An Invitation to the Psalms
Try to imagine the Bible without the Psalms. What a different book it would be! What a different place the church would be. And what a different person I would be.
It’s not as though the rest of the Bible does not teach truth and awaken emotions. I learn things and feel things everywhere I read in the Bible. But it’s not the same. The Psalms do not just awaken the affections of the heart; they put the expression of those affections in the foreground. They feature the emotional experience of the psalmist intentionally against the backdrop of divine truth.
Emotion on Display
They do not just invite the emotion of the heart in response to revealed truth. They put the emotion on display. They are not just commanding; they are contagious. We are not just listening to profound ideas and expressed affections. We are living among them in their overflow. We are walking in the counsel of God-besotted wisdom, and standing in the way of amazed holiness, and sitting in the seat of jubilant admiration.
We touch pillows wet with tears. We hear and feel the unabashed cries of affliction and shame and regret and grief and anger and discouragement and turmoil. But what makes all this stunningly different from the sorrows of the world is that all of it — absolutely all of it — is experienced in relation to the totally sovereign God.
God at the Bottom of It All
None of these emotions rises from a heart that has rejected the all-governing God.
- “Your waves have gone over me” (Psalm 42:7).
- “You have made my days a few handbreadths” (Psalm 39:5).
- “You have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies”(Psalm 44:9).
- “You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations” (Psalm 44:11).
- “You have made your people see hard things” (Psalm 60:3).
- And in it all, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” (Psalm 139:1).
God is behind everything. This is the great difference between the Psalms of Scripture and the laments, complaints, and sorrows of the world. For the psalmists, God is a rock-solid, unshakeable, undeniable, omnipotent Reality.