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Bible Study on Psalms; Office of Psalmist in Scripture
Topic Started: Oct 8 2008, 11:04 AM (1,804 Views)
sonworshiper
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Hey all.

Long time indeed! :)

I'm trying to find "the perfect" study on Psalms, but more than that, a look at the Office of Psalmist in the Bible. Is there any such thing? If not that, then maybe a study on the Psalms of David. But a "good", "Spirit-filled" - type study.

Dean? Helena? Any opinions???

Blessings!

Moe.
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Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

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DeanZF
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Good to see your face on the list. Most of the studies that I've seen have been exegetical in nature, some have been focused on the messianic prophecies and implications, but I'm not sure that I've ever seen a study based on the perspective of musician/psalmist/prophet. Hmmm. Maybe you're supposed to WRITE this thing. :yikes: Tomorrow, I'll do some searching and ask some other friends who might have some other ideas.
Blessings!

Dean
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DeanZF
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There is a stunning amount of stuff on-line about the Psalms in general, and even some with some specific agendae, but I'm still striking out on "our" specific agenda, but not giving up.

First, definitions are required in order to make sure that we're studying the right things in the right ways. If we want to understand the "office of the psalmist", we need to define some stuff.

An "office" is generally poorly defined in terms of ecclesiastical use. There is a presumption on the word that drives folks who like specifics crazy. :wacko: Most mainstream, Protestant thought tends to dismiss the "office of the psalmist" as having gone away with the Temple or even before. Those same folks usually dismiss the office of the prophet and others of the "fivefold ministries" except for pastor and teacher or pastor-teacher, depending on who you read.

Dean Thoughts: "Office" more or less can be seen as the mental and spiritual state where a person operates in his or her ministry. It is a "place" of authority, anointing, and calling. It is not self-proclaimed, but rather something that comes about because of recognition more than training or election.

Other parallel thoughts: native talent is helpful, as are earned skills, but neither of those have a lot to do with anointing, calling, power, or authority. You can train a technical musician to lead a song service, but can you bestow anointing or calling on him? No. You can have an enormously talented musician stand and provide a stellar rendition of a song that is impressive on the mind but that does not move the heart or change people. On the other hand, one can take a pretty mediocre musician who is anointed of God to lead others in songs that will change them more and more into the Likeness of the One Who created us, give that person training in the technicalities of music and leading, and one can essentially make a good thing better. This was the premise of the "School of the Prophets" in the Old Testament, as I understand it. It was NOT for prophet wannabes. It was for those who had already exhibited the basic traits necessary for prophecying. The old-head prophets would mould and encourage those fledgling prophets, telling them when they did good and when they missed the mark and why.

One Internet source talked about the Office of the Prophet in terms that translate pretty well to the Office of the Psalmist, I believe. I'm quoting directly; insert Psalmist for Prophet and I'll then massage their text to fit our premise, trying to be faithful to the thought pattern:
CrossBowMinistries
 
The Office of A Prophet vs Prophetic Gifts

Discernment, Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Interpretation of Tongues, Diverse Tongues (note: Tools of the Trade for a Prophet

There is a difference in the office of a prophet and prophetic gifts. A person whose calling is a Prophet can operate in the prophetic gifts as the Spirit leads (Note: not as the Spirit wills). In other words, the prophetic gifts are already given or operating in him/her by Holy Spirit; he/she only need to be led by the Holy Spirit to speak or not and if to speak; when, how, etc. There are different degrees of gifting by which a prophet may operate in, whether within the specific gifts or the degree by which the Holy Spirit reveal things to him/her. For example, a prophet may have a strong gifting in the word of wisdom but not in the word of knowledge. Likewise for an evangelist, he/she may have a strong gifting in winning souls but not in the area of healing.

I really like that paragraph. Think about it. There is indeed a difference between the office of the psalmist and the gifts and anointing. A person called a psalmist follows the lead of the Spirit, primarily in writing and honing spirit feeding lyrics that will move the souls of men. I'll probably work on more of this for another post.

A Psalmist is normally defined as one who composes psalms. Pretty pedestrian definition, actually, but pretty narrow, too. Most resources do not define the psalmist as simply a singer of psalms, or a user of the songs of others in ministry settings. That would be a musician. :) That's a little like the difference between a choreographer and a dancer. Both deal in dances, but one details the steps, one executes them.

Okay, so what's a psalm? What a BUNCH of answers you can find on line in secular and sacred sources alike. To some, if it's not one of the 150, it ain't a psalm. To others, it's any poetic form that's designed for use in religious settings. To still others, it's any song at all sung in churches that has religious implications. Those are some of the more meaningful definitions. We know that Paul, our New Testament scholar talks about psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. That would imply that he saw a difference between those three broad sung things.

Synthesizing some portions of my favorite finds, a psalm is a self-contained lyric poem that is designed to be sung or recited within the context of liturgy, to express the feelings, reflections, and responses of a believing soul.

Found a couple of interesting online resources, one that I'm reserving judgment on, and ESV LITERARY STUDY BIBLE. (Most of the above definition is a condensation and reworking of information from the ESV site.) I don't know what their theological bent it, but their introduction to the Psalms in general is excellent. One particular area caught my attention. Well, a couple, really, but check this out:
ESVLiteraryStudyBible
 
Tips for reading the Psalms...

Inferred literary intentions.
The book is designed to achieve the following literary purposes:

  • give expression to the emotional and reflective side of religious experience

  • express truth by means of images and figures of speech

  • package the content in highly artistic poetry, so that the beauty of expression is an important part of the total effect

  • do things with words that we do not ordinarily do with them (seen chiefly in the use of figurative language)

  • be truthful to human experience and portray its nuances accurately
    exalt God and his creation

  • provide the materials for private and public worship (including worship in song)

  • record human responses to God and the experiences of life

  • showcase literary beauty

That's where I am thus far. More after I read and digest more. :lecture:







Blessings!

Dean
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