Thursday 13 May 2010

Preaching the Psalms

The Evangelical Homiletics Society has a number of papers available on preaching the Psalms. I have included the abstracts with the links below:

R. Larry Overstreet
Emotional Subjectivity in Teaching/Preaching the Psalms

The Old Testament Book of Psalms is an ongoing favorite among God’s people, including scholars, preachers, and the laity. Throughout the centuries, believers have looked to the psalms for encouragement, for comfort, for challenge, and for stimulation. At the same time, those who expound the psalms often struggle with how best to present their messages. Scholars manifest a wide divergence in their approaches to the psalms. Significant variety often exists in the structural analysis and the resulting outlines of individual psalms. Why such divergence occurs is commonly not explained. This paper suggests that a frequently overlooked, and crucial, element in the exposition of the psalms is the intended emotional subjectivity of poetry, which can make rigid structural analysis less important than in other genres of literature. Approaching the psalms with this recognition will greatly assist expositors in understanding them and communicating them.

Kenneth E. Bickel
Preaching the Psalms to the Contemporary Community: Inviting the Listeners to Experience the Psalms

The Psalms contain rich resources for people, and preaching them in ways that are honest to the text, consistent with the genre and relevant for 21st century worshipers should characterize our quest. Helping worshipers to ‘experience’ a psalm represents a model of preaching that can be both accurate and engaging for listeners. This paper offers five examples of providing an experience for a psalm, and five general encouragements for the experiential communication of these timeless biblical treasures.

Kenneth W. Smith
Preaching the Psalms With Respect for their Inspired Design

Under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the psalmists wrote with poetic power and artifice. The Psalms impact hearers more deeply in part because of the literary devices that the psalmists employ. This paper demonstrates the use of literary devices that may enhance a sermon’s impact on its audience.

John B. Tornfelt
Understanding Chiastic Structures for Greater Clarity

Although in ancient Israel psalms were intended to be heard primarily in a linear fashion, a number of psalms also exhibit a secondary chiastic arrangement (a-b-c-b'-a'). This arrangement was not only aesthetically pleasing to the audience but it also provided the psalmist with an opportunity to treat themes twice in a psalm. For example, when a chiastic structure is followed, the unmatched center (a-b-c-b'-a') is normally the centerpiece of the psalm and where the central truth is found. Moreover, a unit from the first half of the psalm can be considered together with its matching unit in the psalm’s second half in order to more fully understand the theme of the psalmist. By paying attention to chiastic structures, the expositor can preach from the psalms with greater clarity.

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