336 – Psalm 22 – Introduction part 1

I’ve mentioned that the titles above the Psalms are verse one in the Hebrew Bible. It’s important to note the titles were penned by the Psalmist. Comparing the Hebrew to the English the English verse count in each Psalm is reduced by one. We gain important information from the Psalm titles. The title for Psalm three is, “A Psalm of David When He Fled from Absalom His Son.” (NKJV)

We learn some interesting context from the title of Psalm four, “To the Chief Musician. With Stringed Instruments. A Psalm of David.” (NKJV). David authored it, it was played by string players, and it was given to the Chief Musician, very likely so he could arrange it for a group of musicians to perform. The Psalm 5 title tells us, “To the Chief Musician. With Flutes. A Psalm of David.” (NKJV). The Psalm 6 title is interesting, “To the Chief Musician. With Stringed Instruments. On An Eight-Stringed Harp. A Psalm of David.” (NKJV). I hope you will take a few minutes and just flip through the Psalms pouring over the titles. At the very least I hope you will be careful to read the titles each time you are in the Psalms. Think of it this way, it was important enough to the Psalmist to write the titles and important enough to YHWH to preserve them in His word, that it should be important enough for you to read and consider them.

Let’s consider the title of Psalm twenty-two, “To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Deer of the Dawn.” A Psalm of David. (NKJV)”. We haven’t looked at verse one and we already know some interesting information. This Psalm was penned by King David. We know it was performed by the royal musicians because it was sent to the Chief Musician. We also learn something fascinating. It was set to the melody of a popular song of its day, “The Deer of the Dawn”! 

I can hardly wait to get into the meat of this Psalm, but already I feel an excitement brewing. Like many of you, I have hardly noticed the titles – I almost always start with verse one, but not anymore! I find myself longing to know more about this ancient song titled, “The Deer of the Dawn”. Was it a secular song? Religious? Was it written in a major key meaning it was uplifting and cheerful, or was it written in a minor key making the hearer pensive and somber? Or did it start in a minor key during the sad parts and change to the uplifting major key during the triumphant verses? Unfortunately, that information is lost to history. 

By my count twelve of the one hundred fifty Psalms titles tell us the names of the ancient tunes to which they were set (9, 22, 45, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 69, 75, 80, 88). The ancient song “Do not destroy” was used as the melody in four of the Psalms (57, 58, 59, 75). The song familiar to the original audience named “Lily” or “Lily of the testimony” was also used in four Psalms (45, 60, 69, 80). The then familiar tunes of “Death of the son” (Ps. 9), “Doe of the Dawn” (Ps. 22), “The silent dove of Distant Lands” (Ps. 56), “Mahalath Leannoth” (Ps. 88) were only used one time each in the five books of Psalms.

I realize this devotion post is an unusual one because we didn’t look at a single verse. I believe it is critically important we remind ourselves of the “realness” of the Word of God. Sometimes we read it as an ancient storybook, especially when we spend time in the Old Testament. The content is so far removed in time from the present-day reader that we often find it difficult to treat it as a message from YHWH that transcends time and cultures. It truly is a book relevant from when first penned and all through the ages. It has the power to rescue and transform lives. The word of God should be a regular part of our lives. We should read it daily, study it often, discuss it with those we love, and apply the truths we discover.

YHWH truly is worthy of all Praise, Worship, Adoration, Obedience, and Service!

 


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