A reader-oriented approach provides a substantially new angle of vision on Psalm 18 and Psalms study in general. Reader-based interpretation is compared to conventional methodologies by means of four separate analyses of Psalm 18: a textual study, a form-critical explication, a rhetorical study, and an experimental reader-oriented study involving the following strategies. Initially, the components of the text are considered as networks of signals for the reader. Secondly, the text's speech acts are isolated and typified. Thirdly, the ancient and contemporary contexts for the reading of the psalm are examined.
The reader-oriented study culminates in two perspectives upon Psalm 18. The psalm may be read as a ritual speech act performed by the community of ancient worshippers, or as a lyric poem that each contemporary reader experiences by identification with the speaker. The concluding chapter reviews each of the methodologies, evaluating strengths and weaknesses, as well as interrelationships among methods.