How to Preach the Genres of the Bible

PART ONE

PREACHING THE LETTERS

Introduction

In this session of the teaching, the summarized nature of the New Testament letters will be highlighted briefly at how to read them properly. The highlight focuses on several sermon keys or guidelines for preaching the letters and few things to avoid.

Interpretive Keys

  1. Letters were considered to be substitutes for the personal presence of the author.
  2. New Testament letters were occasional or situational.
  3. New Testament letters were meant to be read aloud over and over to specific congregation.
  4. The letter’s opening often includes clues to interpreting the whole letter.

Example in 1 Corinthians where Paul writes extensively about what it means to be truly spiritual as mentioned in 1 Cor 1:4–7 and he instructs Timothy about wrestling with false teaching (1 Tim 1:3–5).

The Interpretive Journey

  1. Determine the meaning of the texts in their town. Reconstruct the historical-cultural context by using Bible dictionaries and commentaries in order to discover the original situation of the biblical writer and his audience. Example, Paul’s suggestive language to Philemon, Philem. 17–22.
  2. Measure the width of the river to cross. Discover the differences and similarities between the biblical audience and your audience.
  3. Cross the river by determining the theological principles in the passage. Theological principles provide a bridge across the river of historical and cultural barriers that separate the ancient text and the contemporary audience. In the New Testament letter, the author communicates his passage in the form of theological principle. Example, Romans 12:17: “Do not repay any evil for evil.” Galatians 5:16: “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desire of the sinful nature.
  4. Apply the theological principle to individual Christians today.
  5. Identify the key elements that emerge from the intersection between the theological principles in the text and the original historical-cultural situation.
  6. Think of a parallel situation in a contemporary context that includes all the key elements.
  7. Make the application specific in the lives of your listeners in a way that is both faithful to the meaning of the text and relevant to the contemporary audience.

Sermon Keys

  1. Recreate the historical situation of the letter for the contemporary audience to enable your listeners think and feel what the biblical audience must have been experiencing.
  2. Preach the letter to clarify the thought flow of the biblical author.
  3. Know that the letters exemplify applied theology at its best.

Things to Avoid:

Do not ignore or discard either the historical or literary context.

Avoid Fallacies:

English-Only fallacy: looking up the word only in the English dictionary and ignoring the Greek word.

Root Fallacy: Thinking that the real meaning of the word must be found in its original root. For example, the Greek word hypomeno is sometimes thought to mean “remain (meno) under (hypo)” because the two different parts of the word seem to indicate its origins. But in Luke 2:43 the boy Jesus “stays behind” in Jerusalem as his parents journey home. The word can mean “stand firm,” “stand your ground, “and endure.”

Time-frame Fallacy: Preachers grab onto a late word meaning (usually today’s meaning) and read it back into the Bible.

Overload Fallacy: Not every single Greek word includes all of its meaning every time it is used. For example, the Greek word paradidomi has a range of meaning including (a) to entrust, (b) to betray, (c) to commend, (d) to instruct, and (e) to allow or permit. Overload fallacy occurs when we assume that a word like paradidomi carries not just one but all of those senses in every context.

Word-count Fallacy: This fallacy occurs when one assumes that a word must have the same meaning everything it is used. For example, the word pascho mentioned in Galatians 3:4 is translated with something like “suffer”. Six of the seven times it is used in Paul’s letter. In Galatians 3:4, it refers to the Galatians’ spiritual positive experience such as God’s gift of his Spirit and miracles. Paul is asking them if they want to give up their past spiritual experiences for the legalism of the Judaizers.

Word-concept Fallacy: Assuming that studying one word means that you have studied the entire concept. For example, to study the word “Church,” you need to study dozens of images of the church in the New Testament. For example, body, bride, building etc.

Selectiveevidence Fallacy: Selecting the word meaning that favors your interpretation of the passage and ignoring or rejecting the legitimate word meaning that goes against your view. For example, John 21:15–17 specify that agapao refers to God-like love, while Phileo refers to brotherly love

(i.e., like the city Philadelphia). A study of Phileo in the New Testament indicates that the word can also be used of God-like love (John 5:20; 16:27; 20:2; Rev. 3:19). Hence, scriptures should be interpreted based on their immediate contexts and not on the general definition of the words.

Do not funnel all sermon application into action category. Today’s listeners live in an action-oriented world, and sometimes this cultural expectation will pressure you to come up with behavioral “to do” for every application. Some passages call for a change in thinking instead of changing of behavior.

Examples

Text: 2 Timothy 3:16–17

Suggested Title: God Has Something to Say

Context: In 2 Timothy 3:1–4:5 Paul spoke to Timothy (and by extension to the church) about the godlessness of the last days and the need to stay faithful to scripture. In contrast to the long list of qualities defining the false teachers (3:1–9, 13; 4:3–5) stands the way of life and teaching of godly mentors, including their willingness to suffer. This faithful teaching is grounded in scriptures, and Paul uses the dark backdrop of godlessness and of heresy to elaborate on the nature, benefits, and purpose of Scripture in 3:16–17.

Text thesis statement: Paul instructed Timothy that all scripture was inspired by God and was useful for thorough preparing believers to do what God wants them to do.

Text outline:

  1. Paul asserted that all Scripture was inspired by God.(2 Tim. 3:16a)

2. Paul stressed that Scripture was useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16b)

3. Paul emphasized that Scripture’s purpose was to equip believers to do the good things that God wants them to do. (2 Tim. 3:17)

Crossing the bridge: In this particular case, crossing the bridge between the original situations to our day will not be difficult. You may or may not be serving as pastor or leader of a church, but you are a Christian trying to live faithfully in the midst of an abundance of false teaching. You too may be tempted to get caught up in the latest religious fad that could easily lead down the wrong road. You too may feel the weight of being responsible for what people are taught. Although the term “Scripture” here technically refers to the Old Testament, the words of Jesus and his apostles were already being assigned the same level of religious authority when 2 Timothy was written. The bridge of theological principles for 2 Timothy 3:16–17 on the nature, usefulness, and purpose of Scripture makes it easy to cross from the ancient to the contemporary audience.

Sermon thesis statement: God speaks to us through the scripture with the intent of shaping our character and preparing us to minister to others.

Sermon Outline:

  1. God is the source of all scripture. ( 2 Tim. 3:16a)

2. God uses Scripture to shape our character Tim.3:16b)

3. God uses Scripture to prepare us to minister to others. (2 Tim. 3:17)

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop the text thesis statements, a text outlines, a sermon thesis statements, and sermon outlines for Romans 12:1– 2, James 3:1–12, 1 Cor 13:1–13, and Eph 4:11–16.

PREACHING THE GOSPELS AND ACTS

Introduction:

Most of the narrative material in the New Testament is found in the Gospels and Acts. The gospels include Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These canonical gospels comprise of almost half of the New Testament known as Christological biographies or historical stories about Jesus told for particular theological purposes. While the gospels talk about the ministry and life of Jesus, the book of Acts talks about the birth and growth of the early church using narrative material interlaced with speeches from the main characters. Acts indicates how the gospel of Jesus Christ progressed triumphantly from the birthplace of Jerusalem to the leading city of the empire, Rome. It is referred as the theological history that is accurate and reliable.

Interpretive Keys

  1. Interpret the Gospels and Acts in a manner consistent with their intended purposes. The Gospels were written primarily to tell the story of Jesus while Acts was written to narrate the birth of the Church and how the advancement of the Gospels message made impart to the world.
  2. Ask the standard “story questions” that you would ask of any story: Who? What? Where? Why, and How?
  3. Pay close attention to what is emphasized within the text itself. Read individual stories within the larger context of a series of stories.
  4. Pay attention to special literary forms and interpret them appropriately.
  5. When you encounter exaggeration, ask the simple question: “What is the real point here?” Never force a literal interpretation on figurative language (e.g., suggesting that gouging out your right eye will actually prevent you from lusting). When interpreting metaphor and simile, find the point of comparisons intended by the author. Example, “You are the salt of the earth.”
  6. Finally, regarding the book of Acts, look at how its major themes run the individual stories and speeches. Luke places emphasis on how Jesus works through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit using his apostles to make impart as the apostles prayed, expressing the overall theme: “God’s Sovereignty.”

Sermon Keys

  1. Connect the sermon with the historical-cultural context to enable your audience to personally connect with the biblical story.
  2. Ground the sermon in its literary context. Look at how the passage in question fits into the larger narrative context. Watch for contrasting stories placed side by side. In Mark 4–5 after Jesus had demonstrated his power by calming the storm, casting out the demons, healing the sick woman, and raising the dead girl, he went back to his hometown of Nazareth, where their lack of faith severely limited his ministry (Mark 6: 1–6).
  3. Develop the main characters in your sermon.
  4. Treat Jesus as the main character of the story.
  5. Preserve the narrative heart of the passage, although your style of presentation may vary. The narrative heart is the theological essence of the story as revealed through the main characters and the plot line (often starting with a problem, growing into a conflict, climaxing in a solution, and concluding with a life lesson). When preaching a sermon, you can pause periodically to apply a theological principle to your audience, or you can tell the story and make application at the end of the sermon.
  6. Help your audience experience the story by engaging their senses.

Things to Avoid

  1. Avoid flattening the story into a series of descriptive, instructional points. Telling stories is more powerful than telling about stories.
  2. Avoid focusing on details of the story to the extent that your audience misses the main point.
  3. Avoid moving too quickly to resolve the conflict in the story and, as a result, killing the suspense for your audience.
  4. Finally, avoid automatically equating the ancient audience with the modern audience.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for Mark 10:35–45, Luke 18:9–14; 15:11–32; Acts 15:1–35.

PREACHING REVELATION

Introduction

The last book of the Bible describes itself in the first verse as a revelation of Jesus Christ,” an expression that functions as a title for the entire book. The term ‘revelation” (apokalypsis) suggests that something once hidden is now being unveiled or displayed openly.

Most scholars favor a date for Revelation toward the end of the first century during the reign of the Roman ruler Domitian (A.D. 81–96), the emperor who wanted his subjects to address him as dominus et deus noster (“our Lord and God”). For Christians, the earliest and most basic confession was “Jesus is Lord.” When Christians refused to confess “Caesar is Lord” in worship of the emperor, they were considered disloyal to the state and became the subject to persecution. Not every Christian in Asia Minor was standing strong against the persecution. The messages to the seven churches are filled with warnings for those tempted to turn away from Christ and compromise with the world system.

Interpretive Keys

  1. Become familiar with the historical context of the book.
  2. Know the literary context of Revelation that includes letter, prophecy, and apocalyptic.

Letter: As a letter (1:4–5; 22:21) the book is addressed to seven specific churches and because of the symbolism of the number seven, it is addressed to all churches and at all times.

Prophetic letter: This includes both prediction of the future and the proclamation of God’s truth for the present, with the emphasis falling on the letter.

Prophetic-apocalyptic letter: It comes from God, through Jesus, through an angel, through John, to the servants of God (1:1). Most scholars believe that apocalyptic grew out of Hebrew prophecy and actually represents an intensified form of prophecy written during a time of crisis. The hope delivered by apocalyptic literature is that God will soon intervene in human history to deliver his people and judge their enemies (cf. the Old Testament books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah).

  1. Honor the larger story of Revelation. As you interpret and preach the smaller sections of the book, you should do so in the light of how the entire book unfolds. The following description of the narrative framework of Revelation will help you as you prepare to preach from particular sections:

1:1–3:22–Introduction. Chapter 1 introduces us to John and describes his vision of “one like a son of man.”

4:1–5:14–Vision of God and the Lamb

6:1–8:1–Opening of the seven seals

8:2–11:19–Sounding of the seven trumpets

12:1–14:20–The people of God versus the power of evil

15:1–16:21–Pouring out of the seven bowls

17:1–19:5–The judgment of Babylon

19:6–22:5–God’s ultimate victory

22:6–21–Conclusion

  • Look to the Old Testament and to the historical context when seeking to understand Revelation’s symbols and images.
  • Focuses most importantly on the main idea and not to press on details to enable you interpret the book of Revelation. Look at the big picture of the book and narrow down to the detail to understand the book.

Sermon Keys

  1. Preach Revelation with great deal of humility.
  2. Keep larger purpose of Revelation in mind. The purpose is tied up with its powerful use of images that create a symbolic world in which readers may live during the time they read or hear the book. When they enter this symbolic world, its message affects them and changes their entire perspective on the world in which they live.
  3. Preach episodes or scenes rather than specific verses or even individual images. The book is arranged according to visions or scenes, much like New Testament letters are organized by paragraphs. When selecting a text for a sermon, ignore the verses and find the beginning and ending of a particular scene.
  4. Know that Revelation is like Old Testament prophetic literature organized around themes or topics.
  5. Avoid the temptation to outdo the book itself when it comes to images and symbols.
  6. Be careful about what relates to application of the sermons from Revelation because the book usually appeals to Christians who are facing persecution which might not be applicable to your congregation. It is best to apply the sermon to the universal body of believers who are facing persecution in the world.

Things to Avoid

  1. Do not ignore the first Century Christians in order to leapfrog into the twenty-first Century. Using today’s news paper headlines as a key to grasping the book of Revelation is a hermeneutic erroneous approach to interpreting the book.
  2. Avoid the expectation that Revelation should provide a chronological map of future events. The book certainly contains an overall chronological progression, but one gets into trouble if one attempts to arrange every detail on a single, clear-cut timeline. The book is filled with prophetic-apocalyptic versions that serve to make a dramatic impact on the reader rather than present a precise chronological sequence of future events.
  3. Avoid taking everything literally when interpreting and preaching the book of Revelation.
  4. Finally, when interpreting and preaching Revelation, avoid the pressure to superimpose on Revelation as a prepackaged theological system without letting the book to speak for itself. Revelation is one of the most powerful theological works in Scripture, but it should be approached on its own terms. For example, to interpret 4:1–2 as the rapture of the church is an attempt to find in Revelation a reference to an event that exempts the church from facing tribulation. These verses, however, clearly refer to John’s personal prophetic experience that occurs several times in Revelation (17:2; 21:9–10), rather than to the church collectively. There are many places where Revelation resists systematization, and the wise preacher will follow suit.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for a passages addressed to one of seven churches in Revelation 2–3, Revelation 7, and Revelation 21:1–8.

PART TWO

PREACHING OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVES

Introduction

The Old Testament narratives are stories told that resonate with believers today just as they have for many millennia. They are stories that draw us right into the action and force us to engage with the great biblical issues of life, faith, doubt, courage, love, loyalty, and holiness. They bring us face to face with God himself.

Interpretive Keys

  1. The Old Testament narratives should not be considered as loosely connected conglomeration of biographies or unrelated miracle stories, but they should be recognized as theological history of how God related to his covenant people.
  2. Pay close attention to literary context. The stories must be placed within the larger story, and the theology that you derive from any narrative text must be one that fits smoothly into the surrounding context. For example, one of the major themes running throughout much of 1 Samuel is the contrast between Saul (the king the people wanted) and David (the king God wanted).
  3. To accurately interpret the biblically based theology of the Old Testament, one must deal fairly with large chunks of text. In the Old Testament narrative, the smallest story unit that is coherent can stretch to an entire chapter, and on occasion, run to several chapters.
  4. Characters in the Old Testament narrative should be studied thoroughly. The Old Testament stories are filled with colorful characters, and these characters often provide both positive and negative models for us (David vs. Saul, Hannah/Samuel vs. Eli/wicked sons, etc.).

Sermon Keys

  1. Connect your audience into the historical setting of the narrative text you are preaching. Sermons that refer to an Old Testament narrative briefly and then zoom off immediately into a “spiritualized” or allegorical understanding of the text are, in reality, denying the historicity of the event.
  2. Simply put stories communicated differently than essay do. The Old Testament stories are alive and colorful and they connect with people at both the emotional level and intellectual level.
  3. The Old Testament narratives present a theological purpose that is fascinating and aesthetically crafted for the purpose of maximizing their theological impact on the audience.

Things to Avoid

  1. Avoid skipping over the context and authorically embedded meaning completely and rushing straight to a ‘spiritualized,” fuzzy-feely message loosely connected to some word or phrase in the text.
  2. Avoid forcing all of the characters in the narrative to be positive role models. Many of these characters are presented as models for Christians providing patterns and examples of faithful living before God; notwithstanding, it is essential to discern the good guys from the bad guys.

Conclusion

The Old Testament communicates wealth of theological truth that is useful and relevance in the Christians lives today. Preaching from the Old Testament narratives can be fun and exciting. Through the Old Testament texts, you have the tools to edify the church by strengthening your people and helping them to mature in their walk with God.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for 2 Kings 1:1–17; 2:1–18; 1 Kings 18:16–46; Genesis 39: 1–23.

PREACHING THE LAWS

Introduction

The Old Testament contains many laws that seem strange to us today. If we do preach them, how can we communicate to our audience today? In today’s world, Christians violate a number of Old Testament laws with some regularity. If we are to preach them, we must follow the interpretive keys in order to carry out sound biblical interpretation that is accurate, reliable, and balance with the New Testament approach.

Interpretive Keys

  1. Recognize the limitations of the traditional and popular approach of categorizing the laws as civil, ceremonial, or moral. Under this approach neither the civil nor the ceremonial laws apply to Christians today. Note the categories of civil, ceremonial, or moral are arbitrary and are not indicated in scriptures.
  2. Recognize that the law is not presented in the Bible by itself as some sort of timeless universal legal code, but rather as part of the theological story that describes how God delivered Israel from Egypt and established them in the Promised Land as his people.
  3. Know that the law is tightly intertwined into the Mosaic covenant and should be interpreted accordingly.
  4. The law should be interpreted through the grid of New Testament teaching.
  5. The Old Testament should be interpreted by following interpretive journey.

Sermon Keys

  1. When preaching the Old Testament law, the appropriate size of the text that you should cover can vary dramatically. Sermons should be preached from a coherent unit of text, one that has some definable breaks in the context that identify it as a literary unit.
  2. The passage should be tied into the literary and historical context of the original biblical audience before bringing the situation to your audience with relative to its theological principle and application.
  3. The Old Testament law should be preached in light of the overarching theological principles that function like themes in the legal material. For example, in Exodus, after God led the Israelites out of Egypt, he made a covenant with them. A critical part of the covenant was God’s promise to dwell among them in a real, literal sense. This was a promise of God’s presence, which had powerful implications for fellowship and empowerment.

Things to Avoid

  1. Do not put your audience back under the legalism of the Old Testament law.
  2. Do not ignore the original meaning and the historical/cultural context and to engage in imaginative allegory.
  3. In preaching the Old Testament legal material, the parallel made between the meaning in their town and the meaning in our town should not be compared or parallel with the political entity of our time. In developing principles ad making connections today, the common feature that helps us cross the principalizing bridge is the concept of the “people of God.”

Conclusion

Preaching the Old Testament law requires avoiding the breakdown into civil, ceremonial, and moral categories; instead, each law should be preached through exegetical method presented through the interpretive journey. Attention should be made to each book in order to find the universal principles that can be applied to the Christians lives today.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for Exodus 20:1–8; Deuteronomy 16:1–8; 16:9–12; Leviticus 22:17–25.

PREACHING THE PROPHETS

Introduction

The Old Testament prophets are challenging and rewarding materials in the Bible to preach. The prophets were preachers and they used often colorful, figurative, and emotional language that communicated their message with power, anguish, and majesty.

Interpretive Keys

  1. Know that the prophetic books in the Old Testament are anthologies. They are collections of material such as oracles, sermons, narrative events, and visions that are loosely grouped together by broad themes. They are not structured by tight logic like the book of Romans and their main themes often repeat over and over especially in the larger books like Isaiah and Jeremiah.
  2. Know the function and message of the prophets. Prophets serve as God’s prosecuting attorneys, accusing and warning the people that their violation of the covenant will have serious consequences. Their message is focused in the below listed areas:
  1. Repentance=Idolatry/Social injustice/Religious formalism

2. Judgment

3. Hope

Sermon Keys

  1. Take one or more of the three main themes or three main indictments (repentance, judgment, and hope) on the interpretive journey from the historical context (their town) to today’s situation (our town).

Things to Avoid

  • Do not ignore the actual Old Testament historical context. This is true not only as you prepare the sermon but also in your presentation of the sermon. Explain the Old Testament historical context of the passage to your audience before preaching the sermon.
  • The other extreme to avoid, of course, is staying in the old covenant for your practical and application theology. As in our discussion concerning the law, you want to be careful that you do not become one of the “Judaizers.” All of the theological principles or practical theology that you present to your audience must go through the New Testament grid of Jesus Christ and his amazing grace.
  • Remember that you are a prophetic New Testament Christian preacher, not an Old Testament prophet. Your job is to proclaim God’s word that was revealed through the prophets.

Conclusion

The Old Testament prophets proclaim the same three themes over and over. They declared that (1) God’s people have broken the covenant and must repent immediately; (2) since they will not repent, judgment is coming; and (3) beyond the judgment there is a hope for future restoration and a new covenant. Likewise, the prophets underscore three main sins of the people; idolatry, social injustice, and religious formalism.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a text sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for Isaiah 43:1–7, Micah 6:6–9, and Jeremiah 10:1–10.

PREACHING PSALMS AND WISDOM LITERATURES

Introduction

In this section, we will discuss interpreting and preaching the Psalms and the wisdom books. However, the genre of Psalms and the genre of the wisdom literature are quite different, and when you interpret and preach them, it is important to keep that difference in mind. The Psalms and the wisdom books will be discussed separately.

Interpretive Keys for the Psalms

  1. Understand the function of Psalms. The primary function of the book of Psalms is to give us inspired models of how to talk and sing to God. The Psalms provide us with inspired models of how to meditate about God–that is, how to think reflectively about God and what he has done for us.
  2. Understand the poetic nature of Psalms. One of the ways that Psalms connects emotionally to readers is through poetry. Example, “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy” (Ps 142:1).
  3. Categorize the Psalm you are studying by form and content. By categories, there are Praise Psalms, Lamented Psalms, and Thanksgiving Psalms.
  4. Be sure to keep the literary context in mind. Treat each Psalm as an independent unit in isolation from its literary context.
  5. Keep the proper Christological emphasis for the Psalms. Most of the Psalms are not directly messianic, but several have strong prophetic, messianic elements (Ps. 22, 110), and many, especially the royal/enthronement Psalms, have historical meaning that finds ultimate fulfillment for Christians in the eschatological reign of Christ.

Interpretive Keys for the Wisdom Books

  1. Know that the four books balance each other theologically, and any one of them read out of the context of the others can be easily misunderstood. Each of the four wisdom books (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs) makes a different contribution to the believer’s education in wise living.
  2. Remember that the most critical thing to observe when studying and preaching Proverb is that individual Proverbs reflect general nuggets of wisdom, not universal truths.
  3. Know that the book of Job is a strong counterbalance to the book of Proverbs, dealing with one of life’s great exception to the norms expressed in Proverbs.
  4. Know that Ecclesiastes is an intellectual search for life that presents another exception or qualification to the ordered norms of Proverbs.
  5. Know that the Song of Songs speaks openly and joyfully of human sexuality. It is a collection of love poems between a young man and a young woman.

Sermon Keys for Psalms

  1. Develop the sermon along the lines determined by the form/structural category that the Psalm falls in.
  2. Know that each Psalm usually expresses a complete unit of thought; therefore, it is advisable to preach an entire Psalm.

Sermon Keys for the Wisdom Books

  1. The sermon key for the wisdom books relates to Proverbs and involves deciding which text and how much text to use in your sermon. The answer depends on which section of the Proverbs you are preaching.
  2. Second, the book of Job is a story with a dramatic and somewhat unexpected ending. It is hazardous to preach small parts of the book without placing that small part firmly in the context of the entire story.
  3. Third, passage in Ecclesiastes must be preached in light of the overall message, especially the ending.
  4. Fourth, sermons from Song of Songs are appropriate or preaching series that deal with marriage.

Things to Avoid–Psalms

  1. Be sure to keep in mind that we are no longer under the old Mosaic covenant of law but under the new covenant of grace.
  2. Make the difference between the present tense verbs and future tense verbs in the texts from Psalm a big issue in your sermon or a part of one of your main points.
  3. Finally, when preaching Psalm, do not force your audience to put on dishonestly pious masks before each other and to try to act as if everything is fine when in reality they are suffering and struggling.

Things to Avoid–Wisdom Books

  1. When you preach wisdom books, it is critical to understand how they balance each other.
  2. Finally, do not allegorize the Song of Songs into a book about Christ and the church. Let the book speak to building strong marriages.

Conclusion

As you make out your preaching schedule for the year, be sure to include several sermons from Psalms. As you preach the Psalms, you will be able to connect with those of your congregation who are hurting and crying out in pain and confusion. You will be able to help them to feel accepted, to cry out honestly to God, and then to move on to acknowledging God’s great promised deliverance. Likewise, you can preach the Psalms as worship, leading your people to praise God for his wonderful and mighty acts of salvation for both those in the Bible and for his people today. And don’t overlook the Wisdom books. These books speak especially to today’s postmodern audience, giving God’s advice for godly living–guidelines for those searching for meaning in life, for direction in ethical behavior, and for strong healthy marriages.

Review Questions and Assignments

Develop a text thesis statement, a text outline, a sermon thesis statement, and a sermon outline for Psalm 3; Psalm 111, and Proverbs 31:10–31.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Carter, T.G., Duvall, J.C., & Hays, J.D. Preaching God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Preparing, Developing, and Delivering the Sermon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.