I’ve been doing some writing recently on the Psalms, and there are some profound lessons that just keep growing on me. I can’t help thinking that there’s something quite special about this book of the Bible, but it’s hard to put my finger on it. It may be the musical style of the psalms; but it’s hard to figure how that would quite come through, because they had a different musical scale, their style of poetry was different from ours. The poetry does survive, though, because Hebrew poetry is a poetry of ideas, of thoughts; not so much words and rhymes. Nevertheless, the power of music still hovers over this book.
I know years ago, when I was having some hard times, I took the Bible with me to my place of prayer one day, I opened it up to the first psalm, I laid it out there in front of me, and I began to talk to God about the psalm. It was a change in my approach to prayer. I’m no longer asking God,
Give me this, or
Give me that, or
Heal that person’s sickness, and all that type of thing. It’s just a talk, a conversation with him. What does this psalm mean and what should it to me? When I finished it, I made a mark there at the end of psalm number one, and the next time I prayed I started where I had left off. I was surprised sometime back, when I was looking at that old Bible, and I saw how many times I had gone through the entire book that way. So it was really a very constant study of mine—part of my daily devotionals—throughout that period of my life.
But that’s still not as surprising as the way the Psalms unfold over time. I think the reason for that is that you and I change with the years of our lives. We face different challenges, we learn many lessons, and then we return back to this marvelous work—the Psalms—and find something entirely new. It isn’t that we didn’t see it before. It’s not that, if we read it aloud, we wouldn’t have read it before. It’s just that now it says something to us that it didn’t say before. Take the first Psalm as a case in point…