Friday, April 8, 2011


I have always felt that it was a shame that we tend to spend so little time focusing on the psalms.  The entire range of human emotion can be found in them, and I think reading them and studying them more often can really open us up and allow us to really bring every part of our selves to God.  If nothing else, there is so much beautiful language there that can help us put words to how we are feeling.

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most familiar psalms to us.  This is the psalm we typically read at funerals and hear "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."  These words are a comfort to us in a time of need, but there is so much more inside.  Every month at St. Timothy's, we invite a 5th or 6th grader to speak in front of the congregation about their experience in church school.  For one young boy, he only needed to get 5 words into Psalm 23 to find meaning.  "'The Lord is my shepherd.'  What more do I need to know?"  I remember hearing him say this and thinking to myself, "Wow.  Here's a kid who really gets it."

The psalms, however, provide more than just comforting words.  They can put a voice to our anger and frustration.  Take the first verse of Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?"  Much of the time, we can convince ourselves that crying out to God and expressing our frustration means that we don't have enough faith.  We end up believing that expressing our anger in this way is something we shouldn't do as "good" Christians.  These psalms legitimize our deepest, rawest emotions.  Even Jesus cries out with these words from the cross.

There is so much more that can be found in the psalms.  Take some time to honestly read through them.  Don't be afraid to take some of the words you find there to express your joys and sorrows, love and anger, happiness and frustration.  Let the psalms be a prayer book for you, allowing to fully bring yourself before God.

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