July 4, 2021 Sermon Notes – Introduction to the Psalms


Intro to the Psalms: 

Why The Psalms?

  1. They Are Scripture.
    • As Scripture they:
      • give us 150 divinely sanctioned songs
      • songs that express the full range of human emotion & experience
      • safe, Biblical ways for us to express ourselves to God (including sorrow, disappointment, and anger)
      • No other book in the Bible gives us words to say to God (ie. pray) like the Psalms
  2. They Help Us Understand the New Testament
    • The Psalms are quoted/referred to 200+ times in the New Testament!
    • thus, for us to understand the New Testament, we need to understand the Psalms
  3. The Psalms Point Us to Jesus
    • Jesus says that he came to fulfil what was written about him in the Law, Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44)
    • There are many Messianic Psalms (Psalms that foreshadow and prophecy about the coming of Jesus)


Understanding the Psalms:

These points are adapted from Walter Bruggemann’s book, The Message of the Psalms.

  1. Orientation
    • A Psalm of orientation is a song that describes a well-ordered world where all is as it should be. A simple example would be Psalm 8.In Psalms of Orientation:
      • God is honoured
      • The righteous are blessed
      • The wicked are judged
      • God fulfills his promises
      • God’s people live lives of faithful worship

      Essentially, life is good. It is stable, predictable, and full of faith and hope.

  2. Dis-Orientation
    • These are songs that describe a dis-ordered world full of the consequences sin and separation from God. A good example would be Psalm 137.In Psalms of Dis-orientation:
      • God seems distant, disinterested, or even vindictive
      • The righteous are persecuted
      • The wicked prosper
      • God ignores his promises
      • God’s people cry out for justice but aren’t heard

      These Psalms describe a life that is in the midst of chaos, full of confusion, frustration, and anger. Life is unstable, unpredictable, and it seems like God either isn’t there or doesn’t care.

  3. New-Orientation
    • These are songs that describe a re-ordered life, once again full of hope because God has done a work of transformation. They have experienced the chaos and the darkness, but God has delivered them and led them through to the other side.A good example would be Psalm 30.Psalms of New-Orientation describe how:
      • God’s people were persecuted and going through trials
      • They cried out to God and he heard them
      • God intervened on behalf of his people
        • He judged the wicked
        • Delivered the needy
        • Executed justice
        • And provided salvation
      • And because of this, we live a life of gratitude, faithfulness and praise


Praying the Psalms:

  1. Personally
    • Pray and meditate on the Psalm from a personal perspective
    • Let the words of the Psalm become your words, regardless of how you are currently feeling
    • Let the words of Scripture shape your thoughts and emotions
  2. Interpersonally
    • Pray the Psalm on behalf of other people (ie. intercessory prayer)
    • When you can’t identify with what a Psalm is saying, think of others you might know, or others around the world who might feel that way; then pray it for them
    • Let the Psalms lead you to sympathize or empathize with others
  3. Christo-Centrically
    • Many Psalms point ahead to Jesus, so keep your eyes open! (eg. Ps. 22)
    • Let these Psalms become songs of thanksgiving for all Christ has done for us


Here is an excellent overview of the Psalms: