Module 29: The Illustration of the Teacher - Worship
Module Guide: Psalms Book 3 Ps. 73-89 - Elohim - Jehovah, The Mighty Helper (Ceaseless Worship); and Song of Solomon - The Canticles of Love
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
The word "Psalms" is the Anglicized form of a Greek word, which really means a poem set to music. The Hebrew title of the book was simply Praises, or Book of Praises. It is pre-eminently the worship book of the Hebrew people, and consists of a collection of songs which express the attitude of the soul in the presence of God, when contemplating past history, existing conditions, or prophetic hopes. The whole collection consists, in the Hebrew Bible, of five books. In the English and American Revisions this subdivision is shown.
We have no definite proof who the editor was. His method becomes evident by an examination of the grouping of the psalms. It is perfectly clear that neither authorship nor chronology was in his view. Eusebius declares that "the psalms are disposed according to a law of inward affinity," and Dr. Anderson says: "It must be remembered that every attempt to classify and arrange the psalms apart from the division of the whole Psalter into the five books as found in our Hebrew Bible, in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate Versions - every such attempt is confessedly imperfect, and more or less arbitrary."
The key to the method of the editor is to be found in the doxologies with which the books close. Each of the five has such a doxology, and an examination of these will reveal a certain conception of God, and an attitude of the soul in worship resulting from such conception. They may be grouped thus:
- Book 1 Psalm 41:13 - Worship of Jehovah as the Becoming One, Who is the Helper.
- Book 2 Psalm 72:18-19 - Worship of Jehovah as the wonder-working God.
- Book 3 Psalm 89:52 - Worship of Jehovah ceaseless.
- Book 4 Psalm 106:48 - Worship of Jehovah rendered.
- Book 5 Psalm 150:1-6 - Worship of Jehovah consummated.
The individual psalms are natural expressions by many authors, at various times, under differing circumstances, of the consciousness of God. The editing gathers these individual songs around the notes of truth dominant in each.
These notes are indicated in each book by the particular title of Jehovah which preponderates. The subject of the Divine titles is too great a one to be discussed at length now, but as an introduction to the study of the Psalter, recognition of difference is necessary. The proportion in which the four titles are used in the book of Psalms, as indicated in the diagram, is a somewhat rough one. That is to say, under Elohim are included El and Eloah, because while there is a minor difference of suggestion between the singular and the plural, the underlying thought is the same. So also with reference to Adonahy and Adon.
In the ancient Hebrew Scriptures this particular title was always written in the form of a tetragrammaton - YHYH - and there are differences of opinion as to what the actual form of the word should be. Without entering into any discussion of the varied interpretations, I adopt that of Mr. Joseph Bryant Rotherham in the "Emphasized Bible," both as to spelling and significance. He claims that the word thus abbreviated is Yahweh, and interprets it as meaning "the Becoming One." In his Bible he says, "Yahweh is almost always regarded as the third person singular, masculine, imperfect tense, from the root Hawah, an old form of the root Hayah. The one meaning of Hawah is 'become.' So that the force of Yahweh, thus derived as a verb, would be, 'He will become,' or, as expressive of use and wont as a noun, it is, 'He who becometh,' 'The Becoming One.'" In a letter written to me in the course of correspondence on the subject, referring to this meaning, Mr. Rotherham says, "'He becometh'; that is, 'He who becometh,' The Becoming One': becoming to His people whatever in His rich favour He pleases, in order to meet their need, and at last becoming Man." The truth therefore suggested by the use of this word is always that, first of the essential Being of God which enables Him to become; and by deduction, that God in infinite grace does become whatever man needs.
This is a plural noun, but it is plural in a sense peculiar to the Hebrew language. Canon Girdlestone says: "It is well known that the Hebrews often expressed a word in the plural, so as to give it a special or technical meaning, as in the case of the words blood, water, wisdom, salvation, righteousness, life. ... It is implied that the word in the singular number is not large enough to set forth all that is intended; and so, in the case of the Divine Name, the plural form expresses the truth that the finite word conveys an inadequate idea of the Being Whom it represents. Other names of God will be found to be plural also, and it is worthy of notice that in the well-known passage in Ecclesiastes (12:1) the Hebrew runs thus, 'Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth.'" The root idea of the word is that of strength or might; and the thought of God suggested by it is that of His strength as revealed in creation, and in all the operations of His power.
This is again plural in form. Its simple signification is "Master" or "Lord"; and the thought it suggests is that of sovereign supremacy.
This is the shorter form of the name Jehovah, and is only found in Scripture; twice in Exodus, a few times in Isaiah, and in thirty- five passages in the book of Psalms.
These names reveal the doctrine of God, which creates the worship of man. Recognizing that Jehovah and Jah have the same essential significance, there are three lines of thought suggested. First, the essential Being of God, and the fact that He becomes in grace what man needs. Second, the essential Might of God, and the fact that it operates in power. Third, the essential Lordship of God, and His consequent sovereignty over man.
The Divine Name
God - The dominant name in this book is still "God." It occurs at least in every Psalm and in one as many as 15 times. It is written in the singular (El) 20 times and in the plural (Elohim) 60 times.
Jehovah - "Jehovah" is found 44 times. It is only absent from two Psalms and occurs in one, 10 times. The title "Jah" is used twice.
Lord - The general title "Lord" (Adonahy) occurs 15 times scattered through six Psalms.
The Dominant Thought
Jehovah To be Worshipped - In the third book the dominant thought is that of the worship of God under all circumstances. Both names are used throughout, although that of God predominates. While this is so, the final doxology speaks of Jehovah, showing that the thought is that of worship rendered to God because He is the essential Helper.
Blessed be the Lord for evermore - Psalm 89:52
The Title - Jehovah: The essential Helper.
The Quality - Blessed. Amen and Amen.
The Quantity - For evermore.
The analyses are intended to help in the study of the collection, as to the conceptions impelling to worship.
Part A: MIGHTY HELP - THE FACT - Psalms 73-77
A.1. The Viewpoint - Psalm 73
- The Sanctuary. The Problem of the Prosperity of the Wicked. The Solution: God the Good of His people - Ps. 73
A.2. The Revelation - Psalm 74-76
- The Hope: God as silent and inactive - Ps. 74
- The Certainty: God as speaking and active - Ps. 75
- The Activity: God the God of victory - Ps. 76
A.3. The Vision - Psalm 77
- The Years of the Right Hand: God the Healer of sorrow - Ps. 77
Part B: MIGHTY HELP - THE EXPERIENCE - Psalms 78-83
B.1. History - Psalm 78
- Egypt to David. The Institution for the Children. The Patience of God: God the God of patience - Ps. 78
B.2. Special Manifestation - Psalm 79-81
- The Devastation: God the Hope of the distressed - Ps. 79
- The Appeal: God the Restorer of His people - Ps. 80
- The Deliverance: God the Strength of the loyal - Ps. 81
B.3. Administration - Psalm 82-83
- Home: God the Judge of the judges - Ps. 82
- Foreign: God vindicated as most High - Ps. 83
Part C: MIGHTY HELP - THE HOPE Psalms 84-89
C.1. Confidence- Psalm 84-85
- The Pilgrimage Contemplated: God the Strength of the pilgrim - Ps. 84
- Salvation sought: Jehovah the Restorer of the wanderer - Ps. 85
C.2. The Attitude - Psalm 86-87
- Personal Submission: The Lord the mighty Helper of the needy - Ps. 86
- Relative Government: Jehovah, His city and His peoples - Ps. 87
C.3. The Summary - Psalm 88-89
- Human Need: Jehovah the only Hope of the sorrowing - Ps. 88
- Divine Restoration: Jehovah the God of Discipline - Ps. 89
Song of Solomon (Songs)
No book has been more provocative of controversy than this. The question at issue is as to its place and value in Holy Scripture. Decision as to its right to be there depends ultimately upon the interpretation of it which is adopted. While there are different varieties of each, the interpretations may be divided into two main classes - the material: and the mystical. Without staying to deal with the many interpretations of either kind, may it not be true that the gravest mistake has been that of imagining that either method in itself exhausts the meaning? On the extreme left are those who declare it to be simply a voluptuous Eastern love song. On the extreme right are those who at once say it is a portrayal of the love existing between Christ and His Church. To take the second view first, for whatever value the Holy Spirit may have caused this to be written, it is perfectly certain that Solomon did not see in it all that such interpreters find there. I am not denying that these things are there for us, but merely say Solomon did not write to set forth these things, for the mystery of the Church was a hidden one under the whole economy of Hebraism. On the other hand, if some mystical value is recognized as lying within the purpose of the writer, the songs are at once saved from the possibility of being charged with voluptuousness.
In order to understand the value of the book, I think it necessary to recognize, first, a basis in actual fact; and second, an increasing understanding of the deepest values with the process of the centuries.
The basis of fact we shall find by recognizing that these songs are idyls, and that behind them is the actual story of the wooing and winning of a bride. As Dr. Moulton lucidly points out, the idyllic form does not proceed in consecutive order in its description, and it is necessary to construct the story by careful examination of the songs themselves.
They first set forth the love existing between bride and bridegroom. The thought of the relationship of bride and bridegroom, as setting forth that existing between Jehovah and Israel, is peculiarly Hebrew. In the prophets this is subsequently made clearly manifest. Moreover, Jewish expositors have so interpreted these songs, and it is certainly easily probable that Solomon had some such intention in mind.
In the New Dispensation, that of the Church, the same figure is the most glorious in setting forth the nature of the relation existing between Christ and His Church. Some of the most sainted writers of the Christian Church have interpreted these songs in the light of this New Testament truth; such, for instance, as Rutherford and McCheyne. Dr. Adeney, in the Expositor's Bible, while arguing against the mystical interpretation, yet says: "It may be maintained that the experience of Christians has demonstrated the aptness of the expression of the deepest spiritual truths in the imagery of the Song of Solomon." His later contention, that New Testament writers make no use of the poem in this way, is of no weight, for we believe in the ever-increasing light upon the deepest values of the earlier Scriptures. The fact that Solomon had no intention of setting forth the relation between Christ and His Church is of no moment. If through the songs of human love he did intend to set forth the spiritual idea of the love between Jehovah and His ideal people, the fulfilment of the thought of the songs would come with the working out into history of the realization of that purpose.
The songs should be treated then, first as simple and jet sublime songs of human affection. AVhen they are thus understood, reverently the thoughts may be lifted into the higher value of setting forth the joys of the communion between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God, and ultimately between the Church and Christ.
No further exposition of these songs is necessary in an outline study. As songs of human love they need no other exposition. As songs of spiritual love they are better interpreted experimentally than in any other way.
PART A: THE MARRIAGE - Song of Songs 1:1-2:7
A.1. The Shulammite and the Virgins: Ready for the Wedding - Song. 1:1-1:6
- Title - 1:1
- The Bride. Awaiting the Wedding - 1:2-1:4a
- The Virgins. To the Bride - 1:4b
- The Bride. In the Bridegroom's House - 1:4c
- The Virgins. To the Bridegroom - 1:4d
- The Bride - 1:4e-1:6
- To the Bridegroom - 1:4e
- To the Virgins - 1:5-1:6
A.2. The Bride and the Bridegroom - Song. 1:7-2:7
- The Bride - 1:7
- The Bridegroom - 1:8-1:10
- The Virgins. To the Bride - 1:11
- The Bride - 1:12-1:14
- The Bridegroom - 1:15
- The Bride - 1:16-2:1
- The Bridegroom - 2:2
- The Bride - 2:3-2:6
- The Singer - 2:7
Part B: THE BETROTHAL - Song of Songs 2:8-7:9
B.1. Memories of the Wooing - Song. 2:8-3:5
- The Bride. How the Beloved came - 2:8-2:14
- The Brothers. Interrupting the wooing - 2:15
- The Bride. Answering the Wooer - 2:16-2:17
- The Bride. Her Dreams after the wooing - 3:1-3:4
- The Singer - 3:5
B.2. The Betrothal - Song. 3:6-5:1
- The Singer. The coming of Solomon - 3:6-3:11
- Solomon. The Proposal - 4:1-4:15
- The Bride. The Acceptance - 4:16
- Solomon - 5:1
- To the Bride - 5:1a
- To His Retinue - 5:1b
B.3. Experienced following Betrothal - Song. 5:2-7:9
- The Bride. The Maiden's troubled Dream - 5:2-6:3
- The coming of the Beloved in the night - 5:2-5:5
- The Door opened but the Beloved vanished - 5:6a
- Her Search - 5:6b-6:2
- Out in the Streets - 5:6b
- The ill-treatment of the Watchmen - 5:7
- Appeal to the Women of Jerusalem - 5:8
- Their Answer - 5:9
- Her description of her Beloved - 5:10-5:16
- Enquiry of the Women - 6:1
- Her Answer - 6:2
- She awakes - 6:3
- Solomon. His musing - 6:4-7:9
- Description of the Shulammite - 6:4-6:9a
- Effect upon the Virgins of the Vision of her - 6:9b-6:13
- Continued Description - 7:1-7:9
Part C: THE UNITED LIFE - Song of Songs 7:10-8:14
C.1. The Bride - Song. 7:10-8:3
- Her desire to visit her home with her Bridegroom
C.2. The Singer - Song. 8:4-8:5a
C.3. The Bride and Bridegroom together - Song. 8:5b-8:14
- The Bridegroom - 8:5b
- The Bride - 8:6-8:12
- Quotation from the Brothers - 8:6-8:9
- Answer of the Bride - 8:10-8:12
- The Bridegroom - 8:13
- The Bride - 8:14
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.