Today we begin our journey through Psalms: Book I (chapters 1–41). Psalms is a unique and special book in the Bible.
It is the songbook of the people of God. It is the place that teaches how to pray. It models for us how to talk to and about God. Along with Isaiah and Deuteronomy, it’s the most referenced Old Testament book by the New Testament writers. It was meaningful to them. It can be meaningful for us.
The psalms do not exist to provide us with propositional statements about God or about the human experience. Rather, they provide snapshots into what human life with God feels like.
This isn’t systematic theology. This is poetry.
Here’s one trick to reading a poem: You have to read it slowly. Slllooooowwwwllllyyyy.
Absorb it. Every word. Take the time to craft every image in your imagination. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it taste and smell like? What would it feel like to be standing right there?
Psalm 1: Here is a prayer for wisdom, for knowing the right way to live, for discerning right from wrong.
This is an appropriate poem-prayer to kick-off the collection of Psalms. The last line contrasts the way of the righteous and the wicked. This whole book shows us what the way of the righteous looks like.
Psalm 2: Here is a prayer for worldly leaders, for presidents and politicians, for prime ministers and dictators, for global summits and international organizations.
It graphically illustrates God’s role above the kings of the earth, and God’s Anointed. In this context, the Anointed is the king of Israel, probably David in this situation. The Hebrew word is Messiah, and the early church saw Jesus in this poem-prayer (see Acts 4:23–31).
Psalm 3: Here is a prayer for protection from enemies, a reminder of hope that God is near in the midst of crisis. The title provides a historical context, Absalom’s rebellion against David. David’s own son has made him an exile and he’s running for his life. For the backstory, see 2 Samuel 15.
How can you make these your prayers today?