Psalms: The Heart of God

As we approach the summer, I want to invite you into what my wife, Liz, suggested to me, a “summer in the Psalms.” Why not consider reading through the Psalms this summer? There are 150 of them, and if you set up a schedule to read just two Psalms a day, you would read all of them this summer.  I’m taking the plunge for a few good reasons.

My Reasons for Reading through Psalms this Summer

First, and the most important, Psalms are the sanctuary of God’s heart. The Psalms are in the middle, the heart of your Bible, because the Psalms are the center and heart of God’s heart.  You want to know God’s heart? Read, study, and meditate in the Psalms.  You want to know God’s heart for an issue, read the Psalms.  We discover the essence of God’s heart through the Psalms. 

The Psalms not only reveal God’s heart, but they also reveal our heart.  Martin Luther, the great Bible Reformer, said, “In the Psalms we looked into the heart of all the saints, and we seem to gaze into fair pleasure gardens—into heaven itself—where blooms in sweet, refreshing, gladdening flowers of holy and happy thoughts about God and all His benefits.” 

John Calvin said of the Psalms, “I have been wont to call this book not inappropriately, an anatomy of all parts of the soul.”

Second, Psalms are the hymnbook and prayer book of God.  David, the “man after God’s heart,” has written God’s heart to us through the poetry, songs, and prayers found in the Psalms.  The beauty of God’s heart in songs and prayers is the central point. Who better to lead us in worship and prayer than David.

Indeed, David saw that his greatest triumph and contribution to God and the nation of Israel was not being a warrior or king, but as the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” (2 Samuel 23:1) David wrote 79 Psalms.

The Psalms capture our imagination like music does. The Psalms were sung in the Temple on Mt. Zion. The Psalms were sung as the pilgrims ascended the hill to Zion. The Psalms were sung in every Jewish home. The Psalms are considered by theologians and musicians to be the most sacred poetry in all the world.

Third, Psalms express vulnerability about real life issues. In a time in our church history where stuffy religion and pretend Christianity is at an all-time high, arguably there is no other book of the Bible that is most real about the struggles of life. David and the other psalmists are very vulnerable about the life battles they are involved with; and they express anger, frustration, loneliness, as well as joy, praise, and thankfulness, like no other book in the Bible.

Psalms capture real life experiences more than any other book in the Bible because they speak of circumstances and situations that are not unlike what we have experienced in our own lives. In one Psalm, David is full of joy and rapture over God’s goodness and love, and in the next, he is angry and mournful.  It is interesting that in almost every Psalm, it may start with anger, frustration, and fear; however, the conclusion is always praise and worship.

Finally, Psalms are about the purpose of being human. The Psalms are about what it means to be a human being on the earth. If you want to understand with your heart your purpose on this earth, read, sing, and meditate in the Psalms.

N.T. Wright, in his masterful book, The Case for the Psalms, writes: “The Psalms, all of them…mean what they mean within the larger worldview that all of Scripture articulates.  It goes something like this:  God created humans in the beginning to be His vice rulers over the world.  That is part, at least, of what it means that humans were made in God’s image.  The image is like an angled mirror, reflecting God’s wise and caring love into the world, bringing order and fruitfulness to the garden where humans are placed.”

The Psalms have a triple theme concerning the purpose of being human: first to love God with all your heart; second, to love and appreciate God’s beautiful creation; and third, to love and lead people out of their slavery. In other words, the Psalms are about taking loving, worshipful dominion over the earth.  It is a real-life book for real-life people who want to understand their God-given mandate to rule and reign and bring the Kingdom of God from heaven to earth.

 

Join me this summer in the Psalms,

Pastor Steve