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What Luther Says

ZITAT: 'A Little Bible'

Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun) is translated to "zitat" in German.

That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post. That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good Lutheran quotes that encourage prayerful consideration and deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and the Lutheran confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). It helps me in my journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran (and not just a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only"). Here's the latest.

The Psalter ought to be a dear and beloved book, if only because it promises Christ's death and resurrection so clearly and depicts His kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom that we may call it a little Bible. Most beautifully and briefly it embraces everything in the entire Bible; it is made into a fine enchiridion, or handbook. Therefore it seems to me that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble of compiling a short Bible and a book of examples of all Christendom or of all saints, with this purpose in mind that whoever could not read the whole Bible would here have practically an entire summary of it, comprised in one booklet. ... 
The Psalter is the book of all saints, and everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds psalms and words in it that fit his situation and apply to his case so exactly that it seems they were put in this way only for his sake. ... 
*- Martin Luther 
(Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says, St. Louis: Concordia, 1959, #3167.)

Have you ever read the Book of Psalms?

So many of the Bible studies I've ever done or seen over the years that were based on the psalms were about ME with Christ as a mere afterthought or a means to an end. That's a problem, folks.

I once read that "the Old Testament psalms not only permit us to see Christ in them, they require it." According to one source,

Martin Luther loved the Psalter! It was his daily prayer book as a monk, the topic of his initial lectures as a professor, and an important part of his piety.

Through Luther's short introductions to the psalms, he gives us a glimpse into his theology and prayer life. Most importantly, he shows us that he truly understood the Psalter as a Christ centered book and shows how he prayed each psalm as a Christian prayer.

The Publisher of one book I remembered I have in my new library points out that Luther had a twofold approach to the psalms.

First, he classifies each as a psalm of prophecy, instruction, comfort, prayer, or thanks -- or some combination of the above. For Luther, he psalms carried their content beyond the original writer and original setting. They are words of prophecy, instruction, comfort, prayer, and thanks for us today. 
Second, Luther assigns each psalm to one of the Ten Commandments and to one of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer. He says that the psalms "belong to," "flow from," or even "are in" these petitions and Commandments. In actual practice, he related nearly all the psalms to the first three Commandments -- having one God, honoring His name, hearing His Word -- and to the first three petitions -- concerning God's name, His kingdom, and His will. The other Commandments and petitions merely fill out what these first three express. 
Luther discontinued this second classification scheme after Psalm 31. In a long comment at that point, he declares that the reader has seen enough examples to understand the insight that the psalmist and every Christian can find in the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.

In addition, I love how the same Publisher also comments on Luther's humility and reverence for the Lord and His holy Word as he wanted to keep things in their proper perspective at all times.

If anyone is pleased with my poor assistance by these summaries, I ask the he not insert them into the Psalter between the psalms. I prefer to see the text stand alone by itself, unmixed with anything else. Some of these summaries are really brief commentary, and it would not be proper if, placed in the middle of the text, these summaries would loom larger than the psalms themselves. With this, may God bless you. Amen.

I think it's time I read the 'Little Bible' to better understand Christ for me.

Read properly, the Psalter is a Christ centered text where everything relates to Jesus Christ.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, I'm excited to begin doing a daily devotion on the Little Bible using Reading The Psalms With Luther: The Psalter For Individual & Family Devotions With Introduction By Martin Luther as my teaching aide, because Luther's approach to the psalms is notable, particularly because it is so Christ centered as it should be.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that perhaps wouldn't be too big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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