The Book Of Life by Allan Turner


The Book Of Life

The book of life has stirred the curiosity of many students of the Bible. In particular, the scriptures say that...
  • Disciples of Christ have their names recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20b).
  • Members of the church have their names written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23a).
  • Paul’s fellow servants had their names written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3).
Thus, most of those in the religious world believe the book of life is the heavenly register of the redeemed. This certainly seems to be the correct interpretation in view of Revelation 20:15, which says that on the day of judgment anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.
Up to this point, most of our denominational friends would agree with us concerning these comments. But, at this point, a clear cut dichotomy occurs. Many believe that once one’s name is enrolled in the book of life nothing can happen that would cause it to be erased. This belief is commonly referred to as “Once saved, always saved.”

One reason this teaching has arisen is because our religious friends have failed to deal properly with Revelation 3:5. A quotation from a discussion under the heading “Book of Life” in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (Moody Press, Vol. 2, page 1038) illustrates this point:

Rev. 3:5 also speaks of being blotted out of the book of life, meaning here the list of the saved. Some say that such a blotting out is possible and implied. But that a saved person could thus lose his salvation is felt by many to contradict those passages which teach the security of the believer in Christ. Consequently, these interpreters have taken one of the following approaches: (1) Rev. 3:5 does not explicitly say that anyone’s name will be blotted out; (2) this register originally has everyone’s name on it, but when a person finally rejects Christ his name is blotted out; (3) the book of life in Rev. 3:5 is the register of profession from which names will be erased, whereas the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27 referring to the Lamb’s book of life though not specifically so called in every verse) contains only the names of genuine believers from which no names can be erased.
It is apparent that many of our denominational friends will believe whatever they want to believe in spite of what the Bible says. Consider now, carefully, the passage under discussion:

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; these things said He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember, therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shatl not know the hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).
However, true to form, the Westminister Confession of Faith, which was written in 1643, says:

They whom God has accepted can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace: but shall certainly preserve therein to the end and be eternally saved (Henry Bitterson, Documents of the Christian Church, London: Oxford University Press, 1963, page 347).
Similarly, Sam Morris, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Stamford, Texas, said it this way:

We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! ...[A]ll the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger. ...The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul (Morris, A Discussion Which Involves a Subject Pertinent to All Men, pages 1-2).

Now, if a man can understand anything, then he ought to understand that Revelation 3:5 teaches, by necessary inference, that the Lord can, and will, blot out the names of all who will not overcome through His blood. Therefore, we appeal to our denominational friends to seriously consider the problem of harmonizing the passage under consideration with the teaching of “Once saved, always saved.” Considering this difficulty, we encourage you to study the various warnings to the saints found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 12:15; 2 Peter 1:9; 2 Peter 3:14; Galatians 5:4; James 5:19; 1 Timothy 5:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Peter 2:15-22; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Revelation 22:19; and Matthew 25:30. We then encourage you to “know the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Genuine Biblical Compassion By Allan Turner


Genuine Biblical Compassion

By Allan Turner

Contrary to what we generally think, it is not sinful, in and of itself, to be a beggar. The Greek word translated “beggar” is ptochos, and it conveys the idea of being “destitute, helpless, and powerless.” The beggar Lazarus was all these things (cf. Luke 16:19-25). Nevertheless, when he died, he was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom (Luke 16:22). God has always made special provision for the poor (cf. Exodus 23:11; Leviticus 19:9-10; Acts 20:35; Mark 14:7; Matthew 25:35-36; Romans 12:13). Consequently, in order to be pleasing to God, we must never lose sight of our obligation to the powerless, helpless, and destitute of this world. In fact, where we will spend an eternity depends upon a proper understanding of our obligation to these people (cf. Matthew 25:31-46).
Agape, the love the Lord requires of all His followers, is a self-sacrificing love that is not fulfilled apart from action (cf. 1 John 3:18). It is our contention that genuine biblical compassion is an integral part of this kind of love. Jesus, the sinless explicator of agape, demonstrated His genuine compassion on many occasions (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Luke 7:12-15). Consequently, as God's love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12), we will be “moved with compassion” by the various difficulties we see our neighbors experiencing. A good example of this is recorded in the book of Hebrews, where the writer informs us that his brethren's compassionate response to his “chains” compelled them to experience the “spoiling” or “plundering” of their goods for his sake (Hebrews 10:34). What this tells us, then, is that, materialistically speaking, compassion is “quite dangerous.” Allowing one's goods to be spoiled and plundered for “pie in the sky, by and by,” as the intellectually sophisticated or “wise and prudent” (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:19) are fond of saying, is considered to be “utter foolishness!” Yes, to the carnally minded, the Lord's people often appear to be “fools” (1 Corinthians 4:10). Even so,  it is as fools of Christ that we happily demonstrate to a lost and dying world “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
In 1 John 3:18, the apostle adds yet another factor to love. Not only must we love in deed, but we must also love in truth. Love without truth is sweet, syrupy, and weak as sugar water. But, on the other hand, truth without love can often be quite destructive (cf. Ephesians 4:15). Therefore, compassion, in order to be authentic, functions somewhere between these two hurtful extremes. True compassion exhibits the love of the truth and the truth of love that are characteristics of New Testament Christianity.
Unfortunately, too many Christians tend to either naively think that compassion is always sugary sweet and never condemnatory or cynically believe that no one is a worthy candidate of it. The thesis of this article is that authentic biblical compassion is neither naive nor cynical. It is, instead, the glue that holds Christianity together, allowing it to be gentle and tender without deteriorating into trite sentimentality, and unpretentiously sacrificial without being melodramatic.
Compassion is not, as some seem to think, a public relations campaign. Neither is it simply an emotion. It is, instead, a divinely inspired actioncompelled by 1) knowledge, 2) moral outrage, and 3) the capacity to truly identify with the object of one's compassion. We believe that if these three elements were a part of current sentiment, then the modern welfare state, as we have come to know it, would not exist.
Those who pride themselves as combatants in the so-called “war on poverty” want us to believe that the difficulties people face today are somehow unique and much more complicated and perverse than at any other time in history. Although many in our society have been indoctrinated with this lie, it simply is not true! 17th-, 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century America had it all: alcoholism, drug addiction, illegitimacy, crime, unemployment, spousal and child abuse, social upheaval, and grinding poverty. What then was and is the difference? Simply this: In the past, those involved in charity were individuals who had a frank, clear-headed, compassionate, but unsentimental, view of human nature. They believed there were some genuinely poor who were truly deserving of charity (i.e., compassion/love). These were beggarly (i.e., destitute, helpless, and powerless) through no fault of their own. On the other hand, these charitable individuals and organizations knew that much poverty resulted when individuals, of their own free wills, chose destructive paths (alcohol and vice); that such erring individuals should and could, with God's help, change course; that all able to work must do so (2 Thessalonians 3:10); that those who helped should freely give of their time and love; and that money alone, given indiscriminately, was poisonously destructive. Today, cut off from its religious moorings, the modern state sees itself as the engine of progress and the vehicle of man's salvation. The one-by-one, individual-by-individual, person-to-person work of the past is seen as too slow of a process. Relief needs to be universal and immediate. Disagreeing with the idea that most poverty is the resu lt of vice, freely chosen, the state believes people are basically good and that the elimination of poverty is possible through the “redistribution of wealth.” Furthermore, the modern state seems convinced that the sooner charitable work is rid of the bothersome claptrap of religion, the better everyone will be. As a result, true compassion is quite rare.
Currently, compassion is defined by the welfare elites as how much money can be spent each year on the “war on poverty.” To categorize certain individuals as “deserving” or “not deserving” is to “wrongly blame the victims,” we are told. Now, after thirty years' experience with this modernsystem, are the poor—entitled as they are to a government welfare check, food stamps, rent subsidies, and a host of other program benefits from the state bureaucracy—better off? Has poverty been eliminated? Has it even been reduced? Isn't it time, then, to return to genuine biblical compassion?
As we mentioned earlier, the three elements that comprise genuine compassion are demonstrated by the life of Jesus Christ, who was the complete and final revelation of God to man. We, therefore, turn our attention to an examination of these elements as they were manifested by our Lord.

True Understanding
The first element of true compassion is an understanding of the real world that is neither naive nor cynical. According to the Bible, Jesus “knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). What this means is that Jesus did not deal with people from a position of ignorance. He knew that not only was man made in the image of God and, therefore, of great value, but he also knew that man was sin-sick and fallen. But, understanding the general imperfections of a real world marred by sin, and knowing mankind's basic sinfulness, he was still open to others, reaching out to the lost all around Him.
Unlike Jesus, we, unfortunately, often try to interact with others from one or the other of two different extremes. The first extreme is naiveté. The naive man is both gullible and exploitable. He attempts to bestow his compassion on all men, believing that he will, in turn, be treated well by all who are the objects of his compassion. Eventually he learns that he is often, if not always, being taken for a ride or taken for granted. With his self-esteem hurt, and thinking himself to have ample reason, he swings to the opposite extreme of cynicism, which always expects the lowest of motives in the best of actions. Now, although it is true that we do not possess perfect understanding, as Jesus did, knowing who was trustworthy and who was not, we, like Him, can learn to trust our Father, not men, and remain open to those around us without being either naive or cynical.
When Jesus saw the multitude, “He was moved with compassion for them because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Understanding their real need, the Lord Himself, the Chief Shepherd, the One who had come to seek and save the lost, was “moved with compassion.” He was further moved to inform His disciples that: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Like Jesus, we, His disciples, must be compelled by compassion to seek and save the lost of a sin-sick, dying world. But this is not all! True compassion is born of real understanding. It knows the worth of men made in the image of God. It knows that man, contrary to the excellent specimen he could have been, is fallen and sin-sick. Consequently, the most excellent examples of true compassion will not always be well received. It's a fact that sinful men frequently do not act or react well. Those on whom Jesus had compassion crucified Him. Why should we expect anything less? Why should we allow the evil behavior of sin-sick men to prevent us from bestowing on them an informed compassion that seeks for them that which they have not yet understood they need? If God in the flesh had not so acted, all of us would be without any hope in this world. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Moral Outrage
A second element of true compassion is genuine moral outrage. In fact, spagkhnozomai, the Greek word translated “compassion” in Matthew 9:36, conveys the idea of “a yearning in the gut or bowels.” In other words, what the Lord was feeling for the multitude involved a visceral reaction (i.e., He was “moved with compassion”). Actually, this word has been translated too weakly in our modern Bibles. Spagkhnozomai is a very strong word conveying a powerful emotional feeling. It does more than describe plain pity or common compassion; it describes an emotion that moves one to the very depth of his being. This word describes the compassion the forgiving King had on the servant who was unable to pay his debt (Matthew 18:27), of the compassion that compelled the father to run to his prodigal son to welcome him home (Lu ke 15:20), and of the compassion of the Samaritan who rescued the wounded traveler on the Jericho road (Luke 10:33). As we have already mentioned, it is the same word used to describe the Lord's reaction upon seeing the multitude in the wilderness as being sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). It is the same word used to describe His reaction to the leper who came to Him for healing (Mark 1:41), the two blind men who cried out for mercy (Matthew 20:34), and the bereaved widow of Nain whose son had died (Luke 7:13). In each case we are confronted with the deep visceral reaction that is always characteristic of authentic compassion.
Spagkhnozomai also hints of a controlled, mature anger at the forces at work in a fallen world that seem to entrap men and women in the most unfortunate of circumstances. We must remember that Jesus, who was Himself the Creator (Colossians 1:16), originally created this world to be a paradise; but man, by sinning, messed everything up. Consequently, this world is definitely not what the Lord intended it to be, and when the One who knew what it ought to be experienced in the flesh how things really are, He was naturally and honestly moved with deep moral outrage at the devastating effect man's sinfulness was having on the nature of things. This is all  made even clearer when one considers another word used to describe Jesus. This word is embrimaomai, and is used twice by John to describe Jesus' reaction to the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:33, 38). The NKJV says, “He groaned in the spirit” (verse 33) and “groaning in Himself” (verse 38). Normally, these verses are interpreted in view of verse 35, which says, “Jesus wept.” Of course, in lieu of what was happening, tears were certainly appropriate. Jesus was touched emotionally by the real sorrow of Martha and Mary, but there is much more here than mere sympathy. Embrimaomai, according to Vine, means “to have indignation: to snort with anger.” Standing at the tomb of Lazarus, a friend He knows He will soon raise from the dead, Jesus is seized with deep moral outrage and indignation. Why? Because all the order, beauty, harmony, and fulfillment the Lord had created into His creation was now nothing but fractured disorder, raw ugliness, and complete disarray. At this tomb of His friend, God in the flesh came face to face with a death that symbolized the evil, pain, sorrow, suffering, injustice, cruelty, and despair of a world lost in sin. Yes, there can be no doubt that He was moved to tears for His friends, but surely He was also moved by the outrageous abnormality of death. Man was not created to die. He was created, instead, to live. But sin had changed all that. Things are no longer like they ought to be, and Jesus is outraged by it all.
While in the flesh, God's Son experienced genuine moral outrage. It is informative to examine this same characteristic as it was exhibited in the lives of other individuals who are recorded in the Bible. For example, the newly appointed King Saul, before becoming corrupted by his position of power, was a man of principled character. When he heard about the outrageous thing that Nahash, the Ammonite king, had dictated to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead (viz., he would permit them to surrender only if they permitted him to put out their right eyes), Saul became outraged with anger (1 Samuel 11:6). In examining this episode, there can be no mistaking the relationship between the inspiration of God's Spirit and Saul's anger or moral outrage—it was not just God approved, it was God-inspired as well. Later, as Israel's national decadence produced social injustice and inhumanity, the moral outrage of Amos is absolutely searing: “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, `Bring wine, let us drink!'” (Amos 4:1). These ignoble recipients of the prophet's moral outrage were the people who sold the righteous for silver and the poor for a pair of shoes (Amos 2:6). They were the ones who turned justice into gall and righteousness into wormwood (Amos 6:12). They rightly deserved his righteous indignation. For Amos to have reacted any other way, would surely have been sinful!
Furthermore, the Bible teaches us that moral outrage is not something reserved for those in the flesh, but God, who is a Spirit, experiences outrage at man's injustices to his fellow man and that there was no one who felt compelled to set these injustices right. In Isaiah 59:15b-16a, the prophet says: “The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor.” The Hebrew word translated “wondered” in this passage conveys the idea of being stupefied and outraged. Therefore, genuine outrage is not just the reaction of one who is hard-pressed by the difficulties of living in a fallen world; but God Himself experiences it. And so should the Christian. In the midst of the pain, cruelty, violence, and injustice of this world, we ought to be moved with moral outrage and compelled, with God's help, to do something!
God, by virtue of the immutability of His moral character, is eternally opposed to evil and is, in turn, outraged by its dreadful effect. Consequently, the Christian, who is called upon to be like God (1 Peter 1:15-1 6), can never be neutral toward morality without betraying his faith. Once again, we see this truth demonstrated in the earthly life of the Son of God. Jesus, who came to do His Father's will, and, in doing so, is our perfect example, was so outraged by the effect of sin in regard to His Father's house, that He, on two different occasions, drove the money changers from the Temple (John 2:14-17; Luke 19:45-46). On seeing Jesus in action, His disciples, who were not as critical as some of His disciples might be today, remembered that it had been written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up” (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9). Without this same moral indignation, the outrage that wells up in the gut as a result of morally outrageous acts, the Christian remains a non-combatant in the moral battles currently raging on this planet between what is right and what is wrong. It is, indeed, unfortunate that many who call themselves Christians today no longer know how to be morally outraged. What spiritual life remains in them is being strangled by a society that has cut itself off from God. Ignorant of God's word and lacking discernment, these have not realized they are actually choking on the truths that they, themselves, have betrayed. They have seen the moral issues of our day reduced to political platforms and have ignorantly thought themselves free to choose one over another. What this generation desperately needs is the authentic compassion that is exhibited by knowledgeable Christians who are genuinely outraged at the horrendous injustices taking place all around them. Even so, in order for it to be authentic biblical compassion, there is yet another element that must be added.

The final element necessary for authentic compassion is the capacity to truly identify with the object of one's compassionThis is sometimes calledbonding. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the Latin root of “compassion” and the Greek root of “sympathy” are parallel in that they both refer to deep feelings “with” or “alongside” another. Genuine compassion, then, is able to identify, empathize, or bond with the object of its compassion. This is exactly what God did in Jesus of Nazareth. As God became man and dwelt among us, He so identified with us that He actually bore our grief and carried upon Himself our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4a). In fact, in Jesus, God so clearly bonded with those He came to save that some who saw Him hanging on the cross mistakenly thought he was just a man who was being “smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4b). Nevertheless, Jesus was never just a man. In the person of Jesus, He was both fully man and fully God. When he suffered “with,” “alongside,” and “for” man, He did so not just as a man, but as God. When He experienced death, He did so not just as a man, but as God (Acts 20:28). Even so, Jesus was fully man and, as such, was in all points “tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). This means that He was no Pentagon chief far removed from the battlefield. Instead, He experienced the warfare firsthand. He shared the foxholes, He knew the risks, and He even bore the scars of the battle in His body. Therefore, the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10) and great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) is totally able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) and aid those of us who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).

Re: The God With Wounds
No other God has wounds. It was the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, et al., God in the flesh, who laid down His life for us so that we, through obedience to Him, might have eternal life. The cry that pierced the darkness of history's blackest day, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?,” was the voice not just of a man, but of Immanuel, or “God with us.” We do not fully understand it, but, by faith, we know it's true. In fact, we are emboldened to trust Jesus like we do because of His willingness to come into this world and so fully identify with us. In the life of our magnificent Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we see all the warm compassion of a God who has so unashamedly proved His love for us.

Touched by our Lord's compassion and moved by His love, we “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  Touched by His compassion and moved by His love,  we are determined to “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind [we are ready to] esteem others better than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3). Touched by His compassion and moved by His love, we are willing to “ look out not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Finally, touched by His compassion and moved by His love, we reach out to the weak, the hurting, and the downtrodden  with compassion and love. 

"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 19 - God's Two Books by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                      Psalm 19 - God's Two Books


1) To note two ways God has made Himself known to mankind

2) To be impressed with the value of God's revealed Will, i.e., the
   Word of God

3) To be reminded of the need for sanctification, and not just


This well-known psalm of David might be appropriately titled "God's Two
Books", for in it we are told how God has expressed Himself in two
different ways.

Through the book of creation, the glory and handiwork of God are made
known as one observes the heavens and firmament.  Day and night
"speaks" to the whole world if people will just listen (cf. Ro 1:20).
As an illustration of the pervasive nature of this revelation, the sun
passes through the heavens from one end to the other, like a joyful
bridegroom or a strong runner.  There is no place hidden from its heat

While one might learn of God's power and the fact of His deity through
nature, we learn of His Will for man only through His book of
revelation, i.e., the Word of God.  Using different synonyms for God's
Word (law, testimony, statutes, etc.), David extols its virtue and
impact upon the soul and well-being of man.  He praises it value as
worth more than much gold, and sweeter than honey (7-11).

The psalm ends with a prayer that is a proper response of one who has
been influenced by both "books". Acknowledging the challenge of knowing
one's own secret sins (cf. Ps 40:12; Lev 5:15-17), and the danger of
sinning presumptuously (cf. Num 15:30-31; Deut 17:12-13), David prays
for cleansing and help that he might be blameless and innocent.  But he
desires more than just forgiveness, David prays that his future words
and thoughts will always be acceptable in the sight of the Lord, the
source of his strength and redemption (12-14).



      1. The heavens declare God's glory
      2. The firmaments shows His handwork
      3. The days and nights speak of His knowledge
         a. Such speech is universal
         b. Its distribution is worldwide

      1. The skies are like a tabernacle for the sun
      2. The sun passes through the skies
         a. Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber
         b. Like a strong man rejoices in anticipation of his race
      3. The effect of the sun is universal
         a. From one end of heaven to the other
         b. Nothing is hidden from its heat


      1. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul
      2. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple
      3. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart
      4. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes
      5. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever
      6. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous forever

      1. More desirable than much fine gold
      2. Sweeter than honey and the honeycomb
      3. By them God's servant is warned
      4. Keeping them has great reward


      1. The difficulty of understanding (knowing) one's errors
      2. Plea for cleansing from secret faults (sins of which one is
         not aware)

      1. Plea to be kept from the domination of presumptuous sins (sins
         of which one is aware)
      2. Then one shall be blameless and innocent of great

      1. That the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart be
         acceptable in His sight
      2. Addressed to the Lord, the source of his strength and his


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The glory of God in creation (1-6)
   - The gift of God in revelation (7-11)
   - The grace of God in sanctification (12-14)

2) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David

3) What is the character or style of this psalm?
   - Praise and prayer

4) What declares God's glory, and shows His handiwork? (1)
   - The heavens and the firmament (skies)

5) What speaks knowledge about God's glory? (2)
   - The passing of day and night

6) Where is this knowledge of God's glory heard? (3-4)
   - Through all the earth; there is no place it cannot be known

7) What provides an illustration of the pervasive reach of God's glory?
   - The circuit of the sun from one end of heaven to the other

8) What six synonyms are used for the Word of God? (7-9)
   - The law of the Lord
   - The testimony of the Lord
   - The statutes of the Lord
   - The commandment of the Lord
   - The fear of the Lord
   - The judgments of the Lord

9) What six attributes and benefits describe the Word of God? (7-9)
   - Perfect, converting the soul
   - Sure, making wise the simple
   - Right, rejoicing the heart
   - Pure, enlightening the eyes
   - Clean, enduring forever
   - True and righteous altogether

10) How does David compare the value of God's Word? (10)
   - More desirable than much fine gold
   - Sweeter than the honey and honeycomb

11) What two things are true of the words of God? (11)
   - By them the servant of God is warned
   - Keeping them offers great reward

12) What concern does David have regarding "secret faults"? (12)
   - Who can understand (know) them?
   - To be cleansed from them

13) For what does he pray concerning "presumptuous sins"? (13)
   - To be kept back from them
   - To not be dominated by them

14) What is David's prayer as he closes the psalm? (14)
   - That the words of his mouth and the mediation of his heart be
     acceptable in God's sight

15) How does David view God? (14)
   - As his strength and his redeemer

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 16 - David's Golden Secret by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                    Psalm 16 - David's Golden Secret


1) To observe the use and possible meaning of the word "Michtam"

2) To consider David's trust in the Lord and his preference for God's

3) To note the Messianic prophecy of the resurrection of Christ


The heading describes this psalm as A Michtam of David.  The meaning of
"Michtam" is uncertain, though rabbinical sources guess it to mean "a
golden poem" (ISBE).  Another suggestion is that it means "a mystery
poem" (Leopold).  The psalm does reveal David's trust in life and hope
in death, and so I have called it "David's Golden Secret".

David's secret was that he placed his trust in the LORD (Jehovah), along
with delighting in His saints on the earth (God's people).  He found the
LORD to be a good inheritance, and sought to bless Him for His counsel.
Having set the LORD always before him and at his right hand, David was
confident he would not be moved (1-8).

David's secret was also that he had great joy and hope for the future,
even for his flesh (body).  The basis for his confidence appears at
first that he (David) would not be left in Sheol (Hades, the realm of
the dead) nor would he see corruption.   Yet we learn from Peter and
Paul that David was prophesying of the resurrection of the Messiah (cf.
Ac 2:25-31; 13:33-37).  Of course, Jesus' resurrection ensures that one
day we (and David!) will also be raised from the dead (cf. 1Co 15:
20-23), which serves as the basis for our hope (1Pe 1:3).  The psalm
ends with a statement of confidence in the Lord's future provision and
the blessings in His presence (9-11).



      1. An introductory plea...
         a. For God to preserve him
         b. For he has placed his trust in God
      2. The LORD is his Lord...
         a. His goodness is nothing apart from Him
         b. He delights in His saints, the excellent ones on the earth
      3. Those who hasten after another god...
         a. Their sorrows will be multiplied
         b. He will not offer their drink offerings of blood
         c. He will not take up their names on his lips

      1. His inheritance and his cup
      2. Who maintains his lot...
         a. The lines have fallen in pleasant places
         b. He has a good inheritance

      1. Whom he will bless for His counsel, and the instruction of his
         heart in the night seasons
      2. Whom he has set before him at his right hand, so he shall not
         be moved


      1. His heart is glad, his glory rejoices
      2. His flesh also rests in hope

      1. God will not leave his soul in Sheol
      2. God will not allow His Holy One to see corruption

      1. God will show him the paths of life
      2. In His presence is fullness of joy
      3. At His right hand are pleasures forevermore


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - His refuge in life (1-8)
   - His hope in death (9-11)

2) What are the possible meanings of the word "Michtam"?
   -"golden poem" or "mystery poem"

3) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David; confirmed by Peter in Ac 2:25-31 and Paul in Ac 13:33-37

4) In whom did David place his trust? (1)
   - The LORD

5) In whom did David find great delight? (3)
   - The saints who are on the earth

6) What is happens to those who hasten after another god? (4)
   - Their sorrows are multiplied

7) What did David consider as the portion of his inheritance? (5)
   - The LORD

8) Why does David bless the Lord? (7)
   - For giving him counsel
   - For giving him a heart that instructs him in the night seasons

9) What had David done?  What was the result? (8)
   - He set the LORD always before him, at his right hand
   - He will not be moved

10) What was David's attitude regarding the future? (9)
   - His heart was glad and his glory rejoices; his flesh also rests in

11) To whom is verse 10 applied to by Peter in Acts 2?
   - To Jesus Christ, as proof of His resurrection

12) What will be found in God's presence and at His right hand? (11)
   - Fullness of joy; pleasures forevermore

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 15 - The Marks Of A True Worshiper by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

               Psalm 15 - The Marks Of A True Worshiper


1) To note the character of those whom God would have worship Him

2) To be reminded of basic principles of righteous conduct required by


The heading attributes this psalm to David, and may have been written
in anticipation of the ark's restoration to Israel and establishment of
public worship in Jerusalem (cf. 2Sa 6:1-19).  It is didactic in
nature, and is entitled by Leupold as "The Marks Of A True Worshiper."

The psalm begins with two questions addressed to Jehovah (LORD),
perhaps prompted by the incident involving Uzzah touching the ark when
it was being transported improperly on the back of a cart (cf. 2 Sam
6:3-7; Num 4:5-15; 7:9).  Since no one could actually take up residence
in the tabernacle, the inquiry could be paraphrased "Whom will You
accept when he comes to Your house, O Lord?" (1).

The answer provided begins with a general description of a true
worshiper as one who walks uprightly and works righteousness.  More
specifically, the true worshiper is one who does not lie (cf. Ep 4:25),
backbite with his tongue (cf. Jm 4:11), do evil to his neighbor, or
take up a reproach against his friend (cf. Ps 101:5-8).  He despises a
vile person, but honors those who fear the Lord (cf. Ps 16:3;
119:63).  His upright character is illustrated by his unwillingness to
go back on his word even if he has sworn to his own detriment (e.g.,
Josh 9:18-20; Judg 11:35).  He also will not loan money at interest (cf.
Exo 22:25; Deut 23:19,20), or take bribes (cf. Exo 23:8) against the
innocent (2-5a).

The psalm ends with a declaration that one who does these things shall
never be moved.  This is because he is privileged to draw near to God
(cf. Ps 16:8), and is reminiscent of the blessed man of Psalms 1 who
prospers in every thing he does (5b).






      1. He who walks uprightly
      2. He who works righteousness

      1. He who speaks truth in his heart
      2. He who does not...
         a. Backbite with his tongue
         b. Do evil to his neighbor
         c. Take up a reproach against his friend
      3. In whose eyes...
         a. A vile person is despised
         b. One who fears the Lord is honored
      4. He who swears to his own hurt and does not change
      5. He who does not...
         a. Put out his money at usury (interest)
         b. Take a bribe against the innocent
      -- He who does these things shall never be moved


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The question posed (1)
   - The answer provided (2-5)

2) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David

3) What is the character or style of this psalm?
   - Didactic (designed to teach or instruct)

4) What question(s) does the psalmist ask at the beginning? (1)
   - Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
   - Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

5) What is the answer in general terms? (2a)
   - He who walks uprightly and works righteousness

6) What is the answer in more specific terms? (2b-5a)
   - He who speaks the truth in his heart
   - He who does not backbite with his tongue
   - He who does no evil to his neighbor
   - He who does not take up a reproach against his friend
   - He who despises a vile person
   - He who honors those who fear the Lord
   - He who swears to his own hurt and does not change
   - He who does not put out his money at usury
   - He who does not take a bribe against the innocent

7) What is said of one who does all these things? (5b)
   - He shall never be moved

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 8 - The Song Of The Astronomer by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                 Psalm 8 - The Song Of The Astronomer


1) To consider a beautiful example of a hymn of praise

2) To observe the use and possible meaning of the word "Gittith"

3) To note man's dominion over the earth when created by God, but also
   that he lost it and has now been regained by Jesus Christ


The heading attributes this psalm to David, with instructions to the
Chief Musician to be sung "upon Gittith."  This may mean "after the
tune of the treaders of the winepress" (Leupold) and refer to the
joyful nature in which the workers sung.  The psalm is certainly a hymn
of delight, as are others with this word in the heading (Ps 81, 84).  I
second Spurgeon's suggestion that this psalm can be called "The Song Of
The Astronomer" as it seems to have been prompted while contemplating
the night skies.

It begins praising God for His excellent name (i.e. character) and His
glory in the earth and above the heavens.  God's glory is illustrated
in the way He is able to use "babes" and "infants" (i.e., the frailest
and weakest of men, e.g., Mt 11:25; 1Co 1:27) to silence the enemy and
the avenger (1-2).

David's praise appears to have been sparked by comparing the work of
God in the heavens with the seeming insignificance of man on the earth.
Amazed that God would even be mindful of man, David noted that God
created man a little lower than the angels, and even set man over the
works of His hands, including the animals, birds, and fish (3-8).  Of
course, after the fall of man that dominion was lost, and has since
been regained by Jesus Christ following His resurrection and ascension
to heaven (cf. He 2:5-9; Mt 28:19; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22).

The psalm ends the way it began, praising the excellence of God's name
in all the earth, which is the proper response of His creation,
especially man (9).



      1. His name (character) exalted in all the earth
      2. His glory set above the heavens

      1. Able to ordain strength from the mouths of babes and infants
      2. And thereby silence the enemy and the avenger


      1. In contrast to the heavens, the moon and stars
      2. Amazed that God would consider man, even less care for him

      1. By virtue of his creation by God
         a. Made a little lower than the angels
         b. Crowned with glory and honor
      2. By virtue of his place in creation
         a. Given dominion over the works of God
         b. All things placed under his feet
            1) Sheep, oxen, the beasts of the field
            2) The birds of the air
            3) The fish that pass through the paths of the sea

      1. To praise God!
      2. For His excellent Name in all the earth!


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - God's majesty in creation (1-2)
   - Man's dignity over creation (3-9)

2) Who is the author of this psalm?
   - David

3) For what does the Psalmist praise God? (1)
   - The excellence of His name (character) in all the earth
   - His glory set above the heavens

4) How has God chosen to silence the enemy and the avenger? (2)
   - By working His strength (power) through "babes" and "infants"

5) What prompted the Psalmist's amazement over God's concern for man?
   - His contemplation of the night skies

6) How was man exalted when God created him? (5-6)
   - God made him a little lower than the angels
   - God crowned him with glory and honor
   - God gave him dominion over the works of His hands
   - God put all things under his feet

7) What things were placed under man's feet? (7-8)
   - All sheep and oxen
   - The beasts of the field
   - The birds of the air
   - The fish that pass through the paths of the sea

8) Has man maintained his dominion over the earth? (cf. He 2:5-8)
   - No

9) Who now has all authority over heaven and earth? (cf. He 2:9; Mt
   28:19; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22)
   - Jesus Christ, who became man and for the suffering of death has 
     been crowned with glory and honor; He is now head over all things

10) Contemplating God's majesty and man's dignity, how does David end
    his psalm? (9)
   - With praise for the excellence of God's name (character) in all 
     the earth

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 3 - A Morning Prayer For God's Protection by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

            Psalm 3 - A Morning Prayer For God's Protection


1) To note how historical events often served as the impetus for the 
   writing of particular psalms

2) To observe the use and possible meaning of the word "Selah"

3) To consider how David trusted in the Lord to deliver him from his 


The heading attributes this psalm to David, composed as he was fleeing
from his son Absalom (cf. 2Sa 15-18).  It is commonly called "a
morning hymn" (cf. v. 5) in which the psalmist prays for God's

David addresses his complaint to the Lord, how there be many who
trouble him.  They even taunt him by saying there is no help from God
for him (cf. the curses of Shimei, 2Sa 16:5-8). In this psalm (and in
many others) we find the word "Selah".   The exact meaning  is unknown,
but it may have served the purpose of providing some musical notation. 
It seems to be inserted where a pause is desirable for the singer or
reader of the psalm to reflect upon the thought or statement just made

Following his complaint is an expression of comfort received from the
Lord in the past.  Such consolation prompts him to view the Lord as a
shield and his glory, the One who is able to lift up his head.  Indeed,
the Lord has heard his earlier cry and enabled him to sleep and awake. 
This gives him renewed courage to face his many enemies (cf. 2 Sam
18:7), even though they numbered in the thousands (3-6).

As he starts the new day, he yet again calls upon the Lord to save him,
even as He has done in the past.  His "morning hymn" ends with the
acknowledgment of God as the source of salvation and blessing for His
people (7-8).






      1. His shield and glory
      2. The One who lifts his head

      1. Heard his cry from His holy hill
      2. Sustained him during sleep
      3. Given him courage against ten thousands of men

III. DAVID'S CRY (3:7-8)

      1. To arise and save him
      2. As God has done in the past
         a. Having struck his enemies on the cheekbone
         b. Having broken the teeth of the ungodly

      1. Salvation belongs to God
      2. His blessing is upon His people


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - David's complaint (1-2)
   - David's comfort (3-6)
   - David's cry (7-8)

2) Who is the author of this psalm, and what occasion led to its
   - David
   - When he was fleeing from Absalom

3) What was David's complaint? (1)
   - Many have risen against him, to trouble him

4) What were people saying about David?  Who in particular said such
   things? (2)
   - There is no help for him from God
   - Shimei, son of Gera, of the house of Saul (cf. 2Sa 16:5-8)

5) What is the meaning of the word "Selah"? (2)
   - It is likely a musical notation
   - Perhaps inserted where a pause is desirable for the singer or
     reader of the psalm to reflect upon the thought or statement just 
     made (Leupold)

6) How did David view God? (3)
   - As a shield, his glory, the One who lifts up his head

7) What did David do, and what was God's response? (4)
   - David cried to the Lord with his voice
   - God heard him from His holy hill

8) What was David able to do because of God's sustaining him? (5)
   - To lay down and sleep, and then to awake

9) What else did God make possible for David? (6)
   - Not to be afraid, even when ten thousands of people surrounded
     against him

10) For what does David pray? (7)
   - To arise and save him

11) What had God done for David in the past? (7)
   - Struck his enemies on the cheekbone
   - Broken the teeth of the ungodly

13) What does David attribute to the Lord? (8)
   - Salvation and blessing to His people

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 2 - The Ultimate Victory Of The Messiah by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

             Psalm 2 - The Ultimate Victory Of The Messiah


1) To note the Messianic nature of this psalm

2) To consider its fulfillment as expounded by Jesus and His apostles 
   in the New Testament

3) To take comfort in knowing that the Messiah has ultimate control 
   over world affairs


This psalm is Messianic in nature, with its theme being "The Ultimate
Victory Of The Lord's Anointed."  It is quoted by the apostles and
early church in their prayer for help against persecution (cf. Ac 4:24-
30), in which they applied it to the efforts of Pontius Pilate along
with Gentiles and those of Israel who crucified Christ.  From this
reference in Acts we also learn that David was the author.

The psalm is divided into four sections (or strophes), in each of which
there is a different voice that speaks.  The first strophe begins with
the psalmist observing the efforts of the nations and their leaders to
resist the Lord and His Anointed.  They declare their desire to break
away from the cords that bind them (1-3).  The second strophe depicts
the Lord in heaven as laughing in derision over their futile efforts.
In righteous anger He declares that despite their resistance He has
installed His King (i.e., His Anointed One) on Zion, His holy hill (4-

In the third stanza or strophe, the Anointed One speaks, in which He
declares the decree of the Lord.  He is God's begotten Son, who upon
request is given the nations and ends of the earth as an inheritance
which He will rule with a rod of iron (7-9).  From Jesus and His
apostles, we learn that this rule began when He ascended to heaven and
sat down at the right hand of God (cf. Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22;
Re 1:5; 2:26-27).

The psalm ends with the fourth strophe containing the psalmist's
counsel of what the leaders of the nations should do:  Worship the Lord
with reverence, and do homage to the Son lest they incur His righteous
anger.  For all who put their trust in the Anointed One, they shall be
blessed (10-12).  



      1. Why do the nations rage?
      2. Why do the people plot a vain thing?

      1. Against the Lord and His Anointed...
         a. The kings of the earth set themselves
         b. The rulers take counsel together
      2. Against the Lord and His Anointed they say...
         a. "Let us break Their bonds in pieces"
         b. "(Let us) cast away Their cords from us"


      1. He who sits in the heaven shall laugh
      2. The Lord shall hold them in deep derision

   B. THE LORD'S REPLY (5-6)
      1. He shall speak to them in His wrath
      2. He will distress them in His deep displeasure
      3. He will proclaim:  "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill Of 


      1. "You are My Son"
      2. "Today I have begotten You"

      1. The extent of His rule
         a. "The nations for Your inheritance"
         b. "The ends of the earth for Your possession"
      2. The power of His rule
         a. "You shall break them with a rod of iron"
         b. "You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel"


      1. Be wise, be instructed
      2. Serve the LORD with fear
      3. Rejoice with trembling

   B. TO THEM AND ALL (12)
      1. Kiss the Son lest He be angry
         a. And you perish [in] the way
         b. When His wrath is kindled but a little.
      2. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. 


1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The nations' resistance (1-3)
   - The Lord's rejoinder (4-6)
   - The Messiah's response (7-9)
   - The psalmist's reproach (10-12)

2) Against whom are the kings and rulers taking counsel? (2)
   - The Lord and His Anointed

3) What are the kings and rulers saying? (3)
   - Let us break Their bonds in pieces, and cast away Their cords

4) What reaction does this prompt from the Lord in heaven? (4-5)
   - Laughter and derision
   - Wrath and displeasure

5) What will the Lord say to these kings and rulers? (6)
   - I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion

6) How will the Anointed One (i.e., the Messiah) respond? (7)
   - He will declare the decree spoken to Him by the Lord (God)

7) Who is the Anointed One? (7)
   - God's begotten Son

8) As applied by Paul, what "day" was the Messiah "begotten" by God? 
   (7; cf. Ac 13:33)
   - The day of His resurrection from the dead

9) What did the Lord promise His Anointed One? (8)
   - The nations and ends of the earth for His inheritance and 

10) According to Jesus and His apostles, has He been given this 
    authority?  If so, when?  (cf. Mt 28:18; Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22;
    Re 1:5; 2:26-27)
   - Yes; when He ascended to heaven and set down at the right hand of 

11) What will He do to the nations with this authority? (9; cf. Re 2:
   - Break them with a rod of iron
   - Dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel

12) What wisdom and instruction does the psalmist give to kings and
    judges? (10-12)
   - Serve the Lord with fear
   - Rejoice with trembling
   - Kiss (do homage to) the Son
   - Lest He be angry and you perish when His wrath is kindled

13) What of those who put their trust in the Son? (12)
   - They will be blessed

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Psalm 1 - The Truly Happy Man by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                    Psalm 1 - The Truly Happy Man


1) To examine the blessedness of the righteous, in stark contrast to
   the desperation of the wicked

2) To note both the negative and positive elements that lead to the
   truly happy life

3) To note four examples of parallelism that are indicative of Hebrew


The first psalm, didactic in style, serves as an appropriate preface to
the entire collection of psalms.  Its theme can be described as "The
Truly Happy Man" as it depicts the blessedness, or happiness, of the
righteous man in contrast to the wicked.

The blessedness of the righteous man is described first from a negative
perspective, in what he will not do.  With the aid of stair-like
progressive parallelism, the truly happy man is depicted as not
allowing himself to be in the presence or under the influence of the
wicked.  Instead, he finds delight in meditating day and night on the
law of the Lord.  His blessedness is pictured as a healthy, fruitful
tree, nourished by rivers of water.  Whatever he does, he prospers (1-

The wicked, in stark contrast, are not so blessed.  They are like chaff
driven by the wind.  In the judgment, they shall not be able to stand. 
Nor shall they be blessed to be in the congregation of the righteous

The psalm ends with a contrast between the two "ways."  The way of the
righteous is known (blessed, providentially cared for) by the Lord.
The way of the ungodly shall perish, like a trail leading into a swamp
that eventually disappears (6).



      1. Described from a negative point of view
         a. Walks not in the counsel of the ungodly 
         b. Nor stands in the path of sinners - Pr 4:14-15
         c. Nor sits in the seat of the scornful - Ps 26:4-5
      2. Described from a positive perspective
         a. His delight is in the law of the Lord - Ps 40:8; 119: 
            47,48; Jer 15:16
         b. In God's law he meditates day and night - Ps 119:97-99

      1. Like a tree planted by rivers of water - Ps 92:12-15; Jer 17: 
         a. That brings forth fruit in its season
         b. Whose leaf shall not wither
      2. Whatever he does shall prosper - Josh 1:7-8


      1. The ungodly are not so (lit., "Not so, are the ungodly!")
      2. They are like the chaff which the wind drives away - Job 21:

      1. The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment
      2. The sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the 





1) What are the main points of this psalm?
   - The blessedness of the righteous man (1-3)
   - The desperation of the wicked (4-5)
   - A final contrast between their two ways (6)

2) What is the theme of this psalm?
   - The truly happy man

3) What is the style of this psalm?
   - Didactic, i.e., designed to teach or instruct

4) What does the blessed man not do, as described in this psalm? (1)
   - Does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly
   - Does not stand in the path of sinners
   - Does not sit in the seat of the scornful

5) What example of parallelism, or thought rhyme, do we find in verse
   - Stair-like progressive parallelism

6) What is the source of delight for the one who is blessed? (2)
   - The law of the Lord

7) What does the blessed man do to experience such delight? (2)
   - Meditates in the law of the Lord day and night

8) What example of parallelism, or thought rhyme, do we find in verse
   - Synonymous parallelism

9) What will such a blessed person be like? (3)
   - A tree planted by rivers of water
   - That brings forth fruit in its season, and whose leaf shall not

10) What example of parallelism, or thought rhyme, do we find in verse
   - Synthetic parallelism

11) What else is said about this blessed man? (3)
   - Whatever he does shall prosper

12) What are the ungodly like? (4)
   - The chaff driven away by the wind

13) What will not happen to the ungodly and sinners? (5)
   - They shall not stand in the judgment
   - They shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous

14) How are the righteous and the wicked contrasted at the end of this
    psalm? (6)
   - The Lord knows the way of the righteous
   - The way of the wicked shall perish

15) What example of parallelism, or thought rhyme, do we find in verse
   - Antithetical parallelism

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE BOOK OF PSALMS" Introduction To The Psalms by Mark Copeland

                         "THE BOOK OF PSALMS"

                      Introduction To The Psalms

The value of the Old Testament to the Christian is expressed several
times in the New Testament:

   For whatever things were written before were written for our
   learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the
   Scriptures might have hope.  (Ro 15:4)

   Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they
   were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages
   have come.  (1Co 10:11)

Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of the Old Testament scriptures
he had learned as a child:

   But you must continue in the things which you have learned and
   been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and
   that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are
   able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in 
   Christ Jesus.

   All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
   for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
   righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly 
   equipped for every good work.  (2Ti 3:14-17)

Of the books of the Old Testament, this is especially true of the book
of Psalms!  The value of the Psalms for the Christian is so great, we
should do what we can to become more familiar with them.  Allow me to

Why Study The Psalms?

As Christians, we are commanded to utilize the Psalms:

   Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
   singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,  (Ep 5:19)

   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,
   teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and 
   spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
                                                         (Col 3:16)

   Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful?
   Let him sing psalms.  (Jm 5:13)

Thus the Psalms are useful for singing praises to God.  They are also
useful for teaching and confirming that Jesus is the Christ or Messiah.
Note the use Jesus made of them (Lk 24:44-47), and also Peter's use of
them in his first gospel sermon (Ac 2:25-28,34-35).

It has been said that in the Psalms one finds "expressed the eager
yearning and longing for God's presence".  It certainly contains
"prayers and songs of joyous trust and praise."  Indeed, every emotion
known to man is expressed in beautiful and inspired terms (e.g., joy,
anger, praise, repentance, trust, even doubt).  Filled with some
emotion for which you cannot find the words to express it?  It is
likely you will find it expressed in the book of Psalms!

I would therefore suggest that the Psalms are capable of serving as:

   * The Christian's "hymnal" to assist us in our praise to God

   * The Christian's "prayer book" in which we learn how to approach
     God in prayer

   * The Christian's "book of evidences" to strengthen our faith in
     Jesus Christ

   * The Christian's "training guide" for living holy and righteous
     lives before God 

The Aim Of This Study

It is my prayer that as we study this book we will accomplish the
following goals:

Become more familiar with Old Testament poetry - This is essential to
getting more out the Psalms, and important if we are to avoid
misinterpreting them

Develop an appreciation and working knowledge of the Psalms - So one
may utilize them for his or her own comfort and encouragement, and in
counseling and comforting others

Glean a clearer picture of God's character - To better understand His
love, mercy and deliverance towards the righteous, but also His wrath
and judgment against the wicked

Learn more of the Christ in prophecy - To note descriptions of His
suffering and glorious reign found in the Psalms, some of which are not
found elsewhere in Scripture

Consider examples of fulfilled prophecies - To see in fulfilled
prophecy irrefutable arguments for the inspiration of the Scriptures,
and for the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah

These are just a few of the reasons why the Book of Psalms should be
read and studied by every Christian, and hopefully this study will help
to meet these objectives.

Characteristics Of Hebrew Poetry

Before we get into the background of the Psalms themselves, it may
prove beneficial to consider some things about Hebrew poetry.  Not only
will this help to better understand the nature of the Psalms, but it
can also assist in proper interpretation of this portion of Scripture.

One of the things that makes Hebrew poetry different is...

1) The Use Of "Thought Rhyme"

Also known as "parallelism", thought rhyme involves arranging thoughts
in relation to each other.  This is done without a concern as to
whether certain words rhyme with each other (as found in most modern
poetry).  In the Psalms, we find several different kinds of thought

Synonymous parallelism - The thought of first line is repeated in the
second line, expressed in different words for the sake of emphasis.  A
good example is found in Ps 24:2...

              For He has founded it upon the seas,
              And established it upon the waters. (same idea, reworded)

Antithetical parallelism - The truth presented in one line is
strengthened by a contrasting statement in the next line.  Consider
this example from Ps 1:6...

              For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
              But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (note the

Synthetic parallelism - The first and second lines bear some definite
relation to each other (such as cause and effect, or proposition and
conclusion).  A good example is Ps 119:11...

              Your word I have hidden in my heart, (cause)
              That I might not sin against You!  (effect)

Progressive parallelism - There are several varieties of this form, the
most common being:

   Stair-like - Composed of several lines, each providing a complete
   element of the aggregate or composite thought.  Notice Ps 1:1...

              Blessed is the man...
              Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
              Nor stands in the path of sinners,
              Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; (note the
   Climatic - Here the principal idea in the first line is repeated and
   expanded to complete the thought.  An example is found in Ps 29:1...

              Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones (give what?)
              Give unto the LORD glory and strength.  (the answer)

Introverted parallelism - The first line is closely related in thought
to the fourth, and the second to the third.  For example, consider Psa

              Because he has set his love upon Me, (note line 4)
              therefore I will deliver him; (note line 3)
              I will set him on high, (note line 2)
              because he has known My name. (note line 1)

It is often fascinating to note how creative the Hebrew poets were as
they composed their poetry using "thought rhyme" rather than "word
rhyme".  In some cases it even helps in interpreting difficult
expressions or phrases.  Another characteristic of Hebrew poetry is...

2) The Lack Of Poetic Rhythm

Much modern poetry has standard measures of identifiable rhythm, as in
the poem "Mary Had A Little Lamb."  With the Hebrews, however, the art
of poetic rhythm was of secondary consideration.  Some suggest that it
is not likely that the Hebrew poets had standard measures, worked out
and carefully defined.  Again, their focus was on "thought rhyme," not
"word rhyme."

Finally, an important characteristic of Hebrew poetry is...

3) The Use Of Figurative Expression

The Psalms are filled with figurative expressions, and as such it is
important to keep certain principles of interpretation in mind...

a) The figure must be accepted and dealt with as a figure of speech,
   not as a literal statement

For example, in Ps 18:31, the Lord is called "a rock."  He is like a
rock, but not one literally.  In Ps 51:4, David says "Against You, You
only, have I sinned."  Yet he is confessing his sin of adultery with
Bathsheba, in which he sinned not only against the Lord, but against
his wife, against Uriah, and many others.  David was speaking
figuratively for the sake of expressing his deep grief in sinning
against God, and we must allow for figurative expressions including
hyperbole in poetic writings.  One needs to be careful and not develop
doctrinal beliefs  upon what may be figurative expressions not intended
to be taken literally.

b) The figure must be interpreted in light of its meaning in the
   setting in which it was used

For example, in Ps 23:4, we find the well-known phrase:  "the valley
of the shadow of death."  It is not uncommon to hear the phrase applied
at funerals to the act of dying.   In the setting of the psalm,
however, it refers to a treacherous place (such as a steep valley,
where deep shadows can easily cause a misstep resulting in death),
where the guiding hand of a shepherd would be very helpful to sheep to
avoid death.  It is therefore applicable to any time one is in perilous
straits and in need of God's guiding hand.    

Appreciating these characteristics of Hebrew poetry can help the Psalms
become more meaningful, and understanding these characteristics can
also help avoid misinterpreting the Psalms to teach doctrines the
psalmist had no intention of teaching!

Background Material On The Psalms

Having examined some of unique characteristics of Hebrew poetry in
general, let's now focus on the book of Psalms itself...

1) The Origin Of The Word "Psalm"

The Greek word is "psalmos", from the Hebrew word "zmr" meaning "to
pluck"; i.e., taking hold of the strings of an instrument with the
fingers.  It implies that the psalms were originally composed to be
accompanied by a stringed instrument.  "Psalms are songs for the lyre,
and therefore lyric poems in the strictest sense."(Delitzsch, Psalms,
Vol. I, p. 7)  David and others therefore originally wrote the Psalms
to be sung to the accompaniment of the harp.

In New Testament worship, we are told to sing the psalms to the
accompaniment of the heart:

   "...in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
   in your heart to the Lord" (Ep 5:19)

The phrase, "making melody," comes from the Greek word "psallontes"
(literally, plucking the strings of).  Therefore, we are to "pluck the
strings of our heart" as we sing the psalms (i.e., to sing with

2) The History Of The Psalms

The oldest of the Psalms originate from the time of Moses (1400 B.C.). 
We have three psalms penned by Moses:

Exo 15:1-15 - a song of triumph following the crossing of the Red Sea

Deut 32, 33 - a song of exhortation to keep the Law after entering

Ps 90 - a song of meditation, reflection, and prayer

After Moses, the writing of Psalms had its "peaks" and "valleys"...

In David (1000 B.C.), the sacred lyric attained to its full maturity.

With Solomon, the creation of psalms began to decline; this was "the
age of the proverb."  

Only twice after this did the creation of psalms rise to any height,
and then only for a short period:  under Jehoshaphat (875 B.C.) and
again under Hezekiah (725 B.C.).

3) The Authors Of The Psalms

David - Commonly thought to be the author of the book of Psalms, but he
actually wrote only about seventy-three (73), less than half.

Asaph - The music director during the reigns of David and Solomon (1
Chr 16:1-7).  He wrote twelve (12) psalms.

The Sons of Korah - These were Levites who served in the Temple (1 Chr
26:1-19).  They wrote twelve (12) psalms.

Solomon - At least two (2) psalms are attributed to him (Ps 72, 127). 
That he wrote many more is stated in 1Ki 4:29-32.

Moses - As indicated above, he wrote the earliest psalms; one is
included in Psalms (Ps 90).

Heman - Contemporary with David and Asaph, and is known as "the singer"
(1Ch 6:33).  He wrote one psalm (Ps 88) that has been preserved.

Ethan - A companion with Asaph and Heman in the Temple worship (1 Chr
15:19).  He wrote one psalm (Ps 89).

Anonymous - The authorship of forty-eight (48) of the psalms is

4) The Arrangement Of The Psalms

The Psalms were originally collected into five "books", apparently
according to the material found within them...

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)

The Psalms can also be arranged into chief "groups"...

Alphabetic or Acrostic - These psalms have lines which in Hebrew start
with words whose first letters follow a certain pattern.  For example,
in Ps 119 the first eight lines start with words beginning with the
Hebrew letter ALEPH, the second eight lines with words beginning with
BETH, etc.  This may have been done to aid in the memorization of the

Ethical - These psalms teach moral principles.  A good example is Psa

Hallelujah - These are psalms of praise, beginning and/or ending with
"hallelujah" or "praise Jehovah".  Ps 103 is one such example.

Historical - Psalms which review the history of God's dealings with His
people.  A good sample would be Ps 106.

Imprecatory - These psalms invoke God to bring punishment or judgment
upon one's enemies.  Consider Ps 69 as an example.

Messianic - Psalms pertaining to the coming Messiah.  For example, look
at Ps 2 or Ps 110.

Penitential - These are psalms expressing sorrow for sins that have
been committed.  A classic example is David's psalm in Ps 51.

Songs Of Ascent (or Songs Of Degrees) - These psalms were possibly sung
by pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem to observe the feasts.  They are 
grouped together as Ps 120-134.

Suffering - These psalms are cries of those suffering affliction.  Psa
102 is a typical example.

Thanksgiving - Psalms of grateful praise to Jehovah for blessings
received.  For example, take a look at Ps 100.

The various "styles" of the psalms can be described as...

Didactic - Psalms of teaching and instruction (e.g., Ps 1).

Liturgical - Responsive readings, for use in special services (e.g.,
Ps 136).

Meditation - The ancient Hebrews were given to meditation, which spirit
finds expression in many of the psalms (e.g., Ps 119).

Praise and Devotion - Psalms of joyful praise (e.g., Ps 148).

Prayer and Petition - Psalms which were sung in an attitude of prayer
(e.g., Ps 51).

Hopefully, this brief background of the Book Of Psalms will help one
gain a better feel and appreciation for this type of Scripture.  

Review Questions For The Introduction

1) According to Ro 15:4, why was the Old Testament written?
   - For our learning
   - That through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might
     have hope

2) According to 1Co 10:11, why were the events in Old Testament times
   - For our admonition

3) As Paul reminded Timothy, of what value were the Scriptures (Old
   Testament) he had learned as a child? (cf. 2Ti 3:14-15)
   - They were able to make him wise regarding the salvation through
     faith in Christ Jesus

4) What is Scripture profitable for, including the Old Testament? (cf.
   2Ti 3:16-17)
   - Doctrine
   - Reproof
   - Correction
   - Instruction in righteousness
   - To make the man of God complete, thoroughly equipped for every 
     good work

5) What three Scriptures teach Christians to utilize the Psalms?
   - Ep 5:19; Col 3:16; Jm 5:13

6) What are the Psalms capable of serving for the Christian?
   - As the Christian's "hymnal"
   - As the Christian's "prayer book"
   - As the Christian's "book of evidence"
   - As the Christian's "training guide" for living holy and righteous

7) What will be the aim of this study in the Psalms?
   - To become more familiar with Old Testament poetry
   - To develop an appreciation and working knowledge of the Psalms
   - To glean a clearer picture of God's character
   - To learn more of the Christ in prophecy
   - To consider examples of fulfilled prophecies

8) What three characteristics of Hebrew poetry were pointed out in this
   - The use of "thought rhyme"
   - The lack of poetic rhythm
   - The use of figurative expression

9) List the five different types of "parallelism" described in this
   - Synonymous
   - Antithetical
   - Synthetic
   - Progressive
   - Introverted

10) What was the original meaning of the word "psalm"?
   - To pluck

11) In New Testament worship, what is the instrument upon which melody
    is to be played? (cf. Ep 5:19)
   - The heart

12) Who wrote some of the earliest Psalms?
   - Moses

13) When did the writing of Psalms reach its peak?
   - During the time of David

14) List some of the authors who penned the Psalms in our Bible.
   - David (73), Asaph (12), the sons of Korah (12), Solomon (2), Moses
     (1), Heman (1), Ethan (1), anonymous (48)

15) List different "groups" into which the Psalms can be placed.
   - Alphabetic (Acrostic), Ethical, Hallelujah, Historical, 
     Imprecatory, Messianic, Penitential, Songs Of Ascent (Degrees),
     Suffering, Thanksgiving

16) List the different "styles" of the Psalms.
   - Didactic, Liturgical, Meditation, Praise and Devotion, Prayer and

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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