Please note the following change to the devotional: The reading for Friday, July 23 is Psalms 6. The reading for Saturday, July 24 is Psalms 7.
Starting July 18th, I invite you to share in a 40-day journey through the “First Book” of the psalms, Psalms 1-41, all of which tradition ascribes to David. Our message series will also include a daily devotional with reflection questions.
Over the next 40 days, I invite you to join me in reading through the first 40 chapters of the Psalms. Here’s why. We have been through a protracted time of severe disruption in our lives and in our culture that is not over yet. Many, including church leaders, feel the fatigue, a weariness of the soul. The psalms were meant to feed the soul, to nourish the spirit; to revive faith, restore hope, and refresh strength. One psalm a day. Not much to ask… but great potential for gain.
In this collection of prayers, we discover the heights and depths of human emotion; the length and breadth of God’s amazing grace; and some of the best-known and loved expressions of faith and God’s faithfulness.
Now, for some observations to help give us perspective and guide our reading. First, the psalms are poetry, Hebrew poetry. They are meant to touch the soul and speak to the heart. Don’t analyze. Instead, observe, taste, and savor.
Second, while much is lost in the translation from Hebrew to English, one consistent characteristic shines through, a literary feature we call parallelism – saying the same thing twice or more but in different ways. Look for it. Listen to it. Learn from it.
Third, the psalms are chock-full of judgment – God’s judgment. But not in the way you think.
Think of two parables on judgment that Jesus told: “the sheep and the goats” in Matthew 25, and “the unjust judge” in Luke 18. The psalms reflect the latter and give eloquent expression to the universal yearning for God’s judgment that will finally bring justice (a factor often overlooked in the cultural construct of “social justice”).
Last, the psalms were written to believers (and those willing to suspend belief) to address both the full range of human experience: suffering, joy, hardship, blessing; and, to reveal the depth of God’s love, mercy, justice, grace. Let the psalms enable you to give expression to your experience, and let them expand your understanding and appreciation of our God and Savior.
One psalm a day for 40 days. A divine prescription for soul care to restore health and make you strong. Use this guide to journal your journey (a healthy exercise in itself!). Or find what psalm we're on in the week's Trail Guide.
May God plant you and me firmly on the banks of the river of life.
Print copies of the devotional are available at church in the narthex, or get the digital version here.