Participating in the Psalms

Reading the Psalms is a great devotional habit.  Most years, I read one a day starting January 1 until they’re done and then start again the next year.  However, too often I read through one without it having any effect on me.  Too often I miss that the writers aren’t just trying to teach about God, but they are trying to share their experience of Him with me.  They don’t just want me to know what they know about Him – They want me to feel what they felt about Him, and act as they acted toward Him.  For example, Psalm 96:1-5 reads like instructions:

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
            sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
            tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
            his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
            he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
            but the LORD made the heavens.

Verse 1 isn’t “listen to me sing a new song” but instead it asks everyone (and everything) to sing a new song to God.  The Psalmist wants us to participate with them in their joy, and even spells out how and why to do this:

  • from day to day” – make it a daily habit
  • among the nations” – don’t pick and choose your audience.  Share publicly and indiscriminately
  • For great is the LORD” – because He deserves it
  • For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols” – because no other is worthy

Not only the Psalms, but all worship, requires participation.

I read Psalm 96 a few days ago, and to be honest, I wasn’t “feeling it.”  I didn’t give up.  I took some notes so I wouldn’t lose the idea, but more importantly I struggled with it and prayed that God would show me an opportunity to participate in this Psalm.  Shortly after, I saw the memory of breaking my collarbone in Facebook, which I shared there but also expanded into a post here, praising God for His healing.

I’ve written that: “’A new song’ suggests something that’s creative, offered in praise…Perhaps you are not a ‘creative’ person.  You might be a tax collector or a soldier[1].  You might be a clerk, accountant, lawyer, politician, engineer, housewife or anything else.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s about knowing who you are and dedicating that to the Lord and to others.”

Your situation is not mine.  Few people have blogs, and God doesn’t always deliver answers to prayer in the same way, but in whatever way we can, He wants us to participate in the praise of the Psalms, sharing Him every day, to all people, because He deserves it.

This day and every day, what can you do to “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name”?  Take a moment and ask Him how you might participate in the Psalms.

[1] See Luke 3:12-14

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