How I Love the Psalms!
There are times in our lives where we are forced to rely on God and to trust in Him. Too often, we take Him for granted in sin and carry on our day-to-day lives in our own strength. But moments come which expose our self-reliance and remind us of our dependence on God. Such an event recently happened in my family’s life, and I have found the Psalms to be a refreshing fount of living water for us. As a result, the Psalms have become a precious gift to my family in the midst of our struggles, and I want to share with you some of the blessings that we have found by listening to them afresh.
Reorients Our Focus
In the midst of our trials, we are tempted to dwell on our circumstances and on ourselves. During this time, we can even ignore God or pull away from Him. But David and the other inspired psalm writers knew that it is exactly during these times that we need to focus on God the most. They wrote these Psalms as they drew close to God when they faced challenges, hardships, and wickedness.
At the same time, there is a refreshing honesty in what they wrote. They pour out their hearts as they struggle. They ask God questions. They wrestle with his apparent absence. They can even challenge God as they consider life in this corrupt and evil world. How easy it is for us to identify with them in their struggles. How frequently we see ourselves in similar situations and circumstances. How often we find our own thoughts reflected in what they say to God. And in the midst of it all, we are led to reflect on our great God. The Psalms lead us to refocus on Him and rest in His love and grace.
Replenishes Our Souls
When we focus on God, our souls are replenished. The Psalms cover all seasons of life with all emotions laid bare. While most modern worship music is happy and uplifting, the Psalms probe much more deeply into our souls’ struggles. We are confronted with our sinfulness, we are encouraged with God’s promised blessings, and we are assured that God’s justice will prevail.
It is this kind of heart work that restores our souls. The Psalms lead us to repent of our sins, remember God’s faithfulness, and rejoice in God’s sovereign purposes. They give us the strength we need through the illumination of the Holy Spirit to not only endure in our trials but also to enjoy God in the midst of them. Our souls are satisfied in Him alone.
Recognizes Our Unity
We tend to overly privatize our reading of Scripture, especially with the Psalms. While the Psalms were written by individuals, they were composed to be sung together by God’s people. So as we read the Psalms, we should not only think of our personal relationship with God. We should recognize the voices of His church joining together in the midst of our trials and tribulations.
When a member of the church suffers, we all suffer. And the Psalms direct us to encourage and support one another in our struggles. We sing, we strengthen, and we serve. This is the life of the body of Christ. The Psalms call us to this unity of love for one another as we are involved in each other’s lives.
Reveals Our Hope
Finally and most importantly, the Psalms reveal Christ to us. He is our hope and our salvation! Is it any surprise then to know that the most common book quoted in the New Testament is the Psalms? Whatever happens to us in this world, if we have Christ then we are secure in Him. Our circumstances may be difficult, our health may fail, our bodies may return to the ground in death, but our Savior has been raised from the dead to give us eternal life!
The Psalms are filled with Christ and the salvation that we receive in Him. So we must not read the Psalms without Christ, but see how He fulfills the very words of the Psalms. When Christ is revealed to us through the Psalms, we have a steadfast hope in our trials and a Savior who has endured the greatest trial of all for us through His death on the cross. What comfort and confidence we have in Christ!
This is why John Calvin wrote of the Psalms: “There is no other book in which there is to be found more express and magnificent commendations, both of the unparalleled liberality of God towards his Church, and of all his works; there is no other book in which there is recorded so many deliverances, nor one in which the evidences and experiences of the fatherly providence and solicitude which God exercises towards us, are celebrated with such splendor of diction, and yet with the strictest adherence to truth; in short, there is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise.” Brothers and Sisters in Christ, may we all grow in our love for the Psalms!