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Exploring the Psalms
Psalms Home
Why Are They Unique?
How Should We Use Them?
The Power of the Paraphrase
Getting Started
More About Getting Started
Coupling With Prayer
Additional Help
Going Deeper
More Going Deeper
More Going Deeper II
Then What?
Psalms Categorized

 Exploring the Psalms (cont'd)

More About Getting started

Looking back
If you actively keep a journal, you already know the value of coming back to what you have written at a later date to see how God has worked and to be able to evaluate the ways in which you may or may not have grown in certain areas. The personal paraphrase is not a journal, although it includes some aspects of that activity. But it is a record of your reaction to His truth at that point in your life, and you will look at it later with interest as your life has entered a new phase. In the process you will undoubtedly find new reason to thank and praise God for the ways He has worked and moved in your circumstances.

Multiple readings  
When we have properly prepared our hearts for His truth, we are ready to interact with the words themselves. Rarely will one or even two readings begin to enable me to see beyond the surface. But how can one keep reading the same text over and over without it just numbing the mind? A good part of it is identifying with the author, as described below. Part, also, is searching out the movement of the text. What is the flow of thought, as the psalm progresses? Is there movement from pain and struggle to praise? If so, what were the elements that indicated that progression of thought? What other development of thought or theme is occurring in these verses? Are there words or phrases that are used more than once? If so, are they used for emphasis or contrast? These are the kind of questions that help you to get into the meaning of the text.

Author identification

In a sense we have to use our minds in reading the Psalms as we do other literature we are seeking to understand. When we read the personal expression of another personís heart, we instinctively know that to understand the full meaning of what they have written, we need to read with the express intent of putting ourselves in the writerís position, inasmuch as that is possible. What were the emotions of the writer that are expressed, to be sure, but what additional tinges of anguish or joy are merely hinted at until I have entered into his thinking and followed his thoughts to the end? What background on the psalmist helps me to make better sense of what he is saying and why? What is the particular struggle or trial he was facing that caused him to pen these words? For example, eight of the Psalms came from the hand of David while he was fleeing from murderous Saul (34, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63, and 142). Recognizing this fact brings us into his feelings and thoughts and can help to bring out additional meaning from the words. When you feel lost and abandoned, surrounded on every side by problems with no help or relief in sight, these Psalms can be vehicles to bring those needs to a God Who will deal bountifully with you (142:7). Some rich treasures are waiting to be uncovered as we allow the Spirit to carry us into the experience being expressed by the words we are reading.

 Finding time
Your first reaction to the idea of paraphrasing may be that you simply donít have the time. I would suggest not to reject it on that basis, but to look for a period Ė perhaps  once a week Ė when you can spend more undistracted time (30 minutes or so)  to explore the treasures Godís Word has for you. Once you have started paraphrasing a Psalm, you may find that you can continue it using shorter periods during the week, and still be able to glean truths you can carry into your day. The entire idea of paraphrasing may seem foreign and difficult to you, so give yourself at least a month to get used to the process. Donít get discouraged if you donít seem to quickly feel you are reaching the treasures placed in the Psalms for you. 

Finding the Psalm for your Need
In addition to delving into the Psalms as a part your normal time of Bible study, you may also come to this portion of Godís Word with an acute need, seeking what the Sovereign of the universe would say to you, or the words to use in placing your petition before Him. For those times, the Psalms have been categorized according to a number of felt needs, and placed here. Of course, many psalms address a number of needs and concerns, but I have tried to place each in a category that defines the major thrust of the psalm. You may want to add your favorite Psalms in additional categories that have spoken strongly to you.




Coupling the Psalms With Prayer




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