The Psalms as Poetry and Worship

Have you ever wondered about the value of poetry? Is it for everyone, or only for certain literary types? Does it have any lasting significance?

The Biblical Psalms should put all those questions to rest. Poetry is an integral part of the Bible, and should be valued by every Christian.

Book 1 – Psalms 1-41
Book 2 – Psalms 42-72
Book 3 – Psalms 73-89
Book 4 – Psalms 90-106
Book 5 – Psalms 107-150

There are 5 books of Psalms within the Psalter, and each book end with a doxology.
Further, there are many different types of Psalms, like a hymnbook: seasonal, Christmas, Easter, occasions of life.
Don’t read all the Psalms as if they were the same. Take note that the different types of Psalms have a standard structure, in addition to the parallelism of Hebrew poetry. These are more then mere words thrown on paper. They are art.

Psalm of Praise
Ps. 33 – 29 – 135 – 147
1. introduction/call to worship – usually addressed to musicians or worshipping community
2. reasons why praise is being uttered – lists things that make God trustworthy, praiseworthy
3. conclusion – intro may be repeated, or inference may be drawn

Thanksgiving Song
Praise is rooted in who God is and what He does generally in the world.
Giving thanks is a response to something specific that God does for us, an answered prayer. Ps. 116
1. affirmation of love and thanks
2. reasons for such thanks
3. time of need recalled
4. petition recalled
5. thanks
6. renewal of vow

Lament (complaint)
A heartfelt cry in the middle of a crisis. Often rooted in individual crisis.
Also communal lament (famine, death).
1. address to God followed by a cry for help, Ps. 22
2. actual complaint
3. supplication (moving request), Ps. 19
4. expression of trust
5. additional argument
6. promise to offer praise
7. sign of confidence

Laments of the individual are the most common of all Psalms. If worship is balanced, there will be a lot of crying going on. We should be human in worship, expressing all emotions. So, with the Psalms as foundation, what do you think? Does your personal worship and the corporate worship within your church spend any time lamenting? Or do we just primarily sing songs of praise and thanksgiving? And if so, is that Biblical worship?