In our reading today we begin our journey through the hymn book of God’s people – the Book of Psalms. Hymns to pagan gods have been preserved in the literature, but they are much different than the Psalms. Hymns to the gods and demi-gods in Greece are written in very flattering tones which are meant to propitiate them. There are beautiful songs which celebrate their birth but there are “no wrestling in prayer with tearful eyes and downcast head, and (no) full assurance of faith, such as has made the Psalms for all time the expression of the devotional feelings of men.” (Baxter)
In the Book of Psalms, we have praise and prayer, trouble and triumph, sadness and gladness, fears and hopes which are all brought before the LORD. “Here the persecuted and the forsaken find reassurance in their time of need. Here the weeping penitent finds that which suits the broken and the contrite heart. Yea, here the Christian believer discerns the figure of His Lord, moving among the psalms of David as truly as among the 7 golden lampstands Apocalypse”. (Baxter)
Psalm 1 is a great introduction to the whole Book of Psalms. It contrasts 2 ways of life: those who reject the LORD and do not walk in His ways; and those who trust the LORD and delight in His word. The first are like chaff who will not be able to stand in the judgment; the latter are like “trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in season, whose leaves do not whither.” In a profound way, this summarizes the 2 destinies of every person that ever lived.
In Psalm2, we have the 1st messianic Psalm of the Book. Other Messianic Psalms include Ps. 22 (which talk of the Messiah’s sufferings), Ps. 45 and Ps. 72. Christians believe that the words in Psalm 2 are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews. Originally this Psalm was written for the Davidic kings who served under the Mosaic Covenant.
Who can fail to mention the magisterial Psalm 23, “The LORD is my Shepherd”. This is probably one of the best known pieces of literature in the whole world. Millions of people who have walked through the darkest valleys have gained great comfort through the consoling words of this God-inspired poem.
Many Psalms celebrate the deliverance and redemption God wrought in the life of His people. Other Psalms like Ps. 8 and Ps. 19 praise God for His glory revealed in creation. The Psalms reveal the LORD in the fullness of His glorious character. They record the anguishes, prayers and praises of fellow pilgrims who have been knocked into the ditch of life. They give testimony to the faithfulness of God and to the faith of His people who refuse to stay in the ditch. The LORD can be trusted no matter the situation we find ourselves in. He is a shield around us and the lifter of our heads. (Ps.3:3) In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John