Finding God In The Book Of Psalms
My daily Bible readings for the past few days have found me in the book of Psalms, with one of these readings encompassing Psalms 40–46. As I pondered over these inspired works of ancient poetry, I began to notice very distinct and varying pictures of God emerge. Consider a brief summation of each:
- Psalm 40: After patient waiting, David sees the salvation of the Lord
- Psalm 41: David knows that the Lord takes care of the poor and will take care of him as enemies prevail
- Psalm 42: The sons of Korah see no need for depression because, even in bad times, there should be a remembrance that God will take care of His own
- Psalm 43: The anonymous author feels abandoned by God; yet, His hope is that God will answer his soul
- Psalm 44: The sons of Korah express great sadness that God has hidden Himself from His people; He is called upon to wake up and come to the aid of those who trust in Him
- Psalm 45: The sons of Korah majestically proclaim that God is a great warrior who will never be brought down
- Psalm 46: The sons of Korah reflect on the refuge and strength found in God; therefore, one needs to slow down and ponder what can be found in Him
While each of these psalms presents a unique perspective, the themes they present are not unique to the book; these are the kinds of thoughts the psalmists express throughout the entirety of their beautiful poetic work. Still, one might wonder how such varying views can describe the same God. How can a warrior God who cannot be stopped be called upon to wake up? Why does a God who makes Himself known to the poor hide from His people? The answer to these questions requires both an understanding of the book and an understanding of life itself.
For most families, a photo album is a cherished possession. Within its pages, one can watch children grow up, families change, and age take its toll. Each photo is a story; each is a reminder and reflection of a moment in time within the family’s life. The book of Psalms is a verbal photo album in which God has chosen 150 “snapshots” from various individuals to be included within its pages. Each psalm is a snapshot into the psalmist’s life at a moment in time. Some were written in times of joy, some in times of doubt, some in times of faith, and some in times of sorrow. For each, God was in view, but from very different perspectives; thus, great victory brought about a robust view of God in His mighty power; downturns in faith brought about a longing for God to prove Himself; sins brought about strong desire to restore with God what was broken. God recorded these various personal thoughts because He knew they were not unique to the psalmists; His people of all ages would experience the same feelings of strength, weakness, success, and failure.
Interestingly, the same psalmist could present very different views of God. Consider “the sweet psalmist of Israel,” David, whose works comprise a large portion of the book. At times David saw God as strong and powerful; at other times He pondered why God was not near. Some of his psalms express great faith, while others demonstrate humility as sin ravaged his life. David’s story is no different than that of other saints in the fact that each goes through times of strength and times of weakness. As with David, God at times seems near and powerful, while at other times seems unconcerned and distant. The book of Psalms is a great tool in navigating life with respect to one’s relationship with God. It ably demonstrates that God knows how we feel and has shown that we are not alone in these feelings.
Cell phones have certainly changed life in modern times, with the phrase “there’s an app for that” illustrating their far reaching influence. To borrow this idea, no matter what is going on in your life, remember “there’s a psalm for that!” These ancient writers dealt with the same feelings and issues as their modern readers and were unafraid to pour out these feelings to God. May we each benefit from this inspired book given by God Himself to help us on our journey through this life.