Redemptive-Historical Survey: 10 | Wisdom and Songs (LDBC Recap 4/3/16 Pt. 2)

Explanation

logo-lake-drive-baptist-churchOn Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.

Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.

See previous posts:

Recap/review

We continue this week’s core seminar recap with a brief–and I mean brief–survey of the wisdom literature and the psalms.

Role within redemptive history

God supplies wisdom and songs for his covenant-bound, new-creational kingdom people.

The wisdom literature and songs (psalms) lead God’s people to live properly as his redemptive-historical people with regards to (a) how they are to relate and respond to God (worship and prayer [think: the psalms]), (b) down to earth, everyday, practical living (think: Proverbs), and (c) abstract questions about life (think especially Job and Ecclesiastes).

These books–Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon–are often the ones that feel the least “redemptive-historical.” They feel the least storied, in other words. The least related to the movement of God’s saving purposes across Biblical history. They feel closer to what we might call “timeless truths.”

But, even still, these books still assume redemptive-historical realities. They have redemptive history in their background.

For example, their guidance assumes the realities of redemptive history like…

(a) God’s original creation design…

e.g., Proverbs understands wisdom as something built into the fabric of creation (see Prov 8).

(b) The fall and the entrance of evil and sin into that design…

e.g., the account of Job is only possible in a world of suffering and evil. Or, again, the book of Ecclesiastes warns us of our sinful (i.e., fallen) tendency to seek meaning apart from God.

And (c) God’s activity to restore his creation through salvation and judgment…

e.g., the Psalms speak of God’s saving activity and his promises to save in the future, i.e., redemptive-historical promises.

Or, again, Proverbs makes clear that wisdom begins with something of a converted state–a disposition that is called “fearing God.” As such, Proverbs assumes the fall, that we are all sinful “fools” who need to be rightly re-oriented to God (conversion, regeneration).

In addition, these songs and wisdom books equip God’s people to live out that role as his redemptive-historical people in the nitty gritty aspects of every day life, in the midst of the full-range of human emotions and experiences.

Overview of Biblical material

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. 

  • Wisdom: Wisdom literature provides guidance (wisdom = “The skill of living successfully in God’s created but fallen world”) for God’s redemptive-historical people to live as God’s redemptive-historical people.
    • Job – Wisdom is knowing what you don’t know (e.g., the cause of suffering) while remembering who does.
    • Proverbs – Wisdom is living godly (= the beginning of wisdom is fearing God [chs.1-9]; and here is what that looks like [chs.10-31]).
    • Ecclesiastes – Wisdom is avoiding the trap of seeking to find meaning apart from God.
    • Song of Solomon – Wisdom is relishing sexuality within marriage.
  • Songs (Psalms) – The psalms are scripts that lead us to respond and relate to God properly in the midst of the full range of human emotions and experiences.

And, so, in closing, to recap the role of these books within redemptive history–God supplies wisdom and songs for his covenant-bound, new-creational kingdom people.

“What Can Miserable Christians Sing?” (Carl Trueman)

In Carl R. Trueman’s book The Wages of Spin: Critical Writings on Historical and Contemporary Evangelicalism, he included a chapter entitled,”What Can Miserable Christians Sing?”

The answer to that question, Trueman answers, is the Psalms and specifically the Psalm’s model of lamentation.

Of this short chapter Trueman states,

This little piece which took minimal time and energy to author has garnered more positive responses and more touching correspondence than anything else I have ever written. It resonated with people across the Christian spectrum, people from all different church backgrounds who had one thing in common: the understanding that life has a sad, melancholy, painful dimension which is too often ignored and sometimes even denied in our churches.

He describes his purpose for writing as

to highlight what I saw as a major deficiency in Christian worship, a deficiency that is evident in both traditional and contemporary approaches: the absence of the language of lament. The Psalms, the Bible’s own hymnbook, contains many notes of lamentation, reflecting the nature of the believer’s life in a fallen world. And yet these cries of pain are on the whole absent from hymns and praise songs.

CarlTruemanHe sums up the thrust of that chapter as follows:

There is nothing in the typical book of hymns or praise songs that a woman who has miscarried a baby, or a parent who has just lost a child to cancer, can sing with honesty and integrity on a Sunday.

The desperation and heartache of such moments are things which we instinctively feel have no place in a religion where we are called on to rejoice in the Lord always. Yet there is a praise book which taps such emotions and gives the broken-hearted honest words with which to express their deepest sorrows to God.

It’s called the book of Psalms; and its recovery as a source of public praise in the Christian church can only help the church overcome its innate triumphalism and make room for the poor and the weak.

In short, he says, in the Psalms “one finds divinely inspired words which allow the believer to express their deepest pains and sorrows to God.”

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Brief Meditative Reflections on Psalm 96

As I meditated on this passage, my thoughts seemed to center around what I think is this psalm’s central thrust, its thesis if you will. That thesis is well summarized in v.8a: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name.” Ascribe (not “give”)—the idea of attributing some quality to God that is already His. This attribution is the central concept of worship in this psalm. In other words, to put this thesis in my own words, we are to give God the worship that He is due. We are to worship God who is worthy of our worship; and the measure, scope, and intensity of our worship is to correspond to the worthiness of the God to whom that worship is given. And, of course, the psalm goes on to make unavoidably clear that the worship due God is immeasurable great. Therefore, our worship of God must not be limited; it cannot be too great.

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