DIG THIS: If you click on no other links in today’s post, make sure to click on this one: The Psalms from Ghana will have you snapping your fingers all day long!
When I was a kid, most of our worship songs consisted of Bible verses to which we vigorously danced. If you haven’t heard of the Holy Spirit Hop, you’re missing out. Other verses were sung to slow, prayerful tunes in minor keys. Many of them were from the Psalms, and I can’t read a chapter today without seeing my Grandma Roberta playing the organ, red hair bouncing and freckled limbs flying. Her feet worked the long line of pedals and her fingers leapt from one keyboard to the other. She didn’t need a gym to get a good workout. If you don’t believe me, watch Todd Grivetti.
Having grown up with songs like “I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever,” I was shocked when my friend said that the Psalms are kinda scary, and tough for her to get through. I read them again and well, I can understand how a globally minded, grace-blessed, peace-loving person might be jarred by King David asking God to “Consume them in wrath!” Psalm 59:13 He even shouts to his enemies, “Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!” Psalm 137:9 NKJV
Err… Dude, are you okay?
Permission to Feel
I adore him anyway. Here’s why: David left 150 songs of raw, unabashedly human emotion. His extreme joy, dark anguish and steady trust give me permission to admit to my own feelings. His flow teaches me how to cope. He expressed himself a little differently than I might, but our lives are significantly different. Slavery and invasion happened on his street and not just on the internet. Psalm 137 was written as a response from slaves whose captors demanded a song for entertainment. My days are spent doing the things I love with people I enjoy; David was hunted by murderous gangs. During his early years, he lived in caves, hiding from jealous King Saul, and in old age he was forced to run from his previously trusted advisors and his own homicidal son, Absalom. He didn’t want to kill them, but he didn’t want to be killed either. Even when he was on the throne, he wasn’t exactly sheltered—he was in politics.
Feel but Don’t Fold
In poetic detail, he expressed frustration and fear but never let them drive him down. He’d give his heart space to talk and then respond with peace and stillness:
Psalm 42:5 NKJVWhy are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”
Keep Gold in Your Pocket
He inserted many songs that were 100% joyful, because life is never all bad. It’s full of little perfect moments, and we need to stamp them and carry them with us, like those souvenir coins you make at Silver Dollar City.
Psalm 16:5 NIV Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; sure I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”
In Psalm 77, he was sick to death of conflict. He recounted, “I would not be comforted.” So he reached into his pocket.
Psalm 77:10 NIV Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out His right hand. 11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes I will remember Your miracles of long ago. 12 I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”
That process. That is why the Psalms are so important. I’m going to talk about this more over the next couple of days, but for today talk to God. Read one or more of the Psalms I’ve mentioned and reflect on which one connects to you right now. The Bible isn’t a textbook that we read all the way through, take a final and move on to the next class. We read a little for history, to see how God spoke to people in their own language in different eras; we read for a deeper understanding of our relationship with Him; and we read after praying, expecting God to point out verses that He is saying specifically to us today.
Lord, we open our hearts to hear Your voice. Psalms is a lesson in diversity for some, strange but insightful. It’s a journal of a life lived in companionship with You, and we can think of nothing that would be better. Guide us as we read today.