Not the First, and Not the Last: Praying the Psalms

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Why are you cast down, o my soul?” –(Psalm 42:2)

(July 14th) This feels like a question I’m constantly having…

Let’s be honest, if you grew up calling yourself Christian, you’ve probably viewed the Psalms, at some point like Hallmark cards: nice to have but otherwise not really useful. Ok, maybe that’s not true for everyone but it was for me.

For the longest time, I didn’t understand why the Psalms were in the Bible. I always understood that each book of the Bible was written by someone, inspired by God, but the purpose of the Book of Psalms (along with some other books in the Bible coughcoughSongsofSolomoncoughcough) just went over my head.

One week at IVLI, we had this wonderfully charismatic speaker named Ruth come speak to us for the whole week about the Psalms. Her message was really simple the first night she spoke, and maybe it was that simplicity that I never really had before when it came to the Psalms being explained to me before that made something so obvious in retrospect finally click: “Psalms were and are used as public worship and personal prayers…they tell the truth about who God is, what He has done”.

See, something so simple totally made things click.

Before, I was really confused why there was something in the Bible where someone not only praised God but also seemed to be yelling, angry, wondering why God had forsaken him. “Shouldn’t there just be praising?” I thought. But face forwards the Psalms a couple of thousands of years, add modern lingo, and maybe even some emo music/a Taylor Swift breakup song and you have basically any Christian today.

For me the Psalms do these things:

  • Like Ruth said, “they tell the truth about who God is, what He has done”.
  • They show a very real and a very human reaction in all circumstance and how we should STILL turn to God in praise, even when we feel far from Him.
  • They show that we’re not a “bad Christian” for sometimes feeling the way we do.
  • They give us a framework, words we can pray during those times when we’re not sure what to say to God. God I feel so unlovable but in Psalm 139:4 it says that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ by you so I’ll take comfort in that…”

So the Psalms have been redeemed in my eyes. They’re a reminder to praise God in the good and in the bad. They show that God, Yahweh, is a good that is not some high and lofty god but a God that you can be honest with, that you can pray “God, life sucks. Are you even there right now because I’ll admit, sometimes I lose hope but I’ll continue to cling to you because you reign, because you are a merciful God, and I know you have things in store for me.”   

“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – (Psalm 73:26).

Amen.

 

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