God's relationship with his people in the psalms

381 psalms god relationshipWhile 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 psalm was lamentation-nearly a third of the psalms addressed God in some sort of complaint. 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: "Lord, how long will you forget me completely?" How long do you hide your face from me? How long should I care in my soul and be afraid in my heart daily? 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 invited to vote in the lawsuit. Maybe to remind them that there were some in God's people who really felt bad. They expected God's intervention, but did not know when that would happen. This also describes our present relationship with God. Although God has actively intervened through Jesus Christ to defeat our worst enemies (sin and death), he does not always respond to our physical problems as quickly as we wish. The Lamentations remind us that trouble can last longer. Therefore, we continue to look to God and hope he will solve the problem.

There are even psalms that accuse God of sleeping:
"Wake up, wake up to justice and do my thing, my God and my Lord! Lord, my God, help me to the right of your righteousness, that they are not pleased with me. Do not let her say in her heart: There, there! We wanted that. Do not let them say we devoured him (Ps 35,23-25).

The singers did not really imagine that God fell asleep behind the judge's bench. The words are not meant as a factual representation of reality. They rather describe the personal emotional state - in this case it is the frustration. The national hymn book invited people to learn this song to express the depth of their feelings. Even if they did not face the enemy described in the psalm at the time, the day could come when that would happen. Therefore, in this song, God is being implored for retribution: "They shall be ashamed and ashamed, all who rejoice in my misfortune, and they shall dress in shame and disgrace, who rebuke against me (v. 26)."

In some cases, the words go "beyond the ordinary" - far beyond what we would expect to hear in the church: "Their eyes are to become dark, they do not see, and their hips keep shaking. Remove them from the Book of Life that they are not written by the righteous "(Ps 69,24.29). Probably the one who takes your young children and shatters them on the rock! (Ps 137,9)

Did the singers literally mean it that way? Maybe some did. But there is a more understanding explanation: we should understand the extreme language as a hyperbole - as emotional exaggerations by the Psalmist ... 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 thanksgiving: "I thank the LORD for his righteousness, and I will praise the name of the LORD the Most High" (Ps 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 situation. The first verse of the psalm states that David sang the words of this psalm, "when the LORD delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies," I cry unto the LORD the acclaimed, and I will be saved from my enemies. There was a bond of death around me, and the flood of destruction terrified me. Of the realm of the dead gang surrounded me, and death's chains overwhelmed me. When I was afraid, I called to the Lord ... The earth trembled and staggered, and the foundations of the mountains moved and trembled ... smoke rose from his nose and consumed fire from his mouth; Flames sprayed from him (Ps 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 to praise followed by a rationale: Praise the Lord, all the Gentiles! Praise Him, all peoples! For His mercy and truth reign over us forever. Hallelujah! (Ps 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


God's relationship with his people in the psalms