The following article is a guest post from Emily Moore, co-founder of Psalter Project, a community resource for singing the psalms with fresh arrangements of faithful translations. Emily and her brother, Pastor Derek Moore, desire to see the broader church know and sing the psalms. Their latest album The Good Life is now available – just click the link.
Who doesn’t want to be happy? “The pursuit of happiness” is such a basic aspect of human nature that it is considered an inalienable right in the U.S. Constitution. So when we think of “the good life,” what typically comes to mind are some key ingredients to a pleasure-filled life: health, wealth, and popularity.
However, the psalms give us a radically different picture of what a truly good life looks like. It’s not just a different means to an end; the goal itself is redefined. Contrary to our natural instinct, the good life is not essentially found in happiness. God is the fountain of life (Ps 36:9) and the source of pleasure that will last forever (Ps 16:11). Our good depends on God’s nearness (Ps 73:28).
Psalm 103 puts it this way: God is the one “who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” The question for those seeking the good life is not what, but who – and the answer is always God alone.
God is the one who shepherds us, even in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23). His word nourishes us (Ps 1:3), sustains us (Ps 34:10), and revives us (Ps 19:7). And when the day is done and the game is up, God is the one who will lead us to glory (Ps 73:26) and give us our inheritance (Ps 37:9).
However, pursuing God above our own immediate happiness goes against both instinct and culture. How can we resist this constant, ingrained temptation? How can we remember to choose the good life above the temporary illusion? Only by intentionally, continually immersing ourselves in the promises of God’s Word.
That’s why I sing the psalms. I am desperate for God’s truth to be molded into my mind, heart, and soul. My stubborn willfulness leads me to drink from the world’s broken cisterns when I’m feeling tired, sick, and disheartened. The Word of Christ dwelling in me (Col 3:16) leads me to contentment. Slavery to selfish desires begets sin and death. Freedom to obey Christ brings joy even in the midst of sorrow.
God gave us the psalms so that we would have this freedom. He hasn’t left us wondering how to fight the good fight and live the good life; He has given us the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6). He has given us music as a practical aid to hide His Word in our hearts. Singing the psalms is a deliberate choice to pursue the good life in the way God has ordained it.
So what are you waiting for? “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps 34:8)
Click The Good Life to purchase the Psalter Project’s latest album. Listen below to “Bless the Lord” from Psalm 103 for a sample of their music.