6. Praise Psalms

  • Praise psalms are usually divided into two categories: declarative and descriptive praise
  • (Much of this material is taken from Ross)

The Form of the Declarative Praise Psalm

  • Form critical scholars will often call this type of psalm the “Thanksgiving Psalm,” or the “Todah Psalm”
  • they also divide them into two groups, the Praise of the Individual and the Praise of the Community.
  • There is not an appreciable difference between the Communal and the Individual Praise—the essential elements are present in both.
  • Psalms include: 18, 21, 30, 32, 34, 40, 41, 66, 106, 116, and 138.

1. Proclamation to praise God

  • The psalm will begin with a clear intention to praise
  • e.g. “I will praise . . . .”
  • The psalmist will tell others what God has done.
  • The vow of praise (made during the prayer) may have been made in private, but the payment of that vow must be in public.
  • This type of psalm is essentially “testimony.”

2. Report of the deliverance

  • The content of the praise will be given immediately.
  • introductory statement that summarizes the praise, frequently expressed in one sentence.
    • then be further developed in the psalm.
  • The psalmist will look back at the time of need and report the deliverance.
  • The frequent elements in this report are: “I cried . . . He heard . . . He drew me out (or whatever).”

3. Praise or renewed vow of praise

  • The psalmist now offers the praise.
  • declares the saving deeds of the LORD.

4. Descriptive praise or instruction

  • Frequently the declarative praise will turn into a descriptive praise of God and his attributes that explains the testimony.
  • If the psalmist has reiterated the vow of praise in the preceding section, then this section forms part of the payment of that vow.
  • The psalm may end with a teaching section which could be long
    • Lessons drawn from the experience are taught to the congregation.
  • See Psalm 32 & 138 as examples

The Form of the Descriptive Praise Psalm or Hymn

  • very similar
    • and some think they are essentially the same.
    • but there are discernible parts that differ substantially.
  • Psalms include 28, 36, 105, 111, 113, 117, 135, 136, 146, and 147.

1. Prologue

Hallelu Yah! The psalm begins with some such expression.

2. Call to Praise

  • may be an extended call for worship preparations, or simply “Praise Yah.”

3. Cause for the praise

  • reason for and substance of the praise.
  • normally a summary statement of the cause for praise followed by specific illustrations of it.
  • summary usually has two parts:
    • God’s greatness (e.g., the LORD of creation)
    • God’s grace (e.g., his dealings in history to save).
  • God is often praised for his creation and his sustaining of nature.
    • and so some of these psalms have been called “Hymns to the Creator.”

4. Conclusion

  • renewed call to praise for the reasons expressed in the psalm
  • or an exhortation, or a petition, or even a lesson.

5. Epilogue

  • Hallelu Yah! This expression may also appear at the end of the passage (although it is not always present).
  • See Psalm 33 & 135 as examples