Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Village Psalms Bible Study

Last night I met up with some of the guys from The Village to study the Psalms as I have been doing every Monday for about eight weeks now. The last two times we met, it was at Starbucks in Five Points South…where you can run into some for real characters! We have been sitting at the tables outside because the weather has been so nice and both weeks someone has been walking by and has heard us talking and asked if he could join us. We had a really cool guy, Tony, join us last night. Tony, like our friend from the week before, got really antsy when he saw the Birmingham Police pulling someone over just a few yards from where we were sitting….he didn’t tell us exactly why. What he did tell us was that years ago he would read the Bible every night and fall asleep holding his Bible. He told us that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to be part of a discussion about the Bible but he would try. About an hour in he asked us if we did this every Monday and asked if he could join us next week. As he walked away, Rob asked him how we could be praying for him. He asked us to be praying for his soul to get right with God. So, be praying for Tony. I hope he was blessed in some way by our discussion of the Psalms.

So, what did we actually discuss? This week we got into the categories/genres of the Psalms. They wanted to talk about some of the things I am learning in seminary and that was the first things Mark got into in our Psalms class at Beeson. I wanted to show them 3 main things…what a preacher I am…
1. The importance of realizing categories and how we use them everyday
2. That we cannot understand the categories of the Psalms as easily as we understand the categories we use everyday.
3. How to recognize what category a particular Psalm is in and what to do with that knowledge.

I think my favorite part of the discussion was that right around us there was a great example of what I was teaching (Starbucks, The Original Pancake House, and Surin West). We all understood that if we come downtown at 6:00 am we would only expect to get bacon and eggs at one of those places and we would only expect to get a cup of coffee and a muffin at one of those places. If we went there at 6:00 pm we would only expect two of those places to be open and would only expect to get a meal (a delicious meal covered in curry) at one of those places. Without knowing categories of restaurants, and what category those three restaurants fit into, we would be messed up. My next move was to point out how naturally we understood those categories and tell them that we cannot expect that we know the categories of the Psalms that intuitively.

Then, only having time to analyze one category of Psalms, we discussed praise psalms, particularly looking at Psalm 103. I love the last verse of the Psalm, Psalm 103:22. There he moves from telling all of creation to praise God to telling himself to praise God, which is exactly how he begins. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all preachers preached like this? David admonished himself from the beginning, wasn’t afraid to give that same admonishment to the gathered community (and even all created things), and then said again how he needed to obey the commandment. I find that it is sometimes easy to think of what others should do without realizing my own wandering heart. At the beginning of the day and at the end of the day my focus must be on whether or not MY SOUL is praising the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul!