The biggest book of the Bible is the Psalms. You would be hard pressed to find a book in the Bible that speaks so clearly to what it means to be a human being. The Psalms are packed with an incredible breadth of emotion. It’s a book full of the real circumstances that you and I find ourselves in from the time we’re born to the day we die. Many have the impression that the Psalms are all about praising and worshiping God. Yes, there’s so much of that! But there’s much more that goes on in the book of books.
The Psalms are comprised of major sections, or books. The section breaks are Book I Ps.1-41, Book II Ps.42-72, Book III Ps.73-89, Book IV Ps.90-106, Book V Ps.107-150. Beyond that, David is not the only one to pen the Psalms. Rather, there are many other writers and they are Moses, Asaph, sons of Korah, Solomon, Ethan, Heman, and many who bear no author’s name. It would do us well to be reminded that the Psalms did not take just one lifetime but many many lifetimes to complete. Scholars tell us that it took approximately 1,000 years for the Psalms to be penned throughout Old Testament history.
There are a total of seven genres of Psalms. They are psalms of lament, thanksgiving, enthronement, pilgrimage, royal, imprecatory, and wisdom.
Old Testament scholar and theologian, Walter Bruggemann points out something that I’ve found very helpful in recent days. The Psalms basically depict three experiences we face as human beings in relation to God and he describes them as psalms of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation (Spirituality of the Psalms, http://www.amazon.com/Spirituality-Psalms-Facets-Walter-Brueggemann/dp/0800634500).
Psalms of orientation speak of things like creation, wisdom, and the favor of God. An example would be Psalm 8 - “I look up at Your heavens, shaped by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set firm – what are human beings that you spare a thought for them, or the child of Adam that you care for him? (v.3-4, NJB)” In this Psalm we see David totally oriented, thinking clearly, and full of worship and wonder. He not only knows who his maker is, he knows the maker himself, and his maker knows him well. He is at peace in this beautiful world knowing that he’s not just part of creation in general, but that he uniquely belongs to God. He’s humbled and brought to wonder and worship. David is genuinely impressed with God. Have you ever felt that way? Where were you? On a retreat? In your living room? Last Christmas? Yesterday? 5 years ago? How did you feel then?
To read the rest of Pastor Alex's post, visit his website at http://www.alxegesis.com/ and see how disorientation and reorientation are found within the Psalms.