Monday, October 7, 2019

The Psalm-Filled Life

"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness"(Psalm 29:2).

The book of Psalms is part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, and is one of the few sections of Scripture that has been published separately from the rest of the Bible. This is because the Psalms consist of prayers and hymns, and thus have been used in the worship and devotion of the church since her beginning. The very first book ever published in America was the Bay Psalm Book, a complete collection of the psalter in verse for congregational singing.

There are a few Christian churches today that will sing nothing but the Psalms, continuing the tradition of the Calvinistic churches of the Reformation. Historically, the Psalms have been central in worship, and those churches that sang other hymns always sang mostly psalms. Until recently the book of Psalms has permeated and structured the worship of the church. Many hymns that are not full-fledged versified psalms are still based on psalms, as “A Mighty Fortress” is based on Psalm 46.

The spiritual vitality of the church is proportional to the use of psalms in worship and in the lives of believers. When the church was strong, actively influencing society, it was characteristically filled with psalms. When psalms are absent from worship, as they have recently been, the church becomes weak and ineffectual, as it is today.

One of the great weaknesses of the Christian community today is a weakness in prayer. We aren’t very familiar with the vocabulary of prayer. We stammer and stutter in prayer, or fill our prayers with strange phrases like “Lord, we just want to … and we just … and we’re just here to say.…” Would you talk to another human being like that? How can we learn ways to pray that match the dignity of the Person we are addressing? The answer lies in the Psalms. Because many of the psalms are divinely-inspired prayers, they can teach us to pray.

In recent years there has been a movement towards spontaneity in worship, as a reaction against dead formalism. With this movement has often come a dangerous cheapening of worship and a casual attitude toward God. The use of the Psalms will restore to us a vibrancy of worship and a proper sense of His dignity and majesty.

It is amazing that God has given us this great treasury of prayer and praise, yet we don’t use it. Appeal to your minister and music director to revive the heritage of psalmody in congregational music and worship.