Recently we returned to regularly reading through the Psalms together on a Sunday. For some people this might seem like a strange practice. Aren’t the psalms a little bit random and archaic, and isn’t it confusing to be reading parts of the bible that we’re not then going to have explained?
Well, here are some brief thoughts of mine to help us understand why we’re reading through the Psalms and to help each of us engage with them as we do so.
It is good for us to have plenty of bible in our gatherings
If we believe that the bible is the word of God, then our Sunday gatherings should contain plenty of reading from the bible. This is part and parcel in fact, of creating a culture of ‘total bible saturation’ in our church. In fact it is a little bit odd that often churches like ours, who say they take the bible very seriously on paper, have often devised services and gatherings with a minimum of bible in them. Someone could get the impression that our words to God are far more important that his words to us, which surely is the wrong way round? Punctuating our gatherings with plenty of scripture can and should take many forms – reading whole passages of the bible, including those that aren’t going to feature in the preaching that day, is one of the ways we can do that and demonstrate that the words of God, and not our words, have first place in our lives.
The psalms are significant for piecing the bible together
In some ways the Psalms is like a theological reflection on the history, laws and wisdom of the rest of the OT. Therefore it’s no surprise therefore that the Psalms is one of the most-quoted books in the New Testament. The psalms are fundamental to our understanding of Jesus’ life and mission.
The psalms are a help to us in the reality of life
The 150 songs and prayers in the Psalms cover an incredibly broad range of circumstances and emotions. This makes them of immense value pastorally, helping us work through anger, loss, fear, doubt, joy, sickness within covenant relationship with God our Father.
The psalms are important for prayer and worship
(Almost) unique amongst the whole of the bible, the Psalms aren’t simply God’s words to us, many of them are also words given to us by God for us to say back to him. As such the Psalms are the prayer or song book of the bible – the place where God teaches us how to speak with him. It is no surprise that for centuries the Psalms have been pretty crucial to the corporate worship of God’s people.
We may find the Psalms odd and unfamiliar at times, but part of how they get to work in our hearts and minds. By inviting us, daring us even, to take their words and ideas and expressions on our lips, the psalms change us and shape the way we relate to God.
For all these reasons, and more, the psalms have usually played a significant part in the corporate worship of God’s people. Getting to know them and praying them together is very worthwhile.
Pete is married to Claire and they have two children, Noah and Seth. Pete trained at Oak Hill Theological College and then worked for four years as an Associate Minister at Christ Church Central. As a born and bred Yorkshireman, and a devotee of his adopted city Sheffield, Pete is delighted to be able to serve as the Pastor of Christ Church Walkley. Pete loves cricket, music.