For many years I regarded the psalms almost as optional extras to “mainline spiritual truth”—the sort of thing you read when you are too sick to concentrate or too tired to keep awake for more than a few minutes. I enjoyed singing them with Presbyterians, chanting them with Episcopalians, quoting them to the dying, and reading them in my devotions. But they were little more than the frosting on the cake—the work of mystical poets mixed in with the “important” work of realistic theologians to make it a little more palatable.
My problem was that though I had read, sung, chanted, and warbled the psalms, I had never really studied them. When I did, I had a big surprise!
I became so excited with my study that I embarked on a yearlong series of sermons to the congregation of Elmbrook Church. I taught on the psalms as I spoke to missionaries in foreign countries, students in academic settings, and to businesspeople. I preached the psalms on radio broadcasts. I talked about them to anybody who would listen. And do you know what I discovered? Just about everyone expressed the same surprise I had felt:
“I never realized how clearly the psalms speak to the pertinent issues of our day.”
“We had read the psalms before going to sleep at night, but we never studied them as God’s Word to us for day-to-day activities.”
“We didn’t realize the clarity of the world-view expressed in this part of the Bible.”
Now, many years later, I’m still finding that people in all sorts of situations are interested to know what God has to say through the psalms. They touch on real-life issues and provide a view of a very personal God—a reality we urgently need in today’s impersonal and complex world. May these studies continue to show many people what will work when their lives don’t.