We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
As a general rule the psalms take more time to access than other sections of scripture, like the pastoral epistles. Take the excerpt above as an example. Each sentence holds a sermon’s worth of theology.
The psalmist opens by saying, “We have thought on your steadfast love.” When was the last time we thought on God’s unrelenting love in community? Or when have we confessed our sins to one another and celebrated God’s grace together — so that in the revelation of our brokenness and God’s faithfulness we discover a vivid and glorious image of God’s love?
It is rare in modern Christianity to hear the psalms used in corporate prayer, worship, or teaching. This could be due in part to modern individualism’s befuddlement with public lament, corporate rejoicing, and communal singing. It may also be due to changes in the written word, as C. Richard Wells and Ray Van Neste explore in their book Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming The Psalms for Christian Worship.
“There are special reasons for neglect of the psalms,” they explain. “The language of poetry doesn’t easily connect in a sound-byte culture. The psalms call for time, not tweets — time to read, ponder, pray, digest. It’s easy to be too busy for the psalms.”
Perhaps the real reason doesn’t have as much to do with fads in technology as it does with the realities of sin in our hearts. The primary reason the psalms have fallen out of preaching, prayer, and singing, Wells and Van Neste conclude, is that, “We are fascinated with ourselves; the psalms are fascinated with God.”
The answer to this problem isn’t self-loathing — which is another form of self-obsession — but to use the psalms as a guidebook for our prayers, songs, and understanding of God. When we think on God’s steadfast love together we rediscover our lives in light of the glorious grace of our Savior.
Father, you are beautiful. Shine your light on our lives, that we might see you more clearly. Kindle our hearts, that we may experience you more deeply. Renew us you through your word. Guide and encourage us through your church.
Finding Our Way
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org