Thursday, August 31, 2017

Psalms in the Christian Life

It was a joy to attend a Moore Theological College Centre for Christian Living event yesterday.  The event was titled Psalms in the Christian Life. The event was held at St Cuthbert’s Naremburn Anglican Church.  I was pleased to find five other congregants from my local church in the audience.  I also had the company of four from a previous church I attended.

To give you an idea of the event here is the sales pitch from the Centre for Christian Living:

“No book feels more personal than the Psalms, whose 150 songs give us unique words with which to express our joys and our sorrows before God. No book is more theologically rich than the Psalms, which Martin Luther called “a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended”. The goal of this evening is to deepen our appreciation of the Psalms—as poetry, as a book, as a part of Christian Scripture—in order to deepen our experience of the Psalms as a crucial resource for Christian living.”

It would be quite a task for me to do any justice to reviewing the event in a short blog post - a huge amount was packed into the night.  The presenter, Moore College Old Testament lecturer Rev Dr Andrew Shead covered a significant amount of data.  Andrew's hands darted across two whiteboards and eyes were rushing from handout to artwork to overhead screen to whiteboard.  I am left to identify with some highlights.  I’ve kept myself to six highlights to concisely convey the night’s depth:

  • The Book of Psalms is itself a compilation of five books.  The books have common features and are each largely based on a single theme.  It is incorrect to think of the Psalms as solely the work of David and Solomon’s time as there also is Psalms of Moses.
  • There is some evidence that the Psalms were compiled from earlier sets.
  • Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 both play critical roles in establishing the setting and the readership of the whole of the 150 Psalms.
  • There are Messianic references throughout the Psalms.  There are clear identification of two members of the Trinity (God and Jesus).  This is thematic for me with my interest in preaching Christ in the Old Testament (refer this sermon on 2 Kings 7 or this on Zechariah 3),
  • Andrew had structured some interactive elements into the night – they helped illustrated how a reader is to go about meditating on the Psalms.  I most appreciated how we are best to approach the Psalms through each and all of song, art and detailed literary study. (I have tried some of the latter as evidenced through this link), and,
  • The Psalms have an interesting quality in that the cycle of lament to praise that is evident in the pattern of the whole book is often evidenced within each Psalm.

We are blessed in Sydney to be immersed in intelligent and deep Biblical thought.  It was a joy to attend with fellow brothers and sisters to share God’s word.  Andrew has left me with a huge amount to unpack!

(And, they put on a great supper with strong coffee!)


Note: all links good as at 31 August 2017

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