At the very heart of worship is the sense “to bring glory”. While broad, this encompasses the crux of the issue. When we worship, we bring glory. What each must be mindful of is what the object of that worship is going to be. Today is no different from what it has been for centuries. There are many objects of human worship, of which only ONE is worthy.
But, in reality, many of those we go to church with have multiple objects of worship and we desperately try to manage this in our lives. In an effort to not offend and coexist, as the sticker says, we don’t fully commit and offend the ONE who is worthy.
We do this.
So did Israel.
The intention of the Psalms, though, is to provide songs of worship that bring glory to God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s promise in Jesus. While most are not using a hymn book any longer, I grew up with one in my hands. While Mom would be printing the bulletin on the mimeograph machine ( I have provided a link for those who are too young to know), I would sit and read through it; I would sing through it. The ancient follower of God would sing through these songs.
What we call the Psalms, they call the “song book”, or psalter. While written as poetry, most of them would set to music and sung as a part of worship. As you read through them, you discover the love of God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s promise. The focus of worship was God and His character and activity rather than OUR activity to and about God.
Did you catch the difference?
Here is a BRIEF list of the types of Psalms and what they reveal about God.
- Hymns – songs of praise and thanksgiving to God for who He is and what He has done (Psalm 8, 136, 150)
- Penitential – Confess sorrow for sin, appeal to God for grace and forgiveness (Psalm 38, 51)
- Wisdom – General observations on life, especially God and our relationship to Him (Psalm 1, 14, 73)
- Royal – Focus on the king as son of David and as God’s special instrument to rule people (Psalm 2, 45, 110)
- Messianic – Describe some aspect of the Messiah’s person or ministry (Psalm 16, 22, 45, 110)
- Imprecatory – Call for God’s judgment against enemies ( Psalm 35, 69, 137)
- Lament – statement of lament, trust in God, and praise to God (Psalm 3, 4, and 6)
(Based in part on the Gospel Project Summer 2016 Session 13 lesson)
The first value of reading the Psalms on a regular basis is that we learn to delight in God’s Word. Do you delight in them? I know we read scripture. I know you probably have a plan chosen to read scripture. But is it your delight? Is it that cheat day on your diet delight? Is it like that favorite, drink or snuggly pillow or date night with your love delight? This is our issue. God’s word is great to study and to live by, but is it our delight?
A second value of reading the Psalms is that it reminds us of God’s character with a call to celebrate. I worship God because He alone is worthy, but also because I see who God is and what God has done and I am drawn to bring glory to His name; I worship. When we focus on our feelings and activities with lose sight of God because we are focusing on ourselves. Reading these brings to light the nature of God’s goodness and His love for us and how that is displayed for the world to see and know. When I begin to fathom the grandeur of God compared to me I ask like the Psalmist, “What is man that you would think about me?” When I begin to relay the works of HIS hands and the blessings provided to me by God, I am brought low. I worship. Do you?
A third value of reading the Psalms is that we are taught how to respond to God. In this list above, we notice praise, thanksgiving, confession, and lament. These are our responses, in worship, to the knowledge of God’s goodness and holiness juxtaposed to our sin and filth. Reading, even singing, these words brings discipline to our lives. Worship is not just hype and lights and excitement. Worship, as seen in these songs of old, involves meeting a holy God and rendering glory to HIM. Recognizing our sin and blurting our confession, weeping over it.
A final value of reading through the Psalms is that we are presented with the promise of God in Christ. God’s promise is the redemption of humanity to Himself. Ultimately, God was doing this through Jesus. The promise of the Messiah is seen on several occasions in the Psalms and calls us to faith and trust in a promise not yet seen.
As noted in a video linked above, Billy Graham is said to have read 5 Psalms and 1 chapter in Proverbs each day. 12 times a year he read through those books. Is it any wonder God used him mightily for the Kingdom? Make the psalms a regular part of devotional life because you want your heart and character to be aligned with the Psalmist. Let your passion overflow to the group over which you have influence.