“There are some who have little regard for the Old Testament. They think of it as a book that was given to the Jewish people only and is now out of date, containing only stories of past times. . . . But Christ says in John 5, ‘Search the Scriptures, for it is they that bear witness to me.’ . . . [T]he Scriptures of the Old Testament are not to be despised but diligently read. . . . Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings and think of the Scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find that divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling cloths and the manger in which Christ lies. . . . Simple and lowly are these swaddling cloths, but dear is the treasure, Christ, who lies in them.”
Martin Luther, written in his preface to the Old Testament in 1523
Although many of the Psalms were written early in ancient Israel’s life, the composition of the book we know as Psalms was Post-Exilic (539BCE). This means it is a book compiled BY and FOR a people living and returning from exile.
…a people estranged from their homes
…defeated by unjust powers
…a people who have lost everything
…cut-off from their God, identity, and purpose
Psalms are the songs and prayers of the people. It’s worship book for the formation and nourishment of hope and faith in desperate times. But not hope in some general sense… storied hope. Hope rooted in the storied promise of the representative sent by God to rescue his people from exile… one to deal with the evil and injustice in the world and restore creation: The Messiah. Thus, the Psalms were seen as ABOUT or BY the Messiah (Savior/King).
Jesus himself taught that all Scripture was about him (Luke 24:44-45), and quoted from the Psalms most frequently.
When you read a psalm, where do you imagine Jesus signing and praying that psalm?