I like the emotional immediacy of the Psalms.
It’s great to dive into Paul’s theology outlined in the New Testament and Paul was nothing if not practical. So with Paul you get theology and then in the same epistle later on you get practical hints and tips, instructions on how to apply what he’s writing about.
It’s not like the Psalms are impractical or lacking in theology – far from it – however I have a deep appreciation for words, language, and the use of them in poetry and psalms; using language to convey an emotional state of mind as it pertains to the soul’s relationship to God.
I can read a psalm and feel on a gut-level what the psalmist is writing about. For all their derision by the mainstream media in the United States, the people of Russia have a national gut with a taste for poetry (or so I’ve read) and if I use my imagination, it could easily be true that they are into the psalms.
I wondered this week about a psalm of David, Psalm 103:
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (Verse 1, NIV)
It almost sounds – from a certain point of view – that David had to talk his soul into catching up with the imperative to praise God. Almost like praise is not always the most natural thing.
I came across an article from www.desiringgod.org by some guy light years ahead of me in a study of the Scriptures who takes the reader through David’s thinking in this psalm:
The author, Professor Griffith, tells us something that we know all too well: “Sin, pain, or sorrow can blind us to God’s present working and, occasionally, even the miraculous ways he’s worked in our lives in the past.”
In seasons of low affection then, when the soul lags behind the imperative to praise God, it behoves the Christian to remember in the same pattern that David does.
Firstly, we should remember redemptive history, all that God has done in the past to redeem everyone – the cross, the empty tomb – and our share in that.
And then, we can remember time-worn, yet timeless, verses that we keep coming back to. As useful as some leather shoes that look for all the world like they’ve walked a thousand miles, but they endure and fit our feet like a glove, and they’re still perfectly fine for walking another thousand miles in.
Or like a classic hymn that never goes out of soul-style. In thinking about this Psalm, and David’s prompt to his soul, I circled back to an oldie but goodie…we have so many reasons to praise: