of emotional language. This should encourage us to be able to express our deepest feelings in our relationship with God and to put the problems in our hands.
Psalms of thanks
Some lamentations end with the promise of praise and thanks: "I thank the LORD for his righteousness and I praise the name of the LORD most high" (Psalm 7,18).
This may look like the author offers God a barter: If you help me, then I will praise you. But in fact the person praises God already. The request for help is the implied admission that God can fulfill the request. People are already awaiting their intervention in times of need and hope that they will be able to gather again for services on the coming festive days in order to applaud their thanks and praises. Even their melodies know them well. Even the great grief sufferers are required to learn the thanks and praise psalms, because there will be times in life, as these songs also express their feelings. It urges us to praise God, even if it hurts us personally, because other members of our community are allowed to experience times of joy. Our relationship with God is not just about us as individuals - it's about being members of the people of God. If a person is happy, we are all happy; if a person suffers, we all suffer with it. Psalms of grief and psalms of joy are equally important to us. Even if we are allowed to enjoy many blessings, we complain that many Christians are persecuted for their beliefs. And they, too, sing psalms of joy, confident that they will see better days in the future.
Psalm 18 is an example of thanksgiving for God's salvation from an emergency. The first verse of the Psalm explains that David sang the words of this Psalm "when the LORD saved him from the hand of all his enemies": I call to the LORD, the highly praised, and I will be saved from my enemies. I was surrounded by the bonds of death, and the floods of destruction frightened me. The bonds of the dead embraced me and the ropes of death overwhelmed me. When I was afraid, I called on the Lord ... The earth shook and shook, and the foundations of the mountains moved and shook ... Smoke rose from his nose and consuming fire from his mouth; Flames spread from him (Psalm 18,4: 9).
Again, David uses an exaggerated choice of words to emphasize something. Every time we've been rescued from an emergency - whether caused by invaders, neighbors, animals or a drought - we thank and praise God for all the help he's giving us.
songs of praise
The shortest psalm illustrates the basic concept of a hymn: the call for praise followed by a reason: Praise the LORD, all pagans! Praise him, all peoples! Because his grace and truth rules over us forever. Hallelujah! (Psalm 117,1: 2)
God's people are called upon to absorb these feelings as part of their relationship with God: they are feelings of awe, admiration and security. Are these feelings of security always present in God's people? No, the lamentations remind us that we are negligent. What is amazing about the Book of Psalms is that all the different kinds of Psalms have been mixed together. Praise, thanks, and lament are connected; this reflects the fact that God's people experience all these things and that God is with us wherever we go.
Some psalms are about the kings of Judah and were probably sung every year during public parades. Some of these psalms are interpreted today as the Messiah, since all the psalms find fulfillment in Jesus. As a human being, he experienced - like us - worries, fears, feelings of abandonment, but also of faith, praise and joy. We praise Him as our King, as the One through whom God brought us salvation. The Psalms inspire our imagination. They strengthen us through our living relationship with the Lord as members of the people of God.
by Michael Morrison