“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
Read: Psalm 1, 70, and 150
Devotion: Why did I recommend reading Psalm 1, 70, and 150? The answer is simply that they are three short psalms of different genres. Psalm 1 kicks off the book of Psalms with a song of wisdom of how the one who desires to truly worship God must be rooted in his Word, while the wicked person who disregards his law will not stand in the judgment. Psalm 70 is a personal lament–a sad song–of prayer to God for deliverance from the psalmist’s present situation. Finally, Psalm 150 ends the book with a simple yet glorious song of praise, calling everything and everyone to join in that praise to the Creator. So then, why have you read three very different psalms for this devotional? To give you a small taste of what the book of Psalms provides the reader.
I love the Psalms. The book of Psalms is my go-to book of the Bible. If I’m in-between a series that I am teaching the Youth at our church, or if I’m asked to teach for another ministry and I’m not assigned a topic, or whenever I randomly pick up the Bible during the day to just read a short passage, my first instinct is always to go to the Psalms. This isn’t my impulse because it’s my favorite book (that would be Job) or because it’s somehow superior to the other books. I drift toward the Psalms simply because of the nature of the book itself. It’s unique among the books of the Bible. It’s a songbook meant for corporate and individual worship. Because of this, it has many unique features that other books of the Bible don’t—which makes it that perfect go-to book.
For space, I’ll just provide three features that build off of one another and which are related to its authorship. First, the book of Psalms is written by many different inspired authors. That’s unique among the books of the Bible. While the majority of the songs and prayers were written by David, there are some written by Asaph, the sons of Korah, Solomon, Moses, and many that are anonymous.
Second, the vast majority of these songs and prayers were originally spoken and written in response to specific situations that the authors personally dealt with. To name just a few: there are songs concerning the author’s fear over the future (Ps 16), songs of repentance (Ps 51, 73), songs of deep lament during a time when it seems like all of their friends have turned against them and that their entire life has been one dark period after another (Ps 88). There are songs of remembering God’s works during times of rest (Ps 92), and of reflecting on God’s faithfulness to you at the end of your life (Ps 18). On top of all that, it contains the greatest love song ever written—not for a spouse, but for God’s Word (Ps 119).
Third, despite the diversity in authors spanning centuries of Israel’s history and the diversity of their circumstances, there is perfect consistency between them. Each one of these authors was moved by the Holy Spirit to record their personal songs and prayers, which were preserved for God’s people through his meticulous providence. For example, in Psalm 16:2 David writes in his time of distress and worry about his own mortality: “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.'” Asaph says nearly the same thing when he repents of his sin of envy in Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” Or Moses asking God to impress upon Israel their own mortality so that they would remember that this life is but a breath and that their hope is not in this world but in God alone (Ps 90:12-14). Hundreds of years later, David would pray the the same thing: “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am” (Ps 39:4).
From these three features of the Psalter, you can see that every single psalm inundates the reader with the truth that God’s word is relevant for every believer in every age, which makes it that perfect go-to book. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, know that David (or one of the other authors) probably went through a similar experience and was moved by the Spirit to write a song about it. This means that you’re not alone! Whenever you’re in doubt that God’s Word is relevant for your particular situation, go to the Psalms. Whenever you need a good passage for an upcoming Bible study you’re teaching (or a devotion that you need to write) go to the Psalms. Whenever you’re sad, happy, concerned, troubled, tired—whatever—and you’re wondering if there is a passage in the Bible that addresses what you’re feeling, go to the Psalms. Be in God’s holy, inspired, timeless Word and let it encourage you and give you wisdom for wherever you find yourself in life. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” (Ps 119:9-10)
Ponder and Pray Together: Share with one another your favorite Psalm if you have one. Why is it your favorite? Finish by praying Psalm 118, which is a song of God’s steadfast enduring love.