Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Praying the Psalms

"Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help" (Psalm 30:10).

The Psalms may be classified into several broad categories. First there are psalms of adoration addressed to God as prayer and praise. In other psalms of adoration we address one another with an exhortation to praise God. Examples of these are Psalms 144 and 150.

Second, there are nature psalms which celebrate the revelation of God’s beauty, order, and power in creation. These call upon the entire universe to resound with His praise. Examples include Psalms 8 and 104.

Third, there are the enthronement psalms which celebrate the king in Israel, but only as he is a representative of the enthroned King of kings. The church today views them as references to Jesus Christ. Examples of these include Psalms 2 and 110.

Fourth, there are the penitential psalms—psalms of confession and contrition. They express our sorrow over sin as we lament that we have displeased our Lord. Examples include Psalms 6 and 51.

Fifth, there are the imprecatory psalms. These are prayers that call down God’s judgment and curse against His enemies because they have attacked His people. Is it right to pray this way? Clearly it is, because God wrote these psalms for our use. We must remember, though, that when we pray for God to destroy His enemies, we leave it up to Him how to destroy them. You and I were “destroyed” by God’s judgment and resurrected to a new life in the Spirit. We should hope that God will destroy our enemies by bringing them through the same experience. Examples include Psalms 109 and 137.

Sixth, there are redemptive-historical psalms. These celebrate the mighty acts of God as He delivered His people and established His covenant, and as He remained faithful to them when they were unfaithful to Him. Examples include Psalms 105 and 106.

Additionally, there are the wisdom psalms which instruct us in God’s ways (Psalms 1 and 15). There are also psalms of thanksgiving, like Psalm 107, which focus on our gratitude to God. Many, if not most, of the Psalms fall into more than one of these categories.

The Psalms give Christians a wide range of human experience and emotion. They instruct us about God as One who delights in the adoration and prayers of His people. As you study the Psalms the next ten days, strive to see them as models for your own personal prayers.