The Psalms – Wisdom Psalms

This week we are going to read through a selection of the Wisdom Psalms. The Wisdom literature of the Bible (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach) are existential works about the Divine and our relationship with the Divine.  These books are not so much concerned with rules to be followed, like those found in the Torah, but with developing a deeper understanding of the mind of God. More importantly, however, wisdom literature in general, and these psalms we will look at more specifically, teach us what it means to live a full life in Christ.  As background to Thursday’s discussion, please read the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, chapter eight of Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms, and Bonhoeffer’s chapter on “Life.”

The psalms we will discuss are Psalms 1, 37, 49, and 139.  Psalms 1 and 39 are similar to Proverbs in that these two psalms contrast the way of the righteous versus the way of the wicked. (e.g. Prov. 2:32-35). Psalm 49 reflects the teachings of Ecclesiastes with its emphasis on the meaninglessness of the fruits of this world and our common end of death. This psalm will quote Ecclesiastes 2:14-19 and 3:19-20. Finally, Psalm 139, like Job, contemplates the incomprehensibility of divine wisdom and seeks to put us, like Job, in our appropriate place. Job’s conclusion in Job 42:1-3 that we can neither escape from nor comprehend God’s Wisdom is quoted in this psalm.

As you read through these four psalms, think about the Wisdom of God, and how it is reflected, contemplated, and brought forth in these four psalms. Also, when God’s Wisdom became Incarnate, he went up on the mountain, he sat down, and he began to teach. Therefore, seek and find those verses in these Psalms that are likewise found within the Sermon on the Mount, and be aware that both the Psalms and the Sermon begin with the very same word: “Beatus.”

Dinner is at 6, Compline is at 7:50. Hope to you here.

Teaching Notes – Wisdom Psalms
Sermon on Mount – Matt 5-7
     Bonhoeffer “Life”; Lewis, Ch. 7
     Psalms 1, 37, 49, 1399

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