I’ve recently rediscovered the beauty of the Psalms. If you are not in the habit of reading the Psalms or have never read them, then I highly recommend them to you. For those of you unfamiliar with the Psalms, it is a collection of poems written by various authors (as they were moved by the Holy Spirit) and composed over hundreds of years. It’s themes are many and include the creation of the world and humanity; the Exodus; God’s sovereignty, might, and goodness; pleas for help amidst sin and suffering; thanksgiving and praise; and the perfection and delight of God’s laws. But among the many categories, at the center of the entire book is a single, pronounced theme – worship. Worship of God permeates the book (and the entire canon of Scripture, I should add). The exaltation of God – attributing to him the glory and honor and fame due his name – is the thread that binds each poem into a cohesive whole.
I used to think that poetry was merely carefully constructed verses, rhymes, rhythms. But over the years, the Psalms have taught me that good poetry and song is more than crafting words and phrases in the right order. Good poetry does at least three things.
Captures and inspires the imagination – Good poetry engages your mind and stimulates fresh, creative thinking.
Stirs the affections – Good poetry grips your emotions and causes your senses to come alive.
Communicates truth in compelling and memorable ways – Good poetry resonates with your life experiences (the highs and lows) and deals with questions about life, death, and eternity.
If good poetry can be crafted by men and women, how much greater is the poetry gifted to us by God himself? I encourage you to read, meditate, even memorize the Psalms. Learn to appreciate its structures, phrasings, and truths. And especially let it guide you into greater worship of its divine Author. I’ll leave you with a great starting point.
Psalm 111 (ESV)
Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!