Why re-read the Psalms?


This month 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 on to explain?

Well, here are some brief thoughts of mine to help us understand why we’re doing this, and to help us engage with the Psalms. 

Firstly, there’s the general principle that it is good for us to have plenty of bible in our gatherings

We believe that the bible is the word of God, the Father’s testimony about and through his Son, breathed by the Spirit. Therefore our Sunday gatherings should be saturated in the bible. Moreover, it would be odd if our services gave the overall impression that our words spoken to God are more important than his words to us. Or that the only time the bible can be read is when someone is going to preach from it. This is one of the reasons we try to have scripture read, taught and sung at various points throughout our gatherings. 

But why the Psalms in particular? Here are three of the many reasons:

The Psalms are significant for piecing the bible together

In some ways the Psalms is like a poetic reflection on the history, laws and wisdom of the rest of the OT. It’s no surprise that Psalms is one of the most-quoted books in the New Testament. Jesus and the apostles clearly saw them as fundamental to understanding Jesus’s identity, 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, all 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. 

The Bible Project has a helpful video giving an overview of the content and message of the Psalms...

... and we did a short series on Psalms 1 & 2 which can be found here.

Tumbling Sky

Alyssa Fanthome, a member of Christ Church Walkley tells us about the book she's been reading through Lent here - 

For the past few years I have read a book, together with some friends, in the run up to Christmas (Advent) and the run up to Easter (Lent).  This Lent we are reading Tumbling Sky together.  It’s a devotional book on the Psalms for “Weary Souls.”  We read the devotional each day and then send each other messages about what we have taken from the reading and our prayer for the day.  We chose The Tumbling Sky book as we thought it would be interesting to study the Psalms together and because it had short daily readings which we thought were manageable for us to look at each day.  

I have found it encouraging to do this every day in the run up to both Christmas and Easter, as I prepare my heart and mind for these extremely special events in our church calendar.  As we share what we have taken from the passage it is encouraging to know what others are learning and how they are growing through the Word they have read.

As we have read the book together we have all been struck by how the Psalmists cry out to God from the depths of despair.  We have been reminded that we do not need to be “sorted” to come before our Lord, He hears our prayers when we cry out to Him in pain and sorrow.  We have also been encouraged in how we walk alongside those who are struggling, that we spend time listening to them and praying for them rather than trying to “fix” them or telling them they need “more faith” or to just “cheer up.”  It is helpful to remember that when we are struggling or suffering we are no less a Christian, these words of turmoil are in the Bible, God knows that we will find life hard and he’s given us words to use to cry out to Him. But He has also given us hope that our suffering will end.

The book has reminded us of how Jesus is with us in our suffering, He is the suffering servant who knows what it is like to be physically cut off from God through his death on the cross.  We are not forsaken by God, although sometimes we may feel like we have been. We have access to the Father through His Son because of the wonder of Easter, Christ’s death and His resurrection.