Reading or praying the Psalms is something that we could spend a lifetime doing.
In fact over years of worship, both Jewish and many Christian communities do weekly chant or read these words over and over again. So if you are worshipping regularly, there is a good chance that you are spending a lifetime praying these words.
Each Psalm is so different than the one before it and the one after it that it is hard to reflect on the Psalms as a whole. But I do have to say that the Psalms which had historical references or were attributed to David took on new and deeper meaning this reading since we have so recently read David’s story. When I read all the references to taking refuge in God – in the shadow of God’s wings and the rock on my salvation – it was much more vivid when I imagined David hiding in the caves from Saul. Thank goodness that most of us do not have enemies who are literally trying to take our lives but David did – the Philistines at times, his own king, Saul, and other armies. For years I read these and appreciated them because all of us run from evil things in our lives but reading them in a Bible that notes several references to David’s personal life, brought new meaning to them for me. I think the one that most grew on me was Psalm 51. This is often used during Lent in our tradition but reading it in reference to David’s great sin with Bathsheba was very helpful.
The second half of the collection are less historical but many still have references to the Israelite’s communal story of faith. Even though many had deep meaning when they were first written, the Psalms are also timeless because human emotions have not changed. We still find great joy in worshipping God. We still have trouble finding God in the midst of personal or national tragedies. All of us are still enriched when we study and mediate on God’s word which many of the Psalms command us to do.
In many ways by reading through these hymns of praise so quickly, we have not done them justice. So I encourage you to read them slowly in the future and really spend some time with these great liturgical treasures. But in the meantime, if you read or sing a Psalm in church this week (remember several hymns are based on Psalms too!), pay extra close attention to it. You may find that that it speaks as clearly to you as it did to David or the first worshipers!
I challenge you to find one or two Psalms that speak to you and share them on facebook. I know all of my friends can use some words of hope from God, can’t yours?