Psalms Introduction Part 1

Psalms Introduction Part 1

The book of Psalms is one of the most beloved books of the bible.  This is one book you do not need to give people directions to locate in the bible.  Everyone knows how to get there by simply opening their bibles, they naturally open up to the book of Psalms being at the center of the bible.  And in similar response, we naturally open up in the book of Psalms, pouring out our hearts to God and finding that His word is indeed a refuge for us. In this book we find much comfort and hope in our time of need. It calms our heart. It centers our thoughts. It realigns our wills. It lifts our spirit. It captivates our imagination. The book of Psalms speaks to every part of our being, mind, spirit, heart, imagination and will.   Deep truly calls out to deep in the book of Psalms. The depths of God call out to us in our time of need from the book of Psalms, exhorting us to Seek his face! And the  depths of our hearts cry back to Him for comfort and understanding stating “Your face I will seek!”

Why do we love the book of Psalms so much. There are many reasons but I will list three.

1. The Psalms Make Our Heart Sing

The Psalms were written with the intention of making our heart sing. They are a hymnbook for all time as Herd referred to them. They are most appropriately called a hymnbook because all of the Psalms are about Him, Jesus Christ who stands in their midst.

“The Psalms are full of Christ. There is a more complete picture of Him in the Psalms than in the Gospels. The Gospels tell us that He went to the mountain to pray, but the Psalms give us his prayer. The Gospels tell us that He was crucified, but the Psalms tell us what went on in his own heart during the crucifixion. The Gospels tell us He went to heaven, but the Psalms begin where the Gospels leave off and show us Christ seated in heaven.” – J. Vernon McGee

As it’s Greek name, Psalmos, suggests this entire book was intended to be accompanied by instrumental music. It’s name means “Book of praises” in Hebrew and “Scripture set to music” in Greek.  This is a book intended to lift up our hearts and make them sing. Where ever our hearts are at, whatever emotions are weighing us down, whatever darkness we are currently enduring, the Psalms know how to find us, shed’s God’s light upon us and lifts our hearts to sing once again. The Psalms enable us to sing in the dark. The Psalms enable us to sing knowing that the morning is just over the horizon, our help comes from just over the hills, though we may not be able to see God in our circumstances, we yet trust in Him, hope in him and wait upon him in all our trials. The Psalms lift our hearts eyes up to see God when our physical eyes are blind. Though the world cannot see Him, we can yet see Him.

2. The Psalms are a Sanctuary

In the Psalms, we find a refuge, a hiding place, a consecrated place where we always seem to find God and where our heart is calmed from its fears.

“The Psalms are a special place of God’s presence where we encounter him in an intimate way. When we enter into the Psalms we enter into the sanctuary, the place where God meets his people in a special way. We always depend on Him being found there. His presence is rich in the Psalms.” – Temper Longman, III

“In the Psalms we looked into the heart of all the saints, and we seem to graze into fair pleasure gardens – into heaven itself, refreshing, gladdening flowers of holy and happy thoughts about God and all His benefits.” – Martin Luther

There is something special about being in the Psalms. It  is akin to being in God’s Garden and in heavenly sanctuary.  We are surrounded by beauty of prose. We are surrounded by and overcome with the awe and presence of God Himself in the midst of the Psalms as His righteous nature and His awesome deeds are vividly portrayed over and over again.  We are surrounded by peace and comfort from words that remind us to wait upon the Lord and to trust him at all times. We are surrounded by love as reminders of God’s great and unending love are continually poured out before us, one after another, until our cup is overfilled.  We are surrounded by truth as our hearts are not pacified by wishful thinking but by Truth itself that suddenly takes up arms around us, surrounds us like a shield and proceeds to defend and protect our mind and our heart against every lie and false thought that would steal our peace and limit our joy in God’s presence.

3. The Psalms are a Mirror to our Soul.

In the Psalms, we often find our own emotions expressed. In the book of Psalms there is not an emotion that is not expressed.

“I have been want to call this book not inappropriately, an anatomy of all parts of the soul; for there is not an emotion of which anyone be conscious that is not there represented as in a mirror.” – John Calvin

“Someone has said that there are 126 psychological experiences – I don’t know how they arrived at that number but I do know that all of them are recorded in the Book of Psalms. It is the only book which contains every experience of a human being. The Psalms run the psychological gamut. Every thought, every impulse, every emotion that sweeps over the soul is recorded in this book. That is the reason, I suppose, that it always speaks to our hearts & finds a responsive chord wherever we turn.” – J. Vernon McGee

“The Psalms appeal to the whole person, they demand a total response. The Psalms inform our intellect, around our emotions, direct our wills and stimulate our imaginations.” – Temper Longman, III

Many times we really don’t know what we are thinking or feeling before God enables us to understand our own thoughts and motives, the secrets of our own hearts.  (Psa. 44:21) We don’t know why we  did something or fear something until His word gives us understanding. This is what makes the Lord such a great counselor. He knows us better then we know ourselves. God reveals not only Himself to us, but also reveals us to ourselves through his word.

We all long for understanding. We all long for someone to see and know what our heart is experiencing in it’s grief, fear and pain. Despite our best attempts to often share our thoughts and emotions, we are for the most part unknown even by ourselves. We are bundle of emotions. We are an accumulation of thoughts and memories, we are a wad of fears on the inside and contradictions. On top of it all, we are changing constantly. Who we are today, is not who we were yesterday or who we aspire to be tomorrow. We are constantly growing, putting off the old and putting on the new when we belong to Christ.  How is it that anyone can know and understand us, much less ourselves? Yet, God knows us and reveals us to ourselves.  The Psalms are a mirror to our souls, expressing our own emotions in every circumstance we can imagine.

If you listen to the radio today you will hear songs today pouring out their hearts. Broken relationships, betrayal, overcoming failure, songs of hope and songs of depression.  This is where many people turn to for comfort and understanding today when they need their hearts lifted up. They turn on the radio for that understanding friend who reassures us that we are at a place where we have all been. Then they simply relax with its soothing sound and let the lyrics express their rage, their grief, their pain in a way they cannot express themselves. We all share the same sufferings, betrayal, failures, broken relationships, lost loves, etc.  The pain is often expressed, mutual understanding is given, mutual frustration is shown over the injustice identified, but that is all the songs of today can offer, understanding.   No remedy, no sure hope, only wishful thinking, this is just the way it is and we just have to deal with it

Psalms of God, offer not only a deeper understanding, but also a remedy for our pain and counsel. The psalms of God cause us to take our eyes off ourselves and lift them up to Heaven, to God. They bring the big picture in view, they cause us to remember the context of the fallen world, they stir us to remember God’s great deeds in the past and his great character which never changes.   The songs of today and cannot offer what the Psalms of God offer us in our pain and that is a remedy and counsel.

God alone is able to soothe and restore our souls with  lasting permanence.  The world can offer us temporary fixes, temporary distractions from what is ailing us, but God seeks to heal our hearts permanently, he seeks to restore our hearts fully, he seeks to lead us in ways that would prevent us having to endure many of our self inflicted wounds.

I pray that this study through the Psalms would open your eyes to see just how good our God is to us and how good his ways are, even though they may not appear good to our limited vision and understanding. I pray they would inspire you and leave you singing a different tune, confidently praising God with new songs of confidence, remembrance and thanksgiving of his wonderful works in your life.