ESV - 1 Book One Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.
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The Book of Psalms is the most loved and the best known part of the Bible. Individual psalms are popular with people who are not regular Bible readers and also with those who wish to praise the God whom they know and love. They have a universal appeal, translating easily into today’s culture, despite being from so long ago. While most of the Old Testament needs to be understood in the light of the New Testament, most of the Psalms can be used directly. There is a timeless quality to the Psalms, and they can easily be applied to the Christian life. It is no surprise that hymn- writers throughout history have drawn their inspiration from them. The Psalms have been valued throughout the history of the Church. Martin Luther said, ‘In the Psalms we look into the heart of every saint.’ John Calvin said that in the Psalms ‘We look into a mirror and see our own heart.’ A modern commentator put it this way: ‘Every psalm seems to have my name and address on it.’ You see, most people read not the entire Bible, but the Psalms only. It is the most human part of the Old Testament, which everyone can readily identify with. I believe that the Psalms are best read aloud. They can’t be analysed in the way one might read one of Paul’s epistles, focusing on each verse. Indeed, over-analysis of the Psalms serves to destroy their beauty. It is far better to read the whole psalm, meditate on it, let it sink in and, if necessary, repeat the process.
In the Psalms, we have the prayer and praises of God’s people expressed in poetic form. Unlike much Western poetry, Hebrew poetry is not based on rhyme or meter, but on rhythm and parallelism. The poetry of the Bible is marked by rhythm, concentration of meaning, and parallelism (Jenson). This last quality comes out most clearly. Biblical poets stack 2 or 3 phrases that develop the same theme in slightly different ways. The poetic couplets reflect on and illuminate one another.
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