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Studies in the Psalms

Temple Lyre
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This page is devoted to in-depth studies of the various topics or themes in the Psalms. It does not present a commentary or excerpts from a commentary.

Our former pastor from Chicago, Don Elifson, once said that the older he got, the more he loved reading the Psalms. I feel the same way. Next to the prophets, the Psalms are now my favorite section of the Bible. However, not all Psalms are like the 23rd Psalm. Some difficult topics arise when one studies the Psalms. Addressing some of them is the purpose of this page.

The first of these studies represents perhaps the most difficult topic found in the Psalms: how the Psalm writers, especially David, viewed death (e.g., Ps. 6:5). Did David and other Old Testament saints believe in life after death, or did they think that death was the end of existence? In the second study, another difficult question is addressed: how to explain the various imprecatory Psalms (e.g., Psalm 137, especially vv. 8-9)? These studies should prove invaluable to anyone who loves reading the Psalms.

Author

Link

Description

William Binnie

"The Doctrine of the Future Life"

What did David mean when he wrote this:

For in death there is no remembrance of You;
In the grave who will give You thanks? (Ps. 6:5)

Did David believe that death was the end of existence? This careful and scholarly study of the problem is the best I have read.

Source: a chapter taken from William Binnie, The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and Use (T. Nelson and Sons, 1870).

William Binnie

"The Imprecations"

Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 587 B.C. The writer of Psalm 137 begins, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion." However, he concludes the psalm this way:

O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your infants against the rock. (vv. 8-9)

This is not the only psalm with imprecations, although they are not always directed against Babylon. David some 350 years earlier wrote a number of imprecatory psalms. How are we to explain these attitudes? Again, the discussion by Dr. Binnie is excellent.

Source: a chapter taken from William Binnie, The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and Use (T. Nelson and Sons, 1870).

Howard Osgood

"Dashing the Little Ones Against the Rocks"

Here is another article dealing with the imprecatory Psalms, this one limited to an in-depth study of Psalm 137.

Source: The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1903.

William Binnie

"That There are Predictions Respecting Our Lord in the Psalms"

Note: this link takes you to our sister Web site, Messiah Studies. For the background on William Binnie, see this page.

This item and the following two items deal with the Messianic Psalms. The target audience of these chapters is Christian, but many Christians today do not know the meaning of the title Christ or Christos, the Greek word used in the New Testament. It means anointed and is equivalent to the Hebrew word Mashiach or Messiah. For example, what Peter really states in his famous confession is this: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). However, following the New Testament, Dr. Binnie generally uses the Greek word Christ (Christos) instead of its Hebrew equivalent, Messiah (Mashiach). Therefore, it is important to note that when he refers to "Christ" or "the Christ," he means "Messiah" or "the Messiah."

Source: a chapter taken from William Binnie, The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and Use (T. Nelson and Sons, 1870). In this reprint, the text of the 1870 (first) edition has not been modified, except that long paragraphs have been divided.

William Binnie

"A Classification of the Messianic Psalms"

Note: this link takes you to our sister Web site, Messiah Studies. For the background on William Binnie, see this page.

Source: a chapter taken from William Binnie, The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and Use (T. Nelson and Sons, 1870). In this reprint, the text of the 1870 (first) edition has not been modified, except that long paragraphs have been divided.

William Binnie

"The Christology of the Psalms"

Note: this link takes you to our sister Web site, Messiah Studies. For the background on William Binnie, see this page.

Special Note: This chapter contains some statements from which I would differ. Dr. Binnie is a Presbyterian scholar and therefore sometimes refers to "the Church" where I would refer to ethnic, national Israel. I have inserted footnotes giving my view on two such occasions. However, there remains much good material in this chapter, so we have included it.

Source: a chapter taken from William Binnie, The Psalms: Their History, Teachings, and Use (T. Nelson and Sons, 1870). In this reprint, the text of the 1870 (first) edition has not been modified, except that long paragraphs have been divided.

Stone Edition of Tanach

An Introduction to the Psalms

Here we have posted a very special contribution to our "Studies in the Psalms" page. The Stone Edition is a translation of the Old Testament (Tanach) with notes on the text similar to "study Bibles" in Christian circles. In addition, each book in the Old Testament has an introduction. Also, each individual Psalm also has a concise description of its main theme.

I have found the introduction and many of these thematic summaries to be edifying and uplifting, representing real insight. Thus we have reproduced them here.

Of course, since this edition of the Old Testament represents Orthodox Judaism, there are a few references in the general introduction that would be unfamiliar to most Christians. These we have replaced with ellipses. Also, among the theme summaries for the individual Psalms, two of them included points on which Jewish and Christian theology would differ. We did not post these.

For another short, concise summary of each Psalm's theme, see our John Calvin page.

Source: The Stone Edition of Tanach ed. Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The ArtScroll Series (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1996).

See our other pages on the Psalms:

Interactive Quiz on Psalms
Excerpts from Calvin's Commentaries
Selected Expositions by Alexander Maclaren
Excerpts from Charles Bridges' Commentary on Psalm 119
Two of Spurgeon's Sermons
Numerous Excerpts from Spurgeon's Treasury of David


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