Some thoughts on the Psalms

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I’ve been thinking about the Psalms. There are 150 of them. They are found in the Old Testament. Some are quoted in part in the New Testament.

There was a time in the church when it was thought that the Psalms alone were suitable to be sung in worship. Some are still of that opinion. Church hymnals in use today often include Psalms, although not exclusively. However, the Psalms are generally either the basis for hymn texts or are metrical versions of the same.

The Psalms cover a variety of human emotions. Whatever the mood, there is usually a corresponding Psalm. They give written expression to our feelings and can serve as an outlet for us.

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For me, the most striking feature of the Psalms is their transparency. They are honest and often very forthright, sometimes even shocking in their content. One needs to remind himself/herself that these were composed within the faith community. The psalmists don’t beat around the bush or sugarcoat what they have to say, but are out with it. They tell it like it is, or at least as it appears to them to be. That’s refreshing.

I grew up in a pietistic religious tradition that unintentionally encouraged dishonesty in my relationship with God. I didn’t dare express anger or frustration with God/ to God. It was unspiritual and blatantly wrong. I don’t think that way anymore. Whatever we’re feeling toward Him, He can take it from us if we express it to Him. To say be honest with God is not to say be belligerent with Him. After all, He is God and therefore we should be respectful of Him. It is to say that we should be transparently honest with Him. Pretense, however well intentioned, is not appreciated. God can see right through our pretense anyway and I think He appreciates our integrity. Jesus, the Son of God reserved some of His severest criticism for religious hypocrisy or pretense.

The Psalms make for excellent devotional reading, especially from the King James Version of the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with reading them from some other version of the Bible. It’s just that the King James Version, in my opinion is unexcelled in beauty of expression when it comes to the Psalms.

A verse from the Psalms (31:5) was the last word spoken by Jesus from the cross. That in itself should be enough to commend the Book of Psalms to us for our reading.


– Darryl Maxwell,
Baptist Pastor. Retired