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August 1, 2023
July 23, 2024

Psalms: Our Symphony

The Psalms draw us into God’s story and give voice to our own. From the foundation of the world, God has been building His kingdom here on earth. Through His covenant promise to Abraham, He chose a people to declare His own and promised them a land and a king. In doing this, His story became their story—and their story is now ours. Their rich language of poetry sings this story with beauty and cadence. The various categories of psalms resonate with the myriad seasons of their lives and ours. Whether through hymns of praise or laments of deep despair, Psalms invites us to join our voice to the chorus as one people enveloped into a five-part symphony of our God.

The first movement is Book 1, composed of Psalms 1-41. Here we see the story open with CONFRONTATION. Through miraculous circumstances and over centuries, God fulfilled His covenant promises to Abraham—proving that the Lord reigns from eternity to eternity. The people received the land and a king through Moses, Joshua; and in David, who confronted numerous enemies before sitting on the throne as God’s representative ruler. But the Lord’s reign entails confrontation for humanity. David is confronted with many enemies opposed to God’s righteous kingdom. Yet the Lord is always faithful! When His people turn from wickedness and choose to trust Him, the Lord protects the righteous on their path.

The second movement is Book 2, composed of Psalms 42-72. The theme of COMMUNICATION is brought forward here. God’s righteous rule is not only for the people of Israel; God desires and invites all people to know Him. This is the essence of what it means to be blessed—the transformative experience of knowing God as the giver. In this way, God blesses through communication. His blessed people become heralds of this blessed gift to ourselves, to others, and even back to Him as we acknowledge who He is and what He has done. God’s people know, remember, and share His blessings.

Yet we are a forgetful people. Israel and her kings forgot their God and chose to follow the path of the wicked. Book 3, composed of Psalms 73-89, ushers in DEVASTATION. In His sovereignty, God brings devastation both within and eventually from outside the kingdom through war, famine, and exile. But it is to wake His people up from forgetfulness rather than to show He has abandoned them. God never leaves nor forsakes His people. Though we may move away from Him, He remains always present to correct, to comfort, and to protect. The Lord is our sovereign sanctuary in the midst of devastation. This truth compels His people to draw near to Him once again. He is our only help in trouble and offers compassion to those who turn back to Him. Therefore, God’s people cry out to Him in suffering knowing He will hear and rescue them.

Devastation brings forth MATURATION in Book 4, composed of Psalms 90-106. God wants His people to flourish and is zealous for them to bear fruit to the end. Like a skillful gardener, God prunes, endures, and gives hope to His people—even using devastation to cut away what hinders our growth. It is a mark of His steadfast love that He will not leave us as infants in our faith. God is faithful to mature His people. The exiled people of Israel show us that growing in maturity means trusting God in the devastation and counting Him worthy of worship, regardless of present suffering. When faced with hardships, the righteous respond in humility and praise through remembrance, confession, repentance, and thanksgiving.

Book 5 crescendos this symphony into RESTORATION with Psalms 107-150. As His people grow in maturity, they look forward to the day when God’s reign is realized in its fullness. And it will be realized, because God always fulfills His promises and purposes. Israel’s restoration in the land of promise after exile is a precursor to the ultimate restoration that will be experienced in all heaven and earth when God brings restoration to all things through the return of our Messiah King Jesus. Then, not only His people will give praise to His glorious name, but all creation will join in the chorus. All will know that He has created, sustained, redeemed, and restored all things to Himself. As we enjoy His blessings now and await that coming day of jubilee, let everything that has breath praise the Lord

The beauty of God’s story reveals the beauty of our own even its lowest moments. For everything it proclaims sings the story of His redeeming love toward us. As we take in the Psalms, we find lyrics for our own life of faith and are pointed to Jesus as the center of it all. The Psalms draw us into God’s story and give voice to our own.  

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Annette Haralson
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