Theology of the Psalms

By Hans-Joachim Kraus; Keith Crim | Go to book overview

2. The People of God

Yahweh is the God of Israel (Ps. 68:8). The designation

(“God of Israel”) binds Yahweh and his people together inseparably. Whenever Yahweh is spoken of, his people must also be mentioned, the people to whom he has made himself accessible, to whom he has communicated and revealed himself. Yahweh makes his appearance as the “Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 71:22; 89:18). As the (“Holy One of Israel”) he is “our king” (Ps. 89:18). The metaphor of shepherd and flock is basic to the designation of Yahweh as the (“Shepherd of Israel,” Ps. 80:2). Another figure of speech is found in the term “keeper of Israel” (Ps. 121:3–5). These designations express the closest bonds between Yahweh and his people. Therefore, throughout the Psalms we must inquire which theology of Israel is expressed in them, what role is played by God’s people, and what basic concepts and expectations, what prayers and expectations are involved? In answering these questions we will examine first the beginnings and basic relationships, then history and creation, and finally, the cultic community as present in worship.


A. Beginnings and Basic Relationships

Whenever the Psalms speak of Israel’s beginnings or of the beginnings of Yahweh’s coming to Israel, we find the theme of the exodus. The patriarchs, especially Abraham, are also mentioned (Ps. 47:9; 105:7, 9, 42), but in the Psalms the basic event is always the exodus, the deliverance from Egypt (Ps. 105:43; 114:1; 136:11, 14, 21; etc.). “So he led forth his people with joy, his chosen ones with singing” (Ps. 105:43). Thus the basic datum of God’s choice of Israel is his rescuing them from Egypt. Israel did not engage in speculation about God’s choice, but always saw itself in relationship to the event of Yahweh’s liberating them and bringing them out of Egypt. The choice of Israel is the event that constituted the beginning, the basis, and the presupposition of Israel’s existence as the people of Yahweh. This event took place, and the assembled people of God—in declarations, in narratives, and in praise—again and again reminded itself of the event. “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession” (Ps. 135:4). The concept

(“possession”), which originated in the Deuteronomic tradition, illustrates the basic relationship that was initiated by God’s

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Theology of the Psalms
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Translator’s Preface 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1- The God of Israel 17
  • 2- The People of God 51
  • 3- The Sanctuary and Its Worship 73
  • 4- The King 107
  • 5- The Enemy Powers 125
  • 6- The Individual in the Presence of God 137
  • 7- The Psalms in the New Testament 177
  • Abbreviations 205
  • References 207
  • Index of Selected Hebrew Words 219
  • Index of Biblical References 221
  • Index of Names and Subjects 233
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