Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible

By Thomas G. Long | Go to book overview

3
PREACHING
on the psalms

Even today when public knowledge of the Bible is at a low ebb, the psalms maintain their grip upon the popular memory and imagination. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”; “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations”; “Make a joyful noise to the Lord”; “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.” These phrases are not only in the general cultural repertoire, they also stimulate personal memories of coundess funerals and baccalaureates, weddings and homecomings, occasions of great joy and moments of deep sadness.

Although the psalms are among the best known and most loved texts of Scripture, there are preachers who refuse on principle to preach sermons based upon psalms. They refuse not because they are stubborn, dislike the psalms, or fail to find profound meaning in them. Instead, they see the psalms as songs to be sung rather than as sermon texts to be preached, prayerful praise and laments more appropriately found on the lips of the congregation rather than instructional texts exposited by the preacher. To these preachers, preaching on a psalm would be like preaching on Michelangelo’s David—too much would be lost in the translation.

There is no good reason, though, why the psalms cannot be sung and preached. In the same way that the Aposdes’ Creed, normally a liturgical confessional statement, at times becomes the focus of a series of doctrinal sermons, the rich theological texture of the psalms justifies their liturgical use as sermon texts as well as musical texts. To do so

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Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Part 1 - The Approach 9
  • 1 - Learning How to Read 11
  • 2 - Moving from Text to Sermon 23
  • Part 2 - The Literary Forms 41
  • 3 - Preaching on the Psalms 43
  • 4 - Preaching on Proverbs 53
  • 5 - Preaching on Narratives 66
  • 6 - Preaching on the Parables of Jesus 87
  • 7 - Preaching on Epistles 107
  • 8 - Sermon Notes 127
  • Notes 136
  • Index of Names and Subjects 141
  • Index of Biblical Texts 143
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