RELEVANCE OF THE PSALMS
Our Unchanging God

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The Book of Psalms gives tribute to the unchanging nature of God. This is the value and relevance of the Book of Psalms for Christians in the Twentieth-First Century.

I know this will probably make someone laugh, but as a child I thought that the Psalms were a part of the New Testament. It may have been because a church in my hometown in Newbern, Tennessee, was kind enough to make publicly available a little book entitled, the New Testament with Psalms.

THE PSALMS ARE FULFILLED.

Although we know that the Psalms are not part of the covenant of Jesus Christ, nevertheless, we often ignore the fact that they along with the Law and Prophets are fulfilled by Jesus and, hence, are terminated as authority for Christians.

The apostle John wrote that the "Law" came by Moses but grace and truth by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). We know that God added the Prophets to the Law along with the Writings to form the Covenant with Israel. The Writings included David's Psalms and since the Psalms were first in the collection, all were collectively referred to as the Psalms. Jesus taught, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luke 21:32). At the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Afterwards, Jesus said that He "had fulfilled the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).


We know that that the Covenant ("Old" Testament) was concluded and replaced with the New Covenant of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:14-18; Ephesians 2:14-16; Hebrews 9:15-17). "In that he saith, A new [covenant--testament], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13). The main reason was that Jesus supreme sacrifice made the Levitical priesthood's animal sacrifices needed no more (Hebrews 10:14-17). Other reasons include Jesus being the substance or body of the shadows in the Old Testament (Colossians 2:17) and He now is both the High Priest and King.

"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the Law)... For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law" (Hebrews 7:11,12).

If the Law of Moses is done away because it is fulfilled by Jesus, then its companions the Prophets and the Psalms go with it. It is easily understandable that the Psalms would be "done away" as authority because it was tied to the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle and temple sacrifices. Moses is given credit for writing the 90th Psalm and possibly the 91st one. The writer Solomon of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon may have written some of the Psalms (72, 127?). Psalms 120-124, 130 and 132 are designated the "Psalms of Ascent" which is a reference to "going up to the Temple."i The designation "the sons of Korah", including Asaph, are attached to 25 or more of the Psalms (e.g. Psalms 42-49; 50; 62; 72ff), and are understood to be remnants of Levites who did not perish in the rebellion.

        Psalms 135: 20 gives a command to the "house of Levi": "Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD."

The following Psalms depend on the Law's "temple", "holy place" or "tabernacle" authorized through Moses: Psalms 5:7; 15:1; 27:4, 6; 29:9; 46:4; 48:9; 65:4; 68:29; 76:2; 78:60; 79:1; and 138:2. These Psalms mention the virtue of offerings: "of blood" (16:4); "burnt sacrifices" (16:4; 20:3; 50:8; 51:19; 66:13, 15; 107:22; 141:2); and "incense" (66:15; 141:2). There is a mention of the altar (of either temple or tabernacle) in Psalms 26:6; 43:4; 84:3; and 118:27. Finally, there are Psalms that authorize dancers and singers with instruments of music (Psalms 68:25; 87:7; 149:3; 150:4). The last were authorized through the prophets, including the prophet David, who commanded them to perform at the temple during the sacrifices and offerings.

"And the priests killed them (sacrifices), and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar... And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for [so was] the commandment of the LORD by his prophets" (2 Chronicles 29:24, 25). The singers are also authorized according to verses 28 and 30. The Temple is the only place that God authorized the Levitical singers with instruments of music to be used. The conservative synagogues NEVER used the singers with the instruments because such was never authorized by God. To use them would have been adding to the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2) by taking the singers away from the Temple.


Someone may argue that since Christians are authorized to sing "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:17; Colossians 3:16) that the Psalms are reconfirmed and authorized to be be instructive in Truth. Rather, the word psalms as used there is psalmosG5568 and is basically defined by Strong's as [any] "psalm, song of praise, the Hebrew book of Psalms."ii Thayer's Greek Lexicon says that it means that its origin is "a striking, twanging" and in the NT's Ephesians and Colossians it is "hence, a pious song." It adds that "in 1 Corinthians 14:26 it is used for one who has it in his heart to sing or recite a song of the sort." It does not mean that one is commanded to sing one of David's songs in the Old Testament.

How are the Psalms relevant to Christians? Would it not be in the same way that the rest of the Old Testament is relevant?

1. It gives us written historical examples of how God deals with mankind, especially supposedly children of God. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition (nouthesiaG3559, Mickelson: '1. calling attention to; 2. (by implication) mild rebuke or warning'), upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"(1 Corinthians 10:11,12). This is a confirmation of God's unchanging nature. God's unchanging justice is relevant to us. God's historical example of David, his repentance, and Solomon's complete apostasy along with the nation can warn of us in disobeying our God.

2. The apostle tells us that the Psalms were included in what was written historically for our "learning" (didaskaliaG1319, Strong's definition: "instruction"). In what way? The Psalms give us hope for our patience (hupomoneG5281, Mickelson's definition, "cheerful endurance, constancy") and comfort (paraklesisG3874, KJV's uses: "comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty"). Further, it is for the Christian's "hope" (elpisG1680, Mickelson: "expectation; confidence"). "For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, 'The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me' [quoted from Psalm 69:9]. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:3,4).

3. The apostles quoted the Psalms to prove Jesus as the promised Messiah. So, could we not use the prophecies as proof of our Faith? "For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16 is quoted in Acts 2:25-27).

The Psalms have the same value for us as Proverbs and Job and Song of Solomon but we ought not to think that it is a New Testament revelation or a part of the New Covenant for authorizing the worship and service that Jesus predicted to the woman at the well. "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:21,23). Jesus was referring to the Levitical sacrificial system of worship when He predicted the end of worship at Jerusalem. The worship in Psalms is no longer valid. However, the Psalms have value in reminding us of the unchanging nature of God.



Gaylon West

"THROW OUT THE LIFELINE"

BibleStudyLessons.net

ihttp://blog.spu.edu/lectio/going-up-to-the-temple-what-shall-we-sing-on-the-way/. Accessed 7/29/2014.

ii http://biblehub.com/greek/5568.htm.

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