Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Psalm 8 and How to study the Psalms

crab apple blossoms

Psalm 8

How Majestic Is Your Name

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Today we will continue to look at Psalms in general and at Psalm 8  Yesterday we looked at the importance and beauty of the book of Psalms.  Today we will look a some suggestions on how to study the psalms.  This list is only suggestions.  I found these suggestions in some of my old notes.  I am unable to give credit to the authors - as I don't know who to credit.

Always, however, the first step in any Bible study is prayer.  Get rid of all distractions. Ask God to help you understand his word before you even begin.

How to Study the Psalms

  1. Read the psalm several times.
  2. Try to put the main message of the psalm in one or two sentences.
  3. Try to identify the type or types of psalm.  (wisdom, Messianic, lament, praise, imprecatory  confession, creation, thanksgiving, pilgrimage).
  4. Notice the the parallel structures. Look for the use of repetitive devices in the psalm; refrains, keywords, synonyms. Look for other literary techniques used in the psalm: figures of speech, direct speech, ellipses, reversals, surprising turns, question and answer.
  5. Look for the purpose for the psalm at the time it was written, why was it important to the nation of Israel.  
  6. What principles are taught in the psalm which need to be applied to our contemporary context and life.
  7. Do you see Christ in the psalm? 
  8. How can the truth of the psalm be applied to your own life.

We have read it several times.

Put the main message in a few sentences: The glory of our magnificent God is reflected in His creation.  God has exalted lowly humans by giving them dominion over His creation.

Type of psalm: It is a wisdom, creation, praise, messianic psalm.

Structures, repetition and figures of speech:
Repetition: The opening words ( Psalm 8:1 ) is repeated as the closing words ( Psalm 8:9 ).  This repetition clarifies that the main purpose of the psalm is to exalt God.
Name: How excellent is His Name:  Name signifies the character or reputation of God.
Contrast: The weak with the strong - The weakness of the babies is contrasted with the strength of the enemies. Because of God, the weak who praise and sing His name, are able to silence the powerful. ( Psalm 8:2 )  This verse is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 21:16  Children felt comfortable in the presence of Jesus.  Children often surprise us with their display of unfailing faith. Through their faith God is able to silence the strong enemies. Spurgeon writes: How often will children tell us of a God whom we have forgotten! How doth their simple prattle refute those learned fools who deny the being of God! Many men have been made to hold their tongues, while sucklings have borne witness to the glory of the God of heaven.
Anthropomorphism, God's fingers. God is so magnificent and powerful that it only took his fingers to place the stars and moon in place.   (Psalm 8:3 ).
Comparison: What is man?  The universe is so huge and wonderful, man must be little, weak and insignificant compared to God. ( Psalm 8:4 )
Reversal: But God has created mankind in the image and likeness of God. Man is to exercise dominion over the rest of creation. ( Psalm 8:5-8 , Genesis 1: 26-28 )

Purpose of the psalm during the time of King David:  As a shepherd David probably frequently looked at the starry night sky and was filled with wonder. His thoughts would turn to the magnificence of God.  As a shepherd he would have protected his sheep from the wild anomals.  He recognized that God was his protecter and all of creation was under God's feet. The psalm speaks of man in general and the honor that God bestowed on His creation of man.  God created man in His image. The psalm paints a picture of an almighty God who is to be praise. It shows the responsibility of man to properly manage the earth over which God has given him dominion.

Christ in this psalm: Jesus Christ is the primary focus of this psalm. Humans bear God’s image. The Lord  God has endowed humans with dignity and charged them to rule. Hebrews 2:6–8 applies these words to Jesus Christ, the ideal human who fully realized God’s purposes. Paul applies this phrase to Christ in the (1 Cor 15:27–28) The statement is again found in Hebrews 2:6-7   Christ came to remove the burdon of sin from the children of Adam. The Psalm points to Christ and His future accomplishments.  This wisdom psalm is also a messianic psalm.

Application to our own life: Yes, you are important to God, and He has a purpose for you to fulfill. He wants you to “reign in life” through His Son (Rom. 5:17), for you are enthroned in the heavens with Him. (Ephesians 2:6) As believers in Christ our affections should not be on things of this earth, but of things that are in heaven.  While God is the creator of all, He is not necessarily the Father of all men. The Lord of all can be our Lord.  We can have a relationship with God.  He can be our God in an intimate way.  By grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone you can become a child of God.

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