Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Anatomy of the Soul (Psalm 34)

"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Psalm 34:1).

Even though David is not the sole author of the book of Psalms, he is the most famous. His prayers and songs to God provide a rich source for readers to learn of the mighty works of God and the dependence of man. This treasure chest of spiritual jewels is more than a compilation of poetic verses. It contains accounts of Jewish history, portrays the struggles and triumphs of individuals, and records prophecies of the coming Christ and the consummation of His kingdom.

The Psalms are also deeply personal, illustrating God’s love for His people and their security in Him. The Psalms deal with the spiritual journeys of men who poured their souls out to God. In reading them, we taste their spiritual conflicts and the consolations that come from the Lord, the pain of repentance and the freedom of forgiveness, the purity of God’s law and the sweet excellency of His grace.

John Calvin called the book of Psalms “An Anatomy of all Parts of the Soul.” His commentaries on the Psalms are some of the most renowned ever written. His insights and passion for God shine through on every page. He relied not on mystical interpretations, but employed sound judgment in seeking the mind of the Holy Spirit. He accomplished this by studying the grammatical and historical context of each psalm. Calvin did not lean toward allegory as did his contemporaries, but he sought the literal interpretation—only employing allegory when the text called for it.

Because Calvin focused on literal interpretation, he did not always interpret passages with an “evangelical” slant. Some commentators find Jesus hidden under every bush in the Psalms. While Calvin did not ignore evangelical passages, he was conservative in approach. Yet he took great pains to emphasize, when appropriate, passages dealing with the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone.

Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms is no dry, theological work; it is highly practical. He examines themes such as praise, holiness, repentance, prayer, forgiveness, deliverance, and security in God. Thursday we will begin our journey with Calvin in the Psalms as we study these great truths of Scripture and apply them to our lives.

Read Psalm 23, Psalm 27, and Psalm 51. What are the main themes of each psalm? Throughout the day keep these three psalms and their themes in mind. At the end of the day, make a list of how these psalms affected your life in your thoughts, words, and deeds.