As I was asking the Lord what kind of Bible study goes on in heaven, he gave me an interesting overview of a study of the Psalms, as it might happen in heaven.
This Bible study has a main teacher and several guest speakers, some of whom were actually present when the psalms were written and some of whom wrote psalms themselves.
First: Consider several things. Who wrote the psalm? When? Why? What was going on at the time in his life, in his family, and in his world?
Second: What was the psalm when it was first written? Was it poetry? A letter to someone with instruction, information, correction, encouragement? What? Was it praise and thanksgiving to God? A prayer asking God for something? A complaint? By definition, a psalm was something to be sung while accompanied by a musical instrument; thus it was a song. But when first written, it may have been private, not meant to be a song at all. It may have been adapted into song form later. Hmmm.
Third: Why was it collected into the Book of Psalms? What made it unique, memorable, collectable, useful for worship? Because that is what the Psalms were used for, as a part of worship. But surely there were multitudes of other writings that were not included. What made this particular one special?
Fourth: Why is it in the order that it is? First, or twenty-third, or one hundredth… Is there some logical explanation for it? Well, since God is orderly and the Holy Spirit inspired scripture, I am certain He had a reason for the placement of any particular psalm into the collection. Meditate on that, but of course, it will require understanding what comes before and after this specific psalm.
Fifth: How was it actually used over the centuries? By God’s people in the Old Testament days and by God’s people in the New Testament days, then by God’s people throughout the centuries since the days of Jesus? Was it considered important in any special way? Used on special occasions?
Sixth: Why is it important to the 21st century Christian? In other words, why should any of us pay attention to this psalm today? Is it relevant in any way to the 21st century Christian world? World view? Me personally? According to other scriptures, ALL scripture is valuable. Therefore it is valuable to me.
Seventh: What should I do about what the psalm says? Should I obey it? Agree with it? Pray about it? Memorize it? Tell it to other people? Sing it to the Lord myself? Save it for later?
After all of that, I got out the Bible and read the First Psalm, thinking about some of the above. I realize that now, here in 2007, I can’t answer some of those questions. But I can meditate on them, realize that the psalms were written by real people, with real families, real jobs, real problems, and a real relationship with Father God. They have a reason for being in the Bible and a reason why I should read, study, enjoy and use them to aid in my own worship.