One of my favourite poets is Winnie-the-Pooh. He wrote some really cool poems like this:
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la, Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
Tiddle-iddle, tiddle-iddle, Tiddle-iddle, tiddle-iddle
I also like Roald Dahl’s poems. He wrote some really disgusting poems like this:
Dear friends, we surely all agree
There’s almost nothing worse to see
Than some repulsive little bum
Who’s always chewing chewing gum.
(It’s very near as bad as those
Who sit around and pick the nose).
So please believe us when we say
That chewing gum will never pay;
This sticky habit’s bound to send
The chewer to a sticky end.
Poems are cool. Poems can be fun. But poems can also be profound and life-changing.
Today we’re continuing our walk through the Bible and we’re up to the book of Psalms.
The Psalms are the poems of God.
As such, after thousands of years, they still touch the soul like no other poetry. They bring light to dim lives, guidance for the lost, comfort for the hurting, instruction for the simple and the wise, prophecy for the spiritually hungry and a perspective of praise.
One of the reasons the Psalms still strike us so richly is because they are not philosophy. They are not merely moral teachings. They are not even primarily theology.
They are revelation. They are the word and the mind of God revealed to us.
As such, when we read and pray the words of the Psalms, we are actually praying the words of scripture back to God. This is a very healthy and powerful thing. We are no longer praying from the often wayward concerns of our hearts but rather we are learning to pray in accordance with God’s will and in a spirit which is righteous and pleasing to God.
Some background on the Psalms:
The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 poems. The Psalms were composed over a span of about one thousand years. The earliest was by Moses (Psalm 90) in the fifteenth century B.C., and a couple appear to be contemporary with the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century B.C. (Psalms 126 and 137). David wrote 73 of the Psalms, Moses wrote one, 25 are written by other named guys, and almost a third of the writers are unknown.
Jesus referred to the Psalms frequently. He taught from the Psalms. He sang from the Psalms at the last supper. He quoted the Psalms on the cross and died with the words of the Psalms on His lips. The Psalms are a big deal!
The early church frequently referred to the Psalms.
It inspired them in times of persecution (Acts 4:25).
It was part of the apostles’ preaching (Acts 2:25, 13:33).
It became central to their theology and belief in Christ (Heb 1:6,10-13;2:6-8; 5:6; 10:5-7).
The Psalms are a big deal!
But today, I don’t just want to study the Psalms in an academic sense, although there is value to that. I want to let the Psalms touch your life. I want you to hear God speaking into your heart through His poetry. I want you to enjoy God through His revealed Word.
So let’s look at 5 Psalms today.
Psalm 1. A Psalm of guidance. The Psalms have
There can be a feeling that poetry is nice but impractical. Sweet sounding words for us to enjoy but of little real practical value for our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth with the Psalms. This would help explain why the Psalms have remained so widely read throughout the ages. And this rugged practicality is true of Psalm 1.
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 22 – A Psalm of prophecy. The most frequently quoted psalm in the New Testament. Psalm 22 all by itself is enough to convince me that the Bible is the revelation of God. This psalm contains numerous clear prophetic references to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ about 1000 years before they took place. (Not whole psalm for time purposes.) Listen and be amazed.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he
delights in him.”
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
Psalm 23 – A Psalm of comfort. Arguably the most famous psalm of all, it is often read at funerals or other times of distress. It is a solemn reminder that God is our Great Shepherd, our Great Comfort and that we find our rest and our fulfillment in Him.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 51 – A Psalm of confession and repentance. One of the things that amazes me about King David was that he was so in touch with the heart of God. We can learn to turn to God by following David’s example, but David didn’t have such an example. He was the example. He relied on the teachings of the Pentateuch and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And so it is that David is described as “a man after the heart of God”. Psalm 51 tells us that no matter how badly we sin, how far we find ourselves from God, there is a way back to Him and He is merciful. (Not whole psalm for time purposes.)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalm 150 – A Psalm of praise. Whether we’re enjoying good times, or going through hard times, God is always worthy of praise. You’ll find that virtually every psalm of anguish in the Bible – every one that cries out to God in desperate need – concludes with words of praise. It’s a wonderful model for us when we cry out to God in anguish or in need. And it’s also fitting that the book of Psalms finish with a psalm of praise.
1 Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Can I encourage you take make the Psalms a regular part of your Bible reading? Some people set a day of the week aside (often Sunday) to focus on the Psalms. Others follow their regular Bible reading program in the morning but end the day with a Psalm. Whatever works best for you, let me encourage you to make the Psalms – and with them the revelation of God – a central part of your life.