New Beginning: Why Read Psalms?

I have decided to read the book of Psalms.  Why?  Because I need an aid to my life of praise and worship.  I am stronger by far in my study of the Bible than I am in prayer, or worship/praise.

Before we get stuck into the book of Psalms, there are a couple of points to navigate.  Firstly, what is worship?  For many of us, “worship time” has become synonymous with “song time”.  In fact, at the Barrington campus I was trying to get Jr. Highers to realise that worship does not equal singing, but because their experience so strongly coloured their perspective the word worship was welded to the word singing for them.

Worship means ascribing due worth to something or someone.  In my wedding ceremony I promised to ‘worship’ my wife.  I neither made her an idol, nor promised to sing to her forever.  I agreed to value her as a God-created woman, made in the image of God.  I agreed never to devalue her.

The highest object of worship is our highest object of value.  If we value money above all else, if we spend our time worrying about it, if we put a dollar value on everything, then we worship money in an unhealthy way.  If we place all of our energy, all of our time, all of our finances, and all of our thinking at God’s disposal then we are living lives of worship.

One aspect of ascribing value to God is to declare his worth in song.  This is the worship that we find in the Psalms.  The Psalms give us an idea of how to ascribe to God his proper worth.

Praise is a slightly different concept.  We all speak highly about things that we value.  We give praise where it is due.  If it is true that God created the world and sustains it moment by moment, I would say that is an act worthy of praise.  However, the psalmists know God to be intimately involved with all of Creation in a personal way.  Each day a right-minded person sees more acts that are performed by God.  Each day there is something new to praise God for.

Finally, psalms are songs that were originally written for large groups of people to sing at the temple.  These are not private prayers of personal reflection.  We are not breaking open David’s diary.  We are seeing songs that he and others wrote for the whole world to sing.  Of course, they have personal application.  However, they are also a model for modern song writers who want to glorify God with their craft.

Going Deeper

  1. How do you feel about poetry?
  2. Do you have some favourite poems?
  3. How are songs and poetry a comfort and a help to us?
  4. What is chiasmus?
  5. What is parallelism?
  6. How does technically understanding poetry help a person grow closer to God?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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