The book of Psalms records every emotion that has ever struck the human heart. Love; anger; fear; hurt; sadness; depression; joy--it's all there. We turn to the psalms because it address the full spectrum of human needs. In these one hundred and fifty songs we find direction for our lives and comfort for dark times. This ancient hymnal of praise speaks to us in ways that affect us beyond words.
The Hebrew title for Psalms (which is Tehillim) simply means "praise songs." The English title of "Psalms" originated from the Septuagint's Greek title Psalmoi, also meaning "songs of praise." Psalms is a hymnbook of praise directed toward God! The psalms contains several doxologies, which are expressions of jubilant praise, which are often accompanied by a "double Amen." As we come to each doxology throughout psalms (Psalm 41; 72; 89; 106) we rejoice with voices raised in praise, exclaiming "Amen!" in response to God's glory and majesty. The psalms encourage its readers to praise God for who He is and what He has done. The psalms illuminate the greatness of our God, proclaim His faithfulness to us in times of despair and despondency, and remind us of the beauty and importance of His word.
Let me encourage you as you read the psalms to remember a few principles. First, the psalms meet us in our everyday lives. No matter what you may be feeling or what circumstances you may be facing, these "songs of praise" are relevant and timely. When we are discouraged, the psalms offer us encouragement. When we are lonely, the psalms offer us comfort. When we are uncertain, the psalms offer us wisdom. When we are repentant, the psalms offer us assurance.
Second, the psalms are all about God. The psalms proclaim the majesty of God and His glory! In the anguish cry of the psalmist's song, we hear the melody of heartfelt praise to God. In the journey through the valley of the shadow of death, the faithful, never-ending presence of God is with us--bringing forth the joyful response from the psalmist's pen: "I will fear no evil for you are with me" (Psalm 23:4). All throughout the psalms we see that God is our Stronghold, our Deliverer, our Fortress, our Rock, our Strength. He has created us to worship him through tears; through pain; through laughter; through prayer. It's all there in these beautiful songs of hope and praise.
As we journey together through the "summer in the Psalms," my prayer is that you see the psalms as a beautiful offering of praise to Jesus. Because the psalms are offered to God, Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, is the appropriate object of our praise and adoration. The psalms are fulfilled in Jesus and point to Jesus. In one of Jesus' post resurrection appearances he encounters his frightened disciples and responds to their disbelief by saying, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44). Jesus as the God-Man is worthy of praise and worship. May we glorify and exalt the One who is both our Strength and our Song (Psalm 118:14).