The Psalms possess an enduring fascination for us. For frankness, directness, intensity, and intimacy, they are unrivaled in all of Scripture. Somehow the psalmists seem to have anticipated all our awe, desires, and frustrations. No wonder Christians have used the Psalms in worship since the earliest times. Yet the Psalms cause us difficulties when we look at them closely. Their poetry is unfamiliar in form. Many images they use are foreign to us today. And the psalmists sometimes express thoughts that seem unworthy of Scripture.
Tremper Longman helps us overcome the distance between the psalmists’ world and ours. He explains the various kinds of psalms, the way they were used in Hebrew worship, and their relationship to the rest of the Old Testament. He looks at how Christians can appropriate their messages and insights today. He explains the use of parallelism and imagery.
Step-by-step suggestions for interpreting the psalms are followed by exercises for further study and reflection. Also included is a helpful guide to commentaries on the Psalms. How to Read the Psalms is a book for all those who long to better understand these mirrors of the soul.
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“Genre refers to a group of texts similar in their mood, content, structure or phraseology.” (Page 20)
“Toward the pole of generality, all psalms are in the genre of poetry, but our discussion now will focus on a narrower level of genre. The seven genres which we will describe are the hymn, the lament, the thanksgiving psalm, the psalm of remembrance, the psalm of confidence, the wisdom psalm and the kingship psalm. These seven genres may be broken down further into even narrower genres.” (Pages 23–24)
“Hymns are easily recognized by their exuberant praise of the Lord.” (Page 24)
“The thanksgiving psalm is a response to answered lament.” (Page 30)
“The reasons for praise, however, form the most significant part of the psalm. God is not praised for abstract qualities, but rather for the way in which he has entered into the individual and corporate lives of his people.” (Page 25)