Songs Of The Crucified One: The Psalms And The Crucifixion -- By: Derek Tidball

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:2 (Summer 2007)
Article: Songs Of The Crucified One: The Psalms And The Crucifixion
Author: Derek Tidball

Songs Of The Crucified One: The Psalms And The Crucifixion

Derek Tidball

Derek Tidball is Principal and Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Religion at London School of Theology. He has served as the pastor of two Baptist Churches and as Head of the Mission Department at the Baptist Union of Great Britain. He is a frequent Bible conference speaker and the author of numerous books, especially on the Bible and in pastoral theology, including The Message of the Cross: Wisdom Unsearchable, Love Indestructable (InterVarsity, 2001) and The Message of Leviticus: Free to Be Holy (InterVarsity, 2005).

Songs, of all descriptions, have an amazingly powerful ability to lodge their words and music in our minds. Few of us are far, for any length of time, from radios, televisions, DVDs, iPods, or mp3s, repetitively churning out the latest hit or the classic favorite. Whether in our homes, in shopping malls or on public transport, we are surrounded by music. The consequence is that many can easily drop into singing a song whether or not they have intentionally learned it. The memory of songs learned decades ago can be triggered by the slightest hint and easily come to mind to be quoted or sung accurately. Would that Christians knew the words of Scripture as confidently as they can repeat the songs of the world!

The world of Jesus’ day was, of course, different and lacked the ability to broadcast and electronically reproduce its music. Yet, for all that, the songs of Israel exercised a remarkably powerful influence on the minds of Jesus and his disciples and, as today, they resorted to quoting or alluding to the songs very easily. In their case, the songs were the Psalms, often spoken of as the hymnbook of the second temple. Sabbath by Sabbath the Psalms were read in the synagogues, so that either every Psalm was read within the year or every Psalm read on a three-year cycle. There is evidence for both approaches.1 Regularly, the doxologies at the end of each book within the Psalms (41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48 and 150:6) were used in worship. Attendance at the great festivals in Jerusalem would have added to these routine experiences. The pilgrim band sang the Psalms as they made their way to the Holy City, and pilgrims heard them performed chorally (and joined in the performances) in the temple itself. No wonder the words of the Psalms exercised a “great influence on the hearts and minds of religious people.”2 The Psalms, too, might not only ha...

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