Wednesday, October 30, 2013

songs of life

on monday i finished leading a seven week study on the book of psalms called "songs of life."  in this study we looked at different types or genres of psalms, including thanksgiving psalms, liturgical psalms, lament psalms, royal psalms, and others.  all together, we read some 60 psalms, studying a few them closely, and only reading or taking a brief look at others.  we had some 30 people participate over the course of the 7 weeks, and while i hope that everyone learned some things, my most pronounced desire is that some of the folks who looked at these psalms in the last two months have been inspired by the poetry therein.  it is my prayer that as they read these ancient words, they discovered that the words are pointing to something beyond the words themselves, and even beyond whatever theological meaning we can contrive.  these profound poems and songs sing of something deeper and truer and higher and more solid and more alive.  they speak of the true grit of human life; of the intense stress and pressure that seems to press in on every side at times; and of the wild and reckless hope that there is a God who not only can, but will (!) deliver us from those enemies.  these were the songs david sang.  they are the song Jesus sang.  and they are the songs that countless Christ-followers have sung through the centuries. 

today we may feel that we don't need the psalms.  we have so much modern praise and worship music that the market is flooded with new songs and new bands and new slick marketing techniques to try and get you to buy it all and use it at your church.  and if that isn't quite your flavor, we have plenty of hymnals available, so that you can sing the old standards, the great songs of our faith, most of which are a couple hundred years old or so.  to paraphrase n.t. wright, when we neglect, ignore, or forget the psalms as our first hymnbook, we are like children who have been led up to the edge of niagara falls that they might look out and behold its incredible strength and beauty, but they have instead been content to keep their heads down and play with their video games.  we have settled for something far inferior. 

so let us embrace the psalms.  let us read them in our own homes.  let us quote them at our meals.  let us sing them in our churches.  let us pray them in our hours of darkness.  let us dance them in our moments of elation.  let us know them deep within our souls.  they are songs of life. 

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