Searing pain. Boundless jubilation. Crushing despondency. Desperate fear. Brutal revenge. Steadfast faith. The Psalms, perhaps more than any other section of Scripture, invoke a breathtaking range of emotion, from the soaring heights to the darkest depths of our earthbound existence. They are a window into the soul of humanity and the heart of God, ultimately proclaiming God’s lavish affection for his broken people.
From the opening lines of the book – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but his delight is in the law of the Lord…” – we sense that a different sort of relationship is intended between these songs and their readers. A relationship marked by unvarnished honesty and raw emotion, gifting vibrancy and depth to nearly every facet of our human experience.
Yet, these songs are not merely an emotional outlet or a vehicle for passionate expression. They engage the mind every bit as much as the heart. The clarion call to remember God’s deeds, to recall His deliverances, to recognize His rich provision – not just for decades, but for millennia – fastens mind and heart firmly together in a full-orbed view of life devoted to the One whose steadfast love (Hebrew: “hesed”) endures forever.
Most importantly, the Psalms are a herald for the Messiah, and perhaps illuminate the experience of Jesus Christ more intimately than any other Old Testament writings. They foreshadow God’s plan for salvation and reveal the fullness of the suffering necessary for that plan to come to fruition. Jesus himself invokes the Psalms numerous times throughout His ministry, even reciting their words while hanging on the cross.
The Psalms call us to praise the great God of our salvation and to remember his extravagant love for His people, both collectively and individually. How will we respond?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)