This summer, we're spending a number of weeks in one of my favorite books in the Bible: The Psalms.
The Book of Psalms in the scriptures is a collection of 150 prayers and songs of worship that span hundreds of years of Israel's history and experience. Many were written by David, the first "true" king (and arguably the
greatest) of Israel. A man who was passionate for God, but also just passionate, period. He lived life with gusto, and his Psalms reflect that.
Perhaps one of the things that makes the Psalms a great place to turn to get "schooled" in connecting with God is that they are so raw and so honest. Frankly, many of them are flat out disturbing. When the "Psalmist" (the one who's writing the Psalm) is just down in the dumps, disappointed with God, and wondering what's going on, he'll just SAY that (Psalm 27 or 61)! When he's surrounded by enemies, feeling beaten up, he'll cry out to God to break their teeth (Psalm 3) or worse (Psalm 109)! When he's feeling grateful, he let's his praises pour out unreservedly (Psalm 65 or 95). When he feels like God is distant, he writes as though his whole body is about to waste away unless God shows up (Psalm 63).
Some of the Psalms begin with brief descriptions of the historical circumstances that led to them being written (Psalm 3 and Psalm 51). Many were written to be sung as "pilgrims" were traveling up to the city of Jerusalem for great festivals or to worship at the temple. These are called "Psalms of Ascent" (since the city of Jerusalem sits at the top of a hill called Zion, traveling into the city always required "ascending"). As you read these Psalms, you can almost taste the anticipation of being at the temple and worshiping God (Psalm 121 and 127). Other Psalms were written to teach through song (Psalm 1 or 78 -- a great Psalm which begins with the passion to pass on the life of faith to the next generation, and, like many others, tells part of the story of God's people). Some of the Psalms are extremely brief (Psalm 100 or 150). Others are very long (Psalm 119 is the longest "chapter" in the Bible).
Jump into this rich book with us this summer. Go to the "current series" page and download one of the two reading plans and read through the book with us. Join one of our LIFEgroups that are discussing the Psalms. And by all means, join us at our weekend gatherings as we unpack the story and context of a few of these Psalms and apply them to our lives.