The more I study the Bible, the clearer it is that it was meant to tell one story.
It’s exciting to see biblical authors from different times interact with one another. For example, it’s encouraging to see Peter so frequently preach from the Old Testament in Acts. The New Testament is constantly quoting and referring back to the Old Testament.
From a similar perspective, the Psalms are a gold mine. Not only are they the most frequently quoted book in the New Testament, but they also frequently refer back to the Pentateuch.
The Pentateuch (aka the Torah) provides the foundation for our faith. Our religion is historical. God’s promises and faithfulness go back just a far as human history.
There are two frequent ways I see the Psalms referring to the Torah.
First, the Psalms frequently remind themselves of God’s faithfulness through the early events of Israel which are recorded in the Pentateuch. For example, the psalmist writes, “Come and see the wonders of God; his acts for humanity are awe-inspiring. He turned the sea into dry land, and they crossed the river on foot” (Psalm 66:5-6). He looks back on the faithfulness of God to deliver Israel from Egypt, which was recorded in Exodus 14.
The Psalms are a book of praise, and God deserves the praise for his faithfulness since the beginning.
Second, the Psalms frequently revel in the appreciation of the Pentateuch. We can be tempted to view the law as a bad thing, but the entire Bible testifies that it was not. By God’s grace, he has fulfilled the law, but even the New Testament authors argued that the law is good (Romans 7:12).
Israel had even more of a reason to praise God for the law. They believed that it was their most necessary guide to righteousness. To them, life was like walking through an unknown land. And the law was their guide to help them find their way.
Moreover, the law is special to them because it is the word of God. They believed just as we do in the inerrancy and authority of God’s word. The psalmist writes, “How sweet your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey in my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).
That the Psalms help us interpret and celebrate the Torah is very significant for our hermeneutics. As the historical Latin phrase says, Sacra Scriptura sui interpres, Sacred Scripture interprets itself.
While reading the Torah might be discouraging at times, the Psalms show us that it should not be. The Psalms show us that the Torah can be one of the most encouraging places in the Bible. The Psalms show us that the Torah puts the faithfulness and mercy of God on clear display.
Remember that next time you’re reading the Pentateuch.
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