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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Summary of Psalms of Ascents

If you have not been to my blog before, I have just finished posting on a series through the Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134). I have really enjoyed posting on these and hope the reader has benefited from the post. I wanted to sum up my thoughts on these psalms and my posts regarding them.

First, I want to acknowledge that these are songs which were meant to be sung and they were not necessarily meant to be analyzed as deeply as I may have done. Do not get me wrong, because the Psalms are God's Word and inspired by Him, they are valuable to teach through (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But I want to let the reader know that I know these are poetry and I have attempted to handle them as poetry while I have attemped to form them into something I can communicate to the modern hearer.

Second, and related to the first, the reader may be tempted to think that I am more concerned about the structure of the outline of the sermon/lesson than I am about the content of the sermon. This simply is not true. I want to communicate to today's audience what the audience heard when these psalms were sung. This is the main reason I have attempted to connect a "modern" song to each of these. I hoped to communicate the same message the psalmist was sending through his words. In the post, it looks like the outline is the source of the discussion. I did post the outline first but the discussion which follows each outline is really the basis for which the outline comes. Whenever one is studying Scripture in an attempt to teach it, the content is the most important part of the passage; not the outline we use to communicate that content.
Rabbit Trail: By the way, I was preparing these for my home church, which sing mostly hymns which is why these songs are hymns and not "contemporary" (i.e. 80's) praise songs. I have nothing against praise songs and enjoy utilizing them in worship. The audience I have preparing these for, however, do not enjoy nor utilize these in their worship. Thus, I used what would communicate to them. If you use these outlines as a the basis for a sermon series, and you are going to attach a song to each psalm, you should think about what song would best communicate to your audience.

Finally, I pray these will be useful for someone. I hope that if you are pastor or a Christian leader wanting to preaching through these psalms, these psalms will provide you with "sermon seeds" which will allow to you powerfully commuincate the message God has laid on your heart. If you have used these, would you let me know by either posting here or emailing me at rkenneson[at]gmail[dot]com. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading.

Because the blog puts the most recent posting first, all the posts are in reverse order. Thus, below I have made a list in numerical order so that you can bookmark this page and simply refer to it to get each post in the order you want.

Psalm 120 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Dissatisfaction of living in a foreign land
Title: Longing to Go Home
Song: Beulah Land

Psalm 121 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Protection along the journey
Title: My Help Comes from the Lord       part 1      part 2
Song: His Eye is on the Sparrow

Psalm 122 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Praising God at the arrival to Jerusalem
Title: When We All Get to Heaven
Song: When We All Get to Heaven

Psalm 123 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Asking God for mercy
Title: Finding Mercy
Song: ?

Psalm 124 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Praising God for past help
Title: Whose Side is God On?
Song: God Will Take Care of You

Psalm 125 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Praising God for a relationship with Him
Title: I Have Found a Friend in Jesus
Song: Lily of the Valley

Psalm 126 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Remembering redemption from slavery and prayer for restoration
Title: Remembering the Great Acts of God       part 1      part 2
Song: Count Your Blessings

Psalm 127 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Vanity and family
Title: Vanity and Children
Song: ?

Psalm 128 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Family and corporate worship
Title: When We Walk with the Lord
Song: Trust and Obey

Psalm 129 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Persecution from enemies
Title: My God will Deliver Me
Song: He Hideth My Soul

Psalm 130 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Conflict within self
Title: The Comfort which Comes from God
Song: Heaven Came Down

Psalm 131 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Benefits of relationship with God
Title: The Life which Comes from God
Song: The Solid Rock

Psalm 132 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Prayer for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom
Title: The Davidic King is Coming
Song: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Psalm 133 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Unity with the people of God
Title: True Unity
Song: The Family of God

Psalm 134 (NASB, NIV, KJV)
Subject: Continuation of worship
Title: Wrapping Up with Worship
Song: Amazing Grace

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Book Review: Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament

I recently read Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. In this book the author addresses a critical issue needed to be heard by today's church leaders: the importance of Old Testament to believers and they manner in which the Old Testament should be taught to the people of God.

Kaiser begins his book with the need to preach and teach from the Old Testament. Too many times pastors either skim over the Old Testament material or they simply neglect it. When, for example, was the last time you heard a sermon in Zephaniah, Micah, or Obadiah? How does 1 Chronicles impact the 21st century Christian? How are we to apply the Song of Solomon in the body of Christ? Kaiser spends four chapters convincing his readers the need to recapture the importance of the Old Testament. He argues for the value of the Old Testament and then defines the problem which the Old Testament provides today's exegete. He speaks a little on preaching the Old Testament and moves into the importance of expository preaching as it relates to the first 39 books of the bible.

After this section of the book, Kaiser moves to the practical section of the book in which he puts forth the mechanics of how to preach and teach different genres from the Old Testament. He provides instructions on how to preach through narrative sections of the Old Testament, Hebrew wisdom literature, and the Prophets. He addresses the lament found throughout the Old Testament and give a guidance on teaching through the Torah. He spends time discussing the praise psalm and finally he writes on apocalyptic literature. In each of these sections, the author provides a sample sermon to show how one can move from exegesis to homiletics and provide a challenging exhortation to today's believers.

Kaiser concludes the book with chapter which encourages Christian leaders to change the world with the Word of God. The whole of the author's argument throughout the entire book is that Scripture is the Word of God and the Old Testament is part of Scripture and therefore the Old Testament should be taught regularly so believers can receive the whole counsel of God. In this concluding chapter, he says,

So let us mark it down as a principle: Where the preaching of God's Word is thin or abandoned for more "relevant" issues and encouragements, the growth, power, and effectiveness of the church wanes and ultimately is extinguished. But where the Word of God multiplies, spreads, and is sought after by all, the body of Christ demonstrates a resourcefulness and a power that goes forward despite all modern or ancient barriers, oppositions, or persecutions.

This is what the book is about. Recovering ALL of the Word of God and making it a priority to be preached and taught throughout the churches of the world.

The book has two small appendices. Both are useful for the serious reader. Appendix A is a worksheet for doing syntatical-tehological exegesis. It is worksheet the author uses and provided it to the readers as a helpful tool in doing studies in the Old Testament. Appendix B is reproduction of an article entitled, Biblical Integrity in an age of Theological Pluralism (Evangelical Journal 18 (2000) 19-28). The author of this article says that in 1946, W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsly wrote an article in the Swanee Review entitled "The Intential Fallacy" which began the thought which denies meaning is found in what the author intended to say but instead what the reader thinks is said. Biblical Integrity in an Age of Theological Pluralism is an article worth reading to show the importance of the concept of "authorial intent" and how that plays a part in biblical interpretation.

This book combines two of my favorite interests: the Old Testament and preaching. I think it is must read for anyone who want to preach the whole counsel of Scripture faithfully. The principles put forth in this book will help the bible student not only reclaim this part of Scripture in the life of the church, but will renew in them a passion for the Old Testament.

2t22 rating:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 11.3.08

Good thing you didn't say 'Wackenhut.'

Ben Bailey, Host of the Discovery Channel show Cash Cab. By the way, Wackenhut is a security company like Brinks.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wrapping Up With Worship

As we come to the last psalm in our study of the Psalms of Ascents, we come to Psalm 134. A quick review will allow us to see the themes which lead up to the final of these psalms. In Psalm 130, the psalmist prays about the conflict which comes from inside himself. In the next psalm, Psalm 131, the psalmist praises God for the life which God gives him. In Psalm 132, he begins to pray for the whole of God's people by anticipating the restoration of the Davidic line. In Psalm 133, the psalmist praises God for the unity found in the people of God. Not surprisingly, with Psalm 134 this series of psalms ends in a prayer for more worship to flow from God's people.

Read Psalm 134 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my working outline. I would appreciate any suggestions for improvement.

The Worship of the Lord

I. The continuation of worship (1)

II. The expectation in worship (2)

III. The blessing from worship (3)

It is fitting that the last psalm of this series ends in an exhortation to continue in worship. One can imagine the priest climbing the steps of the temple singing one of these fifteen psalms for every step he takes. Then he stands at the top of the stairs and sings at the top of his voice the words of this psalm.

He begins by first encouraging those who are to serve the Lord into the night to continue to praise the Lord. The priests did not serve 24 hours a day. Instead, they served in shifts. The psalmist came to Jerusalem to participate in one of the yearly celebrations which required all the males to return to Jerusalem. He came to worship and they had been worshipping all day. The psalmist now asks those serving in the temple to continue this worship into the night. The worship of the Lord should and will always continue.

Next, the psalmist tells those who are worshipping to lift their hands to the Lord in their worship. This is a physical posture which indicates a spiritual attitude of expectation. The lifting of hands to heaven shows the worshipper is expecting to receive whatever they have asked for from the Lord. It shows they know the Lord is able and willing to give to His people. The NASB says raise your hands "to" the sanctuary and the NIV says to raise your hands "in" the sanctuary. The NASB is indicating where the receiving is coming from and the NIV seems to connote the place where the worship is taking place. While a minor issue, it is one which needs to be addressed.

Finally, the psalmist asks the Lord will bless the reader. One of the draw backs of the NIV translation is that it translates the word "Bless" as "Praise" as in verse 1. However, the NASB translates this psalm better in showing that verse 1 and verse 3 both have the word "bless" in. In this case, it is almost a reciprocal relationship: you bless the Lord and He will bless you. Whatever the best translation should be, the point is that there is a benefit of worshipping the Lord, specifically, that He will bless His people.

This is a great way to finish our study of the Psalms of Ascents: We should pray for the continuation of the worship of the Lord, we should have expecation that God will work great things when we engage in worship, and there are great benefits of worshipping the Lord.

As I have tried with all these psalms, I want to find a song sung in today's churches which communicates the same theme as the psalm. For this final hymn, I think Amazing Grace communicates the message of Psalm 134. I think the three points of the outline are represented in reverse order in this psalm. The first three verses of Amazing Grace portrays the benefits of worshipping the Lord. The fourth verse relays the expectation of receiving good things from God. The final verse of Amazing Grace pictures the continuation of worship all throughout time.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

I will have one more post on the Psalms of Ascents to sum up the whole study. Please let me know if any of these have been helpful.