Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ten reasons to read Psalms not the newspaper

I've started carrying The Book of Common Prayer in my handbag to work. It contains various services of the Protestant church and the complete Psalter (the wholeBook of Psalms).  I now read the Psalms on the train to London, rather than a newspaper and latterly, I have sensed that people sitting around me understand what I am doing - and they are rather appreciative!  After all, modern news seems either shocking, baffling, depressing or just plain boring. The Psalms are emotion and poetry! 

Pastor Uri Brito, a reformed pastor in Florida believes the Psalms should be sung as well. He has given these ten reasons why:

  • First, the singing of Psalms is an explicit biblical command: (Psalms 27:6). The Scriptures encourage us to sing "Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16). Having the Word of Christ dwelling in you richly means investing in the rich beauty of the Psalter. How could we sing what we do not know? Is there a better way to make our own Scripture than to sing it?
  • Second, the Psalmody was the ancient practice of the Church which has continued for 1800 years. In singing their songs, we honour our ancestors and history.
  • Third, Calvin notes that the Psalms are "An anatomy of all parts of the soul", because there is no 'emotion of which you may be aware that it is not reflected herein'. The Psalms satisfy the whole human being. We are 'homos adorans' or adoring beings. The Psalter is an exciting book. It is comforting for the people of God in the different stages of life. As a minister, I have never been asked to read entering a hospital room, a text of Leviticus or Romans, but every time I have been asked to read a Psalm (most of the time Psalm 23). The Psalms speak to the depths of our humanity in time of trouble.
  •  Fourth, sing the Psalms strengthen Christian piety. They are nourishment for our souls. This is the devotional book of God. Singing the Psalms returns to us the joy of  salvation. Ask me which book of the Bible would take to a desert island and I would not hesitate to say: "The Psalms."
  • Fifth, the Psalms were created ultimately for the body. You can sing alone, but they reach their peak when they are sung in the company. They are intended to be "roaring" (Psalm 47:1) because they were written by the Lion of Judah.  
  • "We sing because we join in singing a melody in a breath and shared in a way that no other medium can reproduce an assembly ... We become unified in purpose and thought. And on our part, we listen to the Word of God for us , and the world hears loud and clear "
  • Sixth, we should sing the Psalms because they re-form, redirect our attention. Christians are a people under constant sanctification by the Spirit of God. How should they pray? How should they ask God? How complain? The Psalms help us to answer these questions and then shape us more and more in the image of Christ.
  • Seventh, in singing the Psalms we worship the Spirit. In the Bible, the Spirit hovers, regenerates. He is the 'music of God' to the world. At a time when the Third Person of the Trinity has become the subject of theological confusion, the Psalms keep us focused on his role and objectives in history.
  • Eighth, we must sing the Psalms, because our songs are modern and superficial. The Psalms are rich and full of substance. If we ask why the church has become so helpless, one of the reasons is its modern worship has become commonplace. Modern worship is often an exercise in modern pietistic, which manifests itself in a pessimistic and badly articulated theology.But the Psalms teach us that God is rich in mercy and powerful of all his enemies (Psalm 2). The Psalms are statements: they robustly question those who question the supremacy of King Jesus...
  • Ninth, the Psalms should be sung because our children need to hear them. Our children need to know the God they worship in a profound way, from their earliest days.We become what we worship, and so our children will become what we sing.
  •  Tenth, we should sing the Psalms - because the world needs it. The world does not need a Gospel which is submissive, because it has already seen too much accommodation. People need to hear a Gospel about a God who welcomes the praise that will not allow evil to go unpunished and that prepares a table for those who persevere.

1 comment:

  1. A good article. It's interesting how going through the daily Lectionary some Psalms come up for me with great force - particularly, Psalms 119, 147, 132, 76, 146, especially 'Put not your trust in princes' (rulers) which seems to recur regularly.
    Best wishes.