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Preaching Psalm 128

Yesterday I gave my attempt at preaching Psalm 128, a psalm I have commented on here various times previously.  I have also commented previously on the difficulty of finding good resources for preaching on the Psalms.  Our commentaries simply do not (and perhaps cannot) give the same sort of detailed exposition of the Psalms as they do of other books (e.g. Luke or Romans).

So, in this post and the next I intend to list what I found most helpful on Psalm 128 in hopes of being useful to others who may preach this psalm.

First, though it may sound like a pious truism, I am reminded that there is no substitute for sustained, broad reading and contemplation of Scripture itself.  This is of course always true, but the lack of comprehensive sources on the Psalms forces me back to this basic task of seeing how Scripture interprets Scripture.  And interpreting Scripture by Scripture only flourishes as we live in the text on an ongoing basis. The more aware we are of the whole of Scripture the more we can see connections and hear allusions across the canon.  Patristic and Puritan sources are wonderfully convicting examples of this.  Over the last several weeks my own personal reading has been in Proverbs, and though I was not looking for connections to Psalm 128 I noticed a conceptual and formal parallel in the early chapters of Proverbs.  This was fascinating to trace out, and even though it was too involved to include in my sermon it helped to shape my consideration of the Psalm.

Secondly, since the Psalms are poems, the value of prolonged contemplation is heightened.  If you have the opportunity to allow any text (and especially poetry) to course through your mind for some time your reflections will certainly be more mature.  This, then, is another value in singing the Psalms.  If you have been singing a Psalm over some time then you will be more ready to preach it.  As I prepared my sermon I often “sang” the metrical version we use in my head as I went about other tasks using the time to reflect on the text.

In the next post, I will comment on which secondary sources I found the most helpful particularly on Psalm 128.

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