A Real Relationship
Read Psalm 42:8-11 (ESV)
By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at nights his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
How often do you spend time in prayer communing with God? How often do you honestly express your emotions to Him?
Do you know which Old Testament book is quoted the most often in the New Testament? Well, if you said the Book of Psalms, you are right! It is even quoted by Jesus at several points throughout His earthly ministry. But the Psalms aren’t just quoted a lot in the New Testament. Many people say that their favorite book of the Bible is the book of Psalms. This book is often quoted at the beginning of worship services and at weddings, funerals, or other special ceremonies. The reason I love reading the psalms is because it focuses not just on knowing about God but actually knowing God personally.
When I am having a conversation with someone I know and love deeply, I am not afraid to tell them what is really going on in my life. I know that I can be real with them. I open up about my hurts, my hopes, my dreams, my doubts, my failures, and my fears because I know that I am in a safe space and that the person I’m sharing with cares. In the book of Psalms, the authors reveal the trusting, intimate relationship they had with God. He wasn’t an aloof or abstract part of their life. Their relationship with God was real.
“Psalm” is a Greek word that means “a song sung to the accompaniment of a plucked instrument” and that is what the book of Psalms is—a collection of poems that were set to music and sung as hymns. They were even used in the temples as hymns of worship. The theme of the book is worship, prayer, and praise. The psalmists sincerely expressed many different emotions but they always brought the focus back to God. They could trust Him no matter what they were going through or what they were feeling.
The psalms were written over a period of about a thousand years. Psalm 90 was written by Moses (c. 1410) and Psalm 126 may have been a song the exiles wrote when they returned to Jerusalem (c. 430). 73 of the psalms are attributed to King David but others were written by Asaph, a priest, and the “sons of Korah” who were gifted musicians that led worship for the tabernacle. Two psalms were attributed to King Solomon and two were written by wise men, Heman and Ethan. The rest of the psalms are anonymous, although tradition holds that Ezra may have written some of these. Over time, these 150 psalms were compiled into one volume that is broken up into 5 sections or “books.”
The Scarlet Thread of redemption is not absent from Psalms. On the contrary, foretellings of the Messiah and references to events that were ultimately fulfilled in Christ are found in at least 25 different psalms! Some scholars think even more psalms allude to the Messiah. Regardless, in the psalms we find prophecies concerning the Messiah’s birth, His name and titles, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection.
But the greatest gift the Messiah gave us is the gift of a restored relationship with God. We don’t just get to know things about God, we get to know God personally! Like the psalmists, we can tell God our most intimate thoughts and feelings and we know that He hears us and cares. In today’s psalm, the sons of Korah expressed feeling forgotten by God, mourning, and being downcast in spirit. But they also referred to God as “my rock,” “my salvation,” and “the God of my life.” They affirmed God’s steadfast love and reminded themselves to hope in God and praise Him.
Friends, we have this same privilege. We can pray to God anytime, anywhere. We can be honest with God about our thoughts and feelings. But at the end of the day, psalms are about worshiping and praising God. When we include praise and worship in our prayers, like the psalmists did, we remind our hearts who we are talking to, and our faith is bolstered. We can join with the psalmist and say, “Know that the LORD he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name” (Psalm 100:3-4).
Lord, “there is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O LORD my God, with my whole heart and I will glorify your name forever” (Psalm 86:8-12). Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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