Life-Study of Psalms, by Witness Lee

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A. Not a Book of Doctrines
or Any Kind of Teachings

The book of Psalms is not of doctrines or of any kind of teachings. The writings of the Psalms are in the form of praises. These praises were not composed by doctrine or understanding of teachings.

B. But a Book of the Expressions
of the Sentiments, Feelings, Impressions,
and Experiences of Godly Men

The book of Psalms is composed of the expressions of the sentiments, feelings, impressions, and experiences of godly men. This is the very crucial key for us to understand the Psalms. If we do not pick up this key, we have no way to understand this book. Not seeing this key is a big mistake many Christians have made.

The book of Psalms is not a book of stories, but a book of divine revelation through the expressions of the sentiments, feelings, impressions, and experiences of godly men concerning eight things. We need to see what these eight things are; otherwise, we will not be able to understand the Psalms. These eight things are:

1)God and the way He is in His dealing with them.
2)The law of God as the holy Word with the divine revelation.
3)The house of God, the temple, and Mount Zion on which the temple was seated, as the center of God’s dwelling place on the earth.
4)The holy city of God, Jerusalem, as the encompassing protection of the house of God.
5)The holy people of God, Israel, as God’s beloved elect among the nations.
6)Their love toward God, their fellowship with God, their blessings received of God, their sufferings under God’s dealing, and their environment.
7)Their captivity.
8)Their thanksgivings and praises to Jehovah their God, whom they tasted and enjoyed.

The psalmists, as godly men, loved the law, loved God, loved the temple, loved the holy city, and loved the holy people, but eventually, they were exiled. They were brought into captivity. The law, after being given, results in captivity. Jeremiah shows the pitiful captivity and exile which the people of Israel experienced. They experienced captivity upon captivity and exile upon exile. Many of them were killed by the Babylonians. A small remnant of them remained, but they would not take the word of God to remain in their holy land. Instead, they wanted to go to Egypt. They went there to be exiles (Jer. 42:1—43:7).

The Old Testament law given by God through Moses resulted altogether in captivity. Captivity came because of the failure of the carrying out of the first covenant. Because the old covenant was altogether a failure, Jeremiah said that God would make a new covenant (31:31-34). Even by the end of the time of the early apostles, the New Testament believers had entered into captivity due to the fact that they remained in the old covenant although they had been put into the new covenant. Today’s Catholic Church is a mixture of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Their rituals, formalities, and even the clothing of their clergy are an Old Testament mixture. Today’s Pentecostalism is also a mixture of the Old Testament with the New Testament. These are proofs that even today’s New Testament believers have entered into captivity as a result of keeping the Old Testament practices with the law. Eventually, the psalmists turned from enjoying the law in which they delighted to enjoying their God whom they loved and sought after.

(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)