Biblical Studies Old Testament Studies Psalms Wisdom

Approaching a Psalm

Set of two charts summarizing an approach to studying an individual psalm

Two charts cover both the study approach in general (setting, meaning, and significance) and the specific task of classification (typical structure and themes of three kinds of psalms: Laments, Thanksgivings, and Hymns)

Approaching the Study of a Psalm

  • Setting
    1. Original: Pre-temple, First Temple, or Second Temple Period
    2. Compositional: Instruments, tunes, and other musical directions
    3. Anthological: Place within Psalter as a whole, five Books, smaller collections
    4. Ritual/Occasional Liturgical use: festivals, offerings, Sabbaths, coronations, weddings
  • Meaning
    1. Form and structure: Classification by form, its typical elements; variations of theme; actual structure by stanzas
    2. Poetry: Use of parallelism, words, images to evoke emotion, engage psyche; deeper studies of Hebrew words
  • Significance for Jesus and the Church: The reading and explanation of the psalm by Jesus as well as the early and late Church

Approaching the Classification of a Psalm

  • Laments
    • Typical structure
      • Cry of desperation
      • Trust
      • Petition
      • Vow to praise
    • Themes
      • Imprecatory Psalm
      • Confidence Lament
      • Plea of Innocence (justice)
      • Penitential Lament
      • Petitionary Lament
      • Wisdom Lament
  • Thanksgivings (Declarative/Narrative psalms of praise)
    • Typical structure
      • Call to praise
      • Story of deliverance
      • Concluding praise
    • Themes
      • Deliverance Psalm
      • Victory Song (after battle)
      • Wisdom Thanksgiving
  • Hymns (Descriptive psalms of praise)
    • Typical structure
      • General call to praise
      • Praise itself
      • Final call to praise
    • Themes
      • Hymn of Sovereign Majesty (God’s rule; God as Creator)
      • Enthronement Hymn (king/Messiah placed on throne)
      • Hymn of National Deliverance (faithfulness to covenant; realized when Messiah comes — but distinguish from the enthronement hymn)
      • War Song (before battle)
      • Pilgrim Hymn (Zion — as city or king, Ascent)
      • Wisdom Hymn

PDF ver. 2014-03-01
2 pp. 4.67 x 7.08″ .05 mb

PDF version history:
2014-03-01: Updated SKU; combined into set
2009-10-05: New individual releases

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