Day two of the class has come and gone. The heartburn from my Chipotle burrito is dying down (totally worth it), and the four of us guys are scrambling to find some talent that one of us possesses that will allow us to defeat the rest of the PC. The chances of us finding something before tomorrow are not very good. But that’s a little beside the point.
Today we focused on the book of Psalms, throwing in a little bit of Samuel at the end (I’ve always had an affinity for Samuel, and I’m still not sure quite why…:-P). By the very nature of the book, the subjects we covered were very eclectic and not terribly organized. There were certain points that stood out to me especially, though, that I’ll touch on in this post with the same eclecticism that I heard them in.
1) The Psalms are rooted in time and space history. This is a fact that we can often miss, since there’s really no story (like in the historical books) or argument (like the epistles) to follow. Studying a psalm in context does not mean looking at the psalms that come before and after, but looking at psalms with similar content. They are very general, rarely giving names, places, or events unless they are symbolic. Thus, we can forget that they were written by a real person in response to real circumstances. This can be critically important to truly understanding the psalm.
2) The entire book of Psalms is meant to be viewed through the lens of Psalm 1. The example he used here was of the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This is the first commandment for a reason: it’s the most important, and you can’t break any of the other commandments without breaking this one. You have to look at the Ten Commandments in light of the first one. In the same way, Psalm 1 needs to define how we look at the 149 other psalms. And what does it say? To pull a quote from the notes, “Psalm 1 indicates that this collection of writings should be studied and learned and reflected upon not merely performed.”
3) Christ is predicted throughout the book of Psalms. Mr. Chick drew our attention to Luke 24:44, where Christ tells his disciples after his resurrection “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Thus, we should be looking at every psalm to see what it tells us about Christ (some good ones to start with: 2, 6, 22, 41, 69, 118).
4) Thanksgiving means “confessing with praise.” This was just a slightly random bit we went over while talking about the genres of the psalms. A thanksgiving psalm (i.e. Psalm 18) acknowledges how God has delivered us from our affliction. Just an interesting thought. That’s how we should all approach thanking God, I guess.
Those are just some of the really interesting bits we studied today (after that point, there was a lot of technical poetry stuff that I slightly tuned out, with permission from Mr. Chick of course ;-) ). And here are two bonuses from the beginning of Samuel:
5) Throughout Judges and Samuel is a theme of women who are more righteous and spiritually upright than their husbands or other men in authority. Who says that the Bible is anti-woman? Just look at Deborah versus Barak (Judges 4), Heber versus Jael (Judges 4), Manoah versus his wife (Judges 13), Jephthah versus his daughter (Judges 11), Elkanah versus Hannah (1 Samuel 1), Phinehas versus his wife (1 Samuel 4), Nabal versus Abigail (1 Samuel 25), etc. The women are able to perceive things spiritually that their husbands are not. I just found this idea interesting.
6) The Philistines refused to let go of their idols. Even after they brought the ark of God into the temple of Dagon and God defeated Dagon (symbolized by the head and hands being taken off of the idol during the night), the Philistines merely turned the event into a new superstition (don’t step on the threshold). And even when they made an almost impossible test to see if it truly was God who was causing so much trouble, and God passed the test with flying colors (obviously he would, see 1 Samuel 6:7-12 for the test), they refused to believe in him, preferring to stay with their false gods. Mr. Chick asked this great question in application: “Has God been tearing down an idol in your heart only to find you embracing it again? Won’t you let it go and see the superiority of Yahweh?” So convicting for me personally, and I hope helpful for you too.
That’s my synopsis of Day 2 here at the PC. Tomorrow we finish Samuel and then go on a special surprise trip (all they would tell us: “Make sure you wear comfortable running shoes”…hmmm). Can’t wait to keep learning!