Reading the Psalms
by Dr. Dan Sharp, Minister of Worship
When you next read a psalm, note the structure.
Here are some examples of typical Hebrew writing where much of the writing comes with a parallel structure. For example, the second response either restates the first thought in a different manner (Ps.102:1 "Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you."), adds to the thought in a complimentary fashion (Ps.23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."), or states a consequence of disobeying the first statement (Ps.32:3 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away.")
Every line of the psalm is there for a specific purpose. Hearing the contrasting timbres of voice serves to highlight the meaning of the psalm. Meaning is often heightened through contrast of sound and timbre. Think of a painting, a movement of a symphony, the structure of a song, a fabric textures, a sunset, or the scenic beauty of the mountains.
Contrast is a way of defining and sharpening our focus and understanding in Scripture, and enhancing its beauty. Creative contrast is part of being made in the image of God so it is natural that it would be useful in the writing of the psalms.