Today, I can show you rows and rows of binders in my study, prayer journals that date back to those early years in seminary. I can run my fingers down the spine of those small three-ring binders and pull out times in my life when I faced deep grief — like the day our triplets were born prematurely and passed away.
I can show you what my prayers were on that day and the emotions I was feeling. I can also pull binders off the shelf and turn to times of great joy — the birth of my two daughters, the call to pastor for the first time, the promises God has given me along the way. Each binder contains a year. Each page contains a day. Together they are a lifetime of walking with God.
In many ways the psalms are a collection of daily journals, excerpts from men and women who walked with God in the best of times and the worst of times. They are flooded with emotion. They are real, raw, untamed and unedited. Like life, the psalms are unpredictable and undeniable.
That is why I preach the psalms. In one sense the psalms are an expression of art using Hebrew poetry, meter and structure, but on the other hand, like art, they are raw expressions of the soul and the human condition. Though they are ancient, they are as timely and relevant as the morning news. This past summer I decided to preach a series on the psalms and God used it in a significant way in our church. As you sit down to prepare to preach the psalms, I would like to share with you some insights that have help me communicate the psalms in an more effective way.
There are psalms in the book of Psalms. Just the sheer volume of material often scares off preachers. It would take me three years to get through the entire book! There are several ways you can choose which psalms to teach. Just select the top ten psalms based on popular vote or your own personal favorites. This way you will hit the most popular and familiar psalms. Another way is to select one psalm out of the various categories of psalms. There are at least fifteen types of psalms such as palms of lament, praise, thanksgiving, and history. The pastors at Emmaus Church , where I serve, took the summer to preach through the major genres, or types, of psalms in the Psalter.
Obviously, I was thrilled. And obviously I volunteered to preach on imprecatory psalms. The Psalms! Then we could just brush them aside -- "Nothing to see here, folks. But here are four reasons you should:. In Psalm 58, for example, David is distraught over the miscarriage of justice Ps —2.
Victims of injustice resonate with this. I know this is true because God really does desire justice.
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For the harvest of the field has perished Joel Wail, all you wine drinkers, over the sweet wine because it has been taken away from you. Wail, you who minister at the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you servants of my God, because no one brings grain offerings or drink offerings to the temple of your God anymore Joel , Since Peter chooses to cite from the middle of the Book of Joel, it would be wise to briefly look at the message of the entire book, in order to gain insight into the portion of Joel that Peter has chosen to quote.
I believe that the book falls into three major sections:. The division of sections two and three may seem somewhat arbitrary because of the chapter divisions in our English Bibles. It is worth noting that the three sections I have suggested follow the chapter divisions of the Septuagint the Greek translation of the Old Testament — the version of the Old Testament frequently cited by the New Testament writers. Joel 1 describes a literal locust plague. As I understand verse 4, it was actually a sequence of locust attacks, the end result of which was that Israel was left a barren wasteland, that was finally consumed with fire Joel This devastation was greater than any Israel had experienced up to this point in time:.
Has anything like this ever happened in your whole life or in the lifetime of your ancestors? Such a plague should not come as a great surprise. We should remember that one of the judgments God brought upon Egypt was a locust plague:. The morning came, and the east wind had brought up the locusts! It was very severe; there had been no locusts like them before, nor will there be such ever again.
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Nothing green remained on the trees or on anything that grew in the fields throughout all the land of Egypt Exodus Therefore, the plague of locusts was an indication of great sin on the part of Israel, and thus also of divine indignation on the part of God. How awful that day will be! For the day of the Lord 7 is near; 8 it will come as destruction from the Divine Destroyer Joel Joel therefore calls upon the nation, and particularly its leaders, to repent and to plead for mercy.
Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you servants of my God, because no one brings grain offerings or drink offerings to the temple of your God anymore. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the temple of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord Joel Chapter 2 Joel continues the theme of the locust plague, but in my opinion there is a double reference here. I see this kind of double reference frequently in biblical prophecy. Thus David can speak of his own sufferings, and yet be describing the sufferings of Messiah as well Psalm Perhaps the double reference is most apparent in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, where human kings are rebuked, yet they are described in Satan-like terms.
Let me illustrate from Ezekiel Every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, topaz, and diamond, the beryl, onyx, and jasper, the sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; your settings and engravings were made of gold. On the day you were created they were prepared. I threw you down to the ground; I placed you before kings, that they might see you.
So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth before the eyes of all who saw you. Instead, Satan is described. The point of this is that the king of Tyre manifests the same character flaws that characterize Satan himself.
Or, to put it differently, Satan is behind many of the evils that take place at the hands of heathen kings. The same kind of things seems to be taking place in the Book of Joel. On the one hand, Joel continues the imagery of the literal locust plague of chapter one, but the plague in chapter two is worse than the plague Israel experienced in chapter one.
In chapter one, the plague was the worst the Jews had yet seen Joel ; in chapter two, the plague is the worst plague that will ever be for many generations:. It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm-clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come!
Joel , emphasis mine. The earth quakes before them; the sky reverberates. The sun and the moon grow dark; the stars refuse to shine Joel I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. In Joel 2, Israel is once again called to repentance, with the hope of finding mercy and compassion:. Tear your hearts, not just your garments! Be glad because of what the Lord your God has done! For he has given to you the early rains as vindication. He has sent to you the rains— both the early and the late rains as formerly.
My people will never again be put to shame. I am the Lord your God; there is no other. My people will never again be put to shame Joel , see also verses The third section begins with the text that Peter cited at the beginning of his sermon at Pentecost. It is a three-part promise.
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Third, is the assurance that all those who call upon the name of the Lord for salvation will be saved Joel a. From this background, let us seek to learn how Peter uses Joel to explain the meaning of the miraculous events that have just occurred in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Peter first lays the death of the Lord Jesus at the feet of his audience. They, along with the Gentiles who participated in the execution of Jesus, were responsible for His death. Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus claimed to be acting on behalf of His Father in Heaven:. It was this claim which prompted such a strong reaction from those who opposed Jesus:.
The Jews persisted in demanding signs from Jesus, to justify His claims, and Jesus declared that His resurrection would be the ultimate and final sign:. Peter therefore declares that God the Father was intimately involved in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. While human hands were sinfully involved in the death of Jesus, His death was the sovereign plan and purpose of God from eternity past:.
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This man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles Acts The ministry of Jesus the Nazarene was attested by God the Father to be of divine origin. Those who stood before Peter witnessed some of these attesting signs:.
His coming was in the divine plan, and His ministry was divinely empowered and attested. And when Jesus was put to death, God raised Him from the dead, a vindication of His claim to be the promised Messiah. These things were prophesied in the Old Testament.
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David himself prophesied concerning the resurrection of the Messiah:. On the one hand, it expresses his hope and assurance of eternal life. Verse 27 goes beyond anything David can claim for himself. David was speaking as a prophet here, and he was speaking of his descendant, the Christ.