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Psalms: The Hymnbook of Ancient Israel

Psalms: The Hymnbook of Ancient Israel


Welcome to the Epic of Eden: Psalms!

Along this journey, I encourage you to take part in as much of the personal, independent study as you have time for. As a biblical scholar and professor, my joy comes from doing the heavy lifting of decades of research and study so that I can pass along the wonder of Scripture to you in these pages and provide the framework for you to grow closer to God’s Word as a serious believer and follower of Jesus Christ!


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the book of Psalms? What is it that makes the psalms special?

Video notes

These are provided for you and your group members to follow along during the video as well as to offer room for note taking (writing down questions and aha moments as you like).

I. What is the book of Psalms?

  • tehilim = “songs” or “praises”
  • A culled collection
  • A hymnbook: collects and organizes everything a congregation needs in order to worship as a congregation

II. How were the psalms used?

Examples from our hymnals

  1. Easter
  2. Christmas
  3. Communion
  4. Marriage


Examples from the book of Psalms

  1. Hymns
  2. Laments
  3. Liturgical readings
  4. Enthronement psalms

III. What was the function of the Psalms?

“In their feasts and fasts, their daily worship, and their special celebrations, the people of Israel remembered and relived God’s past victories, committed themselves to present obedience of the covenant laws, which called for full loyalty to Yahweh, and anticipated future triumphs, especially the ultimate defeat of Yahweh’s foes.”1

  1. How is the collection structured?
  2. What is the point of the structure?
  • Psalm 1 is a Torah psalm; our foundation, our past
  • Psalm 2 is a Messianic psalm; our hope, our future


    • Sandy quotes the fourth-century church father Athanasius saying: “The Psalms have a unique place in the Bible because [whereas] most of Scripture speaks to us, the Psalms speak for ” How have you found this to be true in your own life?
    • Describe the most powerful worship experience you’ve ever had or witnessed. What made it so powerful?
    • Sandy describes the book of Psalms as the hymnbook of ancient Israel. Describe how this hymnbook compares and contrasts to our modern hymnbooks.
    • Review the structure of the book of Psalms. What does Sandy say this structure tells us?


    Read Psalm 150, the doxology of doxologies, aloud going around the group reading verse by verse.


    Next week we’ll dig into the book of Psalms and find answers to the questions who wrote these psalms? and why did they write them?


    Ask your group members if there is anything they would like prayer for—especially something highlighted by this week’s video.

    1.LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, Old Testament Survey, 443.

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    Your Turn

    Let us know your thoughts on The Epic of Eden: Psalms. We’d love to hear from you!