Sunday June 14 – Saturday June 20
Psalms 15 – 28
What to look for in Psalms 15-28
Psalm 15 through Psalm 28 are part of the core of Book I of the Psalter; that is, psalms that all (with only two exceptions) focus on or are attributed to David. Why is David such a key player in the psalms, and these early psalms in particular? Because of God’s covenant to bring about His messianic King through the line of David. David, in his faithfulness to God, becomes a type or representative of this promised King – God’s Messiah – who will bring the fullness of peace, justice, and righteousness to God’s people and to God’s world.
Notice the first-person language of these psalms. These are “I/me” psalms, describing various situations in life faced by servant of the Lord, who in these psalms is represented by David. First, before personalizing and appropriating these psalms for our own experiences, we must appreciate these psalms’ role in speaking for God’s anointed servant, the messianic King. Look especially at Psalm 22. Some words from this psalm are found on Jesus’ lips during the crucifixion. Does this psalm take on different meaning when you read it through the lens of Jesus’ death? Or from the perspective of a person who is experiencing oppression or unjust treatment?
It can also be enriching and edifying to read these psalms through our own lenses. Many of these particular psalms are beloved for giving voice and language to universal human experience. Allow these psalms to form your own prayers this week in the things you are experiencing.
But, even as you think about the individual aspect of the psalms, remember that you are one member of a greater body, one sentence in a sweeping narrative. As O. Palmer Robertson writes in The Flow of the Psalms, the personal significance of these psalms for you and I becomes clear: “as it fares with the messianic king, so it fares with each member of the messianic kingdom.” Though personal and individual in language, these psalms are swept up in a kingdom mentality. In times of great personal distress, when you or I pray along with the psalmist for the Lord’s special intervention and help, let us follow this model of focusing on the well-being of all of God’s people as the framework for seeking personal deliverance. In other words, how is my own individual experience part of the greater whole of God’s people?
Notice also the language of lament that permeates these psalms. Psalm 17, 22, 25, 26 and 28 all express language of crying out to God for help. In times of distress, the psalmist turns immediately to God. But this is not a mere venting of emotion to provide emotional relief; rather, a supplication for divine assistance, and thus implicitly, a statement or affirmation of faith. In this way, these psalms are providing us with the language of faith in some of the hardest experiences of human life.
O. Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms
Daniel J Estes, Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms
Questions to ask of Psalms 15-28
How do these psalms depict and talk about God? What descriptions or titles are given to God by the psalmists? Which of these descriptions or titles most describe your experience of God right now?
How do these psalms depict and talk about humanity?
Is it easy or hard for you to place yourself into the first-person perspective of these psalms? Why?
Do any of the experiences described in these psalms resonate with your own experiences right now? If so, how can you use that psalm to bring yourself before God, but within the framework of being apart of God’s Kingdom?
Does anything about these psalms make you feel uncomfortable? Why?
What about these psalms gives you comfort or increases your hope or trust in the Lord?
O King of Glory, Shepherd, my Light and my Salvation, You alone give me clean hands and a pure heart. I present myself before You today to be met by You in my distress, to be cleansed of my sin, to be healed from my brokenness, and to be renewed in hope by You. You are strong and mighty. My hope is You, O Lord! Amen.