The Psalms: The longest book of the Bible, containing the shortest chapter (Ps. 117, 2 verses), as well as the longest (Ps. 119, 176 verses); and also containing within its 150 chapters, the entire message of the Bible.
The Psalms are actually ancient songs, ancient pieces of poetry. They put our inner longings into words, expressing our feelings through pleadings, sorry, penitence, petition and thanksgiving. They cover the entire range of human experience and emotion, asking important questions about God, humanity, and the purpose of life.
Interestingly, Jesus quoted from the Psalms more often than from any other book of the Old Testament (See Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:40-44; Matt. 22:41-46, etc), and He often used the Psalms when addressing His Father.
With all of this in mind, is it for naught that so many Christians incorporate the Psalms into worship services, daily devotions and personal prayer?**
I, like so many, read the Psalms; but not being someone who appreciates the fine nuances of meaning through poetry, I find that it is only in meditating upon the Psalms and praying them that I receive the maximum potential blessing God has for me through these writings. Today, by focusing on Ps. 25, I would like to give you an example of how the Psalms can take on special meaning, even in mundane, ordinary situations...
I recently found myself spending 3 months in the driver's seat of rental cars in Australia. Having grown up in North America where everyone drives on the right, how would I ever remember to drive on the left?
The first 2 verses of Ps. 25 became my daily prayer (taken from the NIV and personalized to my situation):
"In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you (to keep me on the left side of the road);
do not let me be put to shame (by driving on the right),
nor let my enemies (of innate habit) triumph over me." (vs. 1-2)
It's amazing how God came through, and the next verse became my prayer of thanksgiving:
"No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame (by driving on the right)..." (vs 3a)
I seem to forget very quickly. After just a week of no mistakes, I stopped praying that prayer. The result? I pulled out that morning and drove 3 blocks on the right! My prayer that night was a bit different:
"Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways (of self-reliance);
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good." (vs. 6-7)
You can be sure that I went back to my morning prayer the very next day:
"Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me (to stay on the left side of the road),
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope (at being able to drive safely) is in you all day long." (Vs. 4-5)
Once again, there were no mistakes that day, and my prayer was one of thanksgiving:
"Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way (to stay on the correct side of the road)..." (Vs. 8-9)
As time went on, distraction slipped in. We had heard there was a wild Cassowary (Flightless bird) on the side of the road ahead. Being so preoccupied with our bird hunt, I didn't realize I was driving on the right...
We found the Cassowary about 2 km up the road, and as it wasn't a busy road, I stopped--in the right lane, naturally--to watch it. Moments later, a car rounded the bend--in my lane! Only it wasn't my lane, was it? It was really his...I pulled off the road into the grass to the right and the car passed without harm.
"For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity (at not staying focussed upon You), though it is great." (vs. 11)
But wait. Even when I had stopped asking God for help, He protected me. He forgave me for the distraction, and He placed the Cassowary at the only place on that narrow road where I would be able to pull off! The words of vs. 12-15 were so fitting:
"Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity (and protection!),
and their descendants will inherit the land." (Vs. 12-13)
One day I turned to the right, across traffic, into the second lane of a 4-lane divided road. There were cars behind me and beside me to the left, all going my direction; but most notably there was a car in my lane, headed straight towards me! I pulled into the left lane just in time to avoid a head-on collision. I hadn't been in the wrong; nonetheless, the potential collision would have been just as bad. My prayer?
"Guard my life and rescue me (whether I'm in the right or wrong);
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you." (Vs. 12-15, 20-21)
Whatever the situation you are in, why not try praying through a Psalm today? Ask God to direct you to the right one, and then pray those words, putting yourself and your situation into the verses. Not only will it make your requests more effective, but it will also make your praise and thanksgiving more effective as well!
** Information gathered from https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-study-the-psalms/
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author --
"Aboard God's Train -- A
Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire "Lessons From the Psalms" mini-series, please click here.)