Earlier this week I gave a public lecture on the subject of living with cancer. One of the observations I made was that God has used my experience with leukemia to help me appreciate His word more fully. In God’s providence, I had just started working through the book of Psalms in my regular Bible reading when I was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer about two years ago. The first book of the Psalter contains many psalms of lament in which the psalmist is crying out to God for help, often in a state of anguish. I had read those psalms many times before and, frankly, did not find them particularly meaningful.
Note: This article was originally posted over three years ago here at Gentle Reformation. It is re-posted to compliment several of our recent articles on the place of the Psalms in human life.
Smartphones order our lives helpfully, or at least they can. In one tiny device, we carry a phone, a camera, an alarm clock, a web browser, an atlas, a notebook, a mailbox, a calendar, a library, an audio and video player, and a million apps that do everything from forecasting the weather to finding a spouse. Yet, their small screens and tiny keyboards limit their usefulness. These devices certainly fall short of desktop capacity. On the other hand, their portability makes them far more powerful for the user than a desktop most of the time.
These tools enrich life and make it more efficient. Like every great human idea, they simply copy God’s pattern. God gives us everything we need for life and godliness in his book. But, it’s hard to memorize the whole thing, and it’s not always portable. It’s the desktop. So, the Lord placed the smartphone of the soul right in the center of Scripture. It’s 150 chapters long, and touches every human need. It does not […]
A couple of weeks ago our congregation featured as part of a programme made for the BBC tracing the development of Christian hymns from its roots in psalm singing to the present proliferation of modern praise songs. (If you live in the UK you can still watch the programme on the BBC iPlayer here). It was a great opportunity to showcase (albeit briefly) the psalms in congregational worship. Still flying the flag for Psalmody, and following hot on the heels of Jared Olivetti’s post a few days back about the suitability of the psalms for worship, I thought I’d say a few things about the pedigree of Psalm singers…
Usually if people know anything about the Reformed Presbyterian Church they know that our book of praise is the Psalter. But it’s also very likely that they don’t know why Reformed Presbyterians choose to sing only Psalms. No doubt it seems very peculiar to many nowadays. In an age when we have access to countless thousands of worship songs, why would we choose to limit ourselves to these 150 extremely ancient songs?
Is it because we want to live in the past? Are we like those American civil war buffs who dress up […]
Have you ever heard of the The Battle of the Psalter? Perhaps our generation has been so busy waging the so-called “worship wars” that we have often forgotten our history. Take a moment to enjoy the story of Columba and The Battle of the Psalter:
Columba (c. 521-597 A.D.), known as the “apostle of Scotland,” was born of royalty in Ireland in the generations following Patrick (c. 390-461 A.D.). Most of what is known of Columba has been passed down in Adamnan’s Life of Saint Columba and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. These histories are full of legend – a mix of truth and error. Some modern historians question whether Columba’s missionary significance has been overrated simply because he had biographers while many of his contemporaries did not. In spite of our uncertainty of the truth of all the details, the story of Columba and the Battle of the Psalter is worth retelling.
He was raised in Ireland until he went to Scotland in 563. Legend has it that when Columba was a child, Cruithnechan, the man who had baptized him, was called on to recite Psalm 101 at a public festival. The boy Columba barely knew his alphabet, but when the old man’s voice faltered, […]
In the first post in this three part series, we looked at how the Psalms, authored by our Triune God, contain many references and allusions to the Trinity. In the Psalms, often we are reading and singing of the Father, Son, and Spirit without perhaps the awareness we should have.
With the second installment, we saw how these songs were prepared especially for Jesus Christ by the Father to guide and comfort him in his atoning ministry as our Mediator. Then, as we live in union with Christ, the Psalms lead us, as David Murray says in his work Jesus on Every Page, to sing of, in, and with Jesus.
In this final segment, we’ll consider seven of the ways the seven-fold Spirit of God is found in the Psalter.
The Spirit’s authorship is apparent.
We know that all of Scripture is “inspired by God” (II Timothy 3:16) or, as is closer to the original meaning, “God-breathed.” The Bible contains the breathed-out words of God through his Spirit. In all of Scripture men were moved by the Holy Spirit to give us the very thoughts of God (II Peter 1:20-21).
As one of the thirty-nine Old Testament books, clearly the Psalms […]
Are you having trouble in your prayer life? Do you feel as though your heart is hardened soil as you pray? Sing the psalms! Wilhelmus a’Brakel gave this encouragement to his readers over 300 years ago when he wrote:
Singing will move a heart which frequently remains unmoved during prayer. It can be that while singing the tears will drip upon the book. Have you not frequently experienced this? Have not you been stirred up by hearing the singing of others? Others will therefore also be stirred up by your singing.
The Papists in France knew this, and therefore they strictly forbade the singing of psalms and meted out cruel punishment for this—even prior to massacring the church.
Therefore, no longer be silent, but lift up your voices—in spite of the devil and all the enemies of God—to the honor and glory of your God, as this has done you too much good already (and still does) than that you would refrain from thanking the Lord with songs of praise. You must furthermore do so in order that you might stir up others to serve the Lord with gladness. It will then become manifest to all […]