1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
give heed to my sighing.
2 Listen to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil will not sojourn with you.
5 The boastful will not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in awe of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouths;
their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.
This past Saturday I learned a great deal about the Book of Psalms from a video-taped lecture by Rev. Dr. Jenni Williams, Tutor in Old Testament at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford.
For today's devotional I want to pass along some of the notes from this lecture, to inspire and inform us about reading and praying the Psalms as part of our daily devotional time with the Lord.
What are the Psalms? They are human voices lifted to God. How is this different from most of the Bible? The Psalms are "150 Things You Can Say to God" (John Goldingay, Fuller Seminary). Why did they sing? To honor God (by singing to him, e.g., Psalm 9:1; by singing about him, e.g., Psalm 27:1). To cry out to God (e.g., Psalm 5:2). To remember his deeds (e.g., Psalm 136). Remembering helps us to trust. To teach (Psalm 24:3-4).
Patterns or Types of Psalms: Hymns, Laments (Individual and Communal), Thanksgiving, Royal, Wisdom, and Torah. When were the songs sung? Good times (Psalm 150). Bad times (Psalm 13). Times when people got it wrong (Psalm 51:1-3). Formal Occasions (Psalm 45). Who sang? Professionals (Psalm 76). Kings. People in ordinary situations (Psalm 37:1-3). People in extraordinary situations (Psalm 59).
How did they sing? Known types (mikham, psalm, maskil). Musical notation (Selah). Known melodies (Psalm 69, "According to the Lilies").
Why are they in the Bible? "The Bible assumes that we do not know instinctively how to talk with God, but rather we need some help to know how to do so" (John Goldingay).
These notes tell us that in whatever situation we find ourselves, we can sing/pray to God. What's so affirming about the presence of the Psalms in the Bible is that true, honest feelings are the very ingredients of our worship of God. Nothing is hidden. Nothing should be taken as embarrassing. But everything in light of God and guided by good theology can lift up our minds, souls, and spirits to the One who can help us in times of trouble and in times of riches and peace.
May the Lord bless you today through the Psalms!