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SITS Conference: Psalms

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1 SITS Conference: Psalms
Souls Thirsty For God March 5, 2009 SITS Conference: Psalms Speaker: Allen Dvorak

2 In the opening prayer… “Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression?” (44:23-24)

3 In the opening prayer… “O God, why have You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?” (74:1)

4 “For You are the God of my strength; why do You cast me off?” (43:2)
Bold Language! “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (10:1) “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (13:1) “For You are the God of my strength; why do You cast me off?” (43:2)

5 Bold Language! “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;” (22:1-2a) “O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down.” (38:1-2)

6 “Whiners Never Prosper”
Are the authors of the lament psalms just full of self-pity? Israelite complainers: “they tempted the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” (Ex. 17:7) A legitimate question The lament psalms are emotional in nature The lament psalms “reflect fundamental dimensions of human experience: suffering, despair, pain, hopelessness, and anguish.” [Bellinger, 44]

7 Souls Thirsty For God “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” -- Psalm 42:1

8 Categorization of Psalms
Praise Lament “As we turn to the lament (from the hymn – asd), we go from the height of our relationship with God to its depths. The lament is the polar opposite of the hymn on the emotional spectrum.” [Longman 26] Lament and praise “correspond to the two most basic ways in which the heart responds to God (Psalm 30:5; Romans 12:15; James 5:13).” [Roberts 16]

9 Categorization of Psalms
Praise Declarative Descriptive Lament Imprecatory Penitential Historical Etc. “We need to be flexible as we speak of a psalm’s genre.”

10 Categorization of Psalms
Praise Declarative Descriptive Lament Individual Community Differentiated on the basis of the “mode” of praise Differentiated on the basis of the “source” of the petition

11 Categorization of Psalms
Lament Individual Community Both Bellinger Anderson 3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 35, 36, 39, 40, 42-43, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 63, 64, 69, 70, 71, 77, 86, 88, 109, 120, 140, 141, 142 6, 11, 16, 38, 51, 62, 94, 102, 130, 143 14, 41, 53, 139 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 90, 123, 126, 137 14, 53, 106, 108 89, 94, 129

12 Roberts Bellinger Longman
Westermann (C) Westermann (I) Address to God Invocation Invocation Address/ Petition Address Remembrance of Past Salvation Lamentation Complaint Complaints Lament Lament Description of Wicked Curse of Enemies Confession Plea/Protest Confession Assertion Declaration of Trust Confidence in God’s Response Confession of Trust Confession of Trust Petition Petition Plea to God for help Petition Petition Motivation for God to Act Double Wish Vow of Praise Conclusion Vow of Praise Vow of Praise Assurance of Being Heard Assurance of Being Heard Hymn/Blessing Praise of God

13 Roberts Bellinger Longman
Westermann (C) Westermann (I) 1Address to God 1Invocation 1Invocation 1Address/ Petition 1Address 2Remembrance of Past Salvation 3Lamentation 2Complaint 3Complaints 2Lament 2Lament 4Description of Wicked 5Curse of Enemies 5Confession Plea/Protest 4Confession Assertion 6Declaration of Trust 6Confidence in God’s response 3Confession of Trust 3Confession of Trust 7Petition 3Petition 2Plea to God for help 4Petition 4Petition 8Motivation for God to Act 6Double Wish 9Vow of Praise 4Conclusion 5Vow of Praise 7Vow of Praise 10Assurance of Being Heard 5Assurance of Being Heard 7Hymn/Blessing 8Praise of God

14 Value of the Lament Psalms
“As we probe the Psalms together, our ultimate purpose is not to increase our knowledge of ancient customs and poetic forms; we are studying to know God better through his Word.” [Longman, 15] “The lives of obedient Christians are always fulfilling, but never easy. As Christians, we have something which the world lacks – Christ who brings meaning to our lives. Nonetheless, as long as we are in the world we will confront hostility, frustration, fear and danger.” [Longman, 133; emphasis mine - asd]

15 Value of the Lament Psalms
We can relate to them. We also confront crises in our lives. The psalmists are vague in their descriptions of the nature of their crises. Who are the enemies? “While the general language of the laments causes difficulty in identifying the specific crisis behind the laments, it has the advantage of making the texts relevant to different people in a variety of crises.” [Bellinger, 47; emphasis mine - asd]

16 Value of the Lament Psalms
We can relate to them. We also confront crises in our lives. The psalmists are vague in their descriptions of the nature of their crises. Who are the enemies? “In most cases the references are vague, and we have every reason to believe they are so intentionally. The psalms are purposefully [emphasis mine – asd] vague in reference to historical events so that they can be used in a variety of situations.” [Longman, 27]

17 Value of the Lament Psalms
They remind us of the nature and role of our God. “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You.” (5:4) “For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations.” (22:28)

18 Value of the Lament Psalms
They remind us of the nature and role of our God. “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O Lord, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” (36:6-7)

19 Value of the Lament Psalms
They remind us of our dependence upon God. “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.” (3:3) “But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.” (94:22) “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (4:8)

20 Value of the Lament Psalms
“The psalms call upon God to act as God should and deliver and bring justice as promised, and the speakers expect it to happen.” [Bellinger, 72-73] “The psalmists are not like Greek tragedians who portray a no-exit situation of fate or necessity; rather, they raise a cry out of the depths in the confidence that God has the power to lift a person out of the ‘miry bog’ and to set one’s feet upon a rock (Ps. 40:1-3). Hence the laments are really expressions of praise, offered in a minor key in the confidence that YHWH is faithful and in anticipation of a new lease on life.” [Anderson, 60; emphasis mine]

21 Value of the Lament Psalms
They manifest faith in God’s promise to protect His people. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. 3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war should rise against me, In this I will be confident.” (27:1-3)

22 Value of the Lament Psalms
They manifest faith in God’s promise to protect His people. “You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob. 5 Through You we will push down our enemies; Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.” (44:4-5) “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life.” (54:4) “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (56:3-4)

23 Value of the Lament Psalms
They remind us of the need to pray. “We can learn from the laments how to be honest with God. The psalmist held nothing back; neither should we.” [Longman 71]

24 Value of the Lament Psalms
They remind us of the need to pray. The spirituality seen in the honest dialogue of faith in the laments is not weak or weary but bold and tough, even in the face of trial. An honest faith acknowledges life’s realities. In the Psalms, no part of life is ever beyond dialogue with God.” [Bellinger, 71-72]

25 Value of the Lament Psalms
From the life of Jacob Divine promises Jacob’s vow Jacob – “greatly afraid and distressed” Jacob reminded God of His promises Jacob wrestled a “man” “for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed” Our language in prayer becomes bolder and more passionate as we begin to fully appreciate our dependence upon God.

26 Purposeful Arrangement?
Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4 Book 5 (1-41) (42-72) (73-89) (90-105) ( ) -41 -31 -17 -44 24 18 12 Bellinger Anderson 6 24 20 8 4 11 21 18 9 2 10 Number of Laments 1 2 3 4 5 Book

27 Purposeful Arrangement?
65 60 Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4 Book 5 (1-41) (42-72) (73-89) (90-105) ( ) -41 -31 -17 -44 55 50 45 40 35 30 Bellinger Anderson 25 59% 65% 47% 24% 25% 51% 58% 53% 12% 23% 20 15 % of Laments 10 Book 1 2 3 4 5

28 “In Hebrew, the book of Psalms is entitled tehillim, which (when translated) means ‘songs of praise.’ As we look at the psalms, though, the laments substantially outnumber the songs of praise. In what sense then is this book characterized as tehillim? A close examination of the Psalter suggests an answer. A decided shift takes place as we move from the beginning of the book to its end. As we move toward the end, praise overtakes lament until at the very end of the book we have a virtual fireworks of praise.” [Longman, 45]

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30 The Five Books of Psalms
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150

31 The Form of a Lament Psalm
Invocation How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? Complaint How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Petition Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against him"; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. Conclusion But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13

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