In this week’s lessons we look at some reasons why David praises the Lord, and see that even his prayer requests are offered with the end result of praise in mind.
Scripture: Psalm 9:1-20
If you were to ask any normal churchgoing person to define a psalm, I suppose that what he or she would most naturally compare it to is a hymn. A prayer perhaps, but chiefly a hymn in which David or one of the other authors of the psalms praises God. And the person would be right! For more than anything else, the psalms in our Bibles are praise hymns.
But have you noticed that there have not been any strictly praise psalms until now? At the end of the psalter they are nearly all praise psalms. The last five begin with the words "Praise the Lord," for instance. Here at the beginning it has been different. The first psalm celebrates the doctrine of the two ways, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The second is a messianic psalm, anticipating the victorious rule of God's coming king. These first two psalms are introductory. The next psalms ask for help or deliverance or justice, all in varying ways. The psalm closest to being a praise psalm thus far is Psalm 8, which begins and ends, "O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" But even that psalm was chiefly a celebration of man's place in the created universe, as we saw when we studied it. Psalm 9 is the first psalm that is chiefly a song of pure praise.
Yet I say "chiefly," because the psalm has two main parts and only the first is exclusively devoted to praise. The first part (vv. 1-12) contains praise for past deliverances. The second (vv. 13-20), which grows out of it, is prayer for future deliverances. Yet so confident is this second part that it seems largely to be praise also.
How would you define a psalm?
What themes have you noticed in the different psalms up to this point? Review what they teach you about the character of God.
For Further Study: Just as Psalm 9 is the first praise psalm in the Psalter, so Psalm 150 is the last. To develop a better understanding of the theology of praise, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “Hallelujah: The Last Praise Psalm.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
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