Three reasons you should read the Psalms
The beautiful poetry of the Bible helps us open our hearts to God.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
The book of Psalms is the biggest book in the Bible, with 150 chapters. Yet these days it doesn’t get read very much. Maybe that's because it is so big or maybe people don’t like poetry ... or maybe because we don’t know why we should.
Well, this term, as I have spent some time reading through the Psalms, I have seen how enriching it is to read through these songs and poems. Here are just three reasons why you should take a look:
1. The Psalms help us to PRAISE God
Over and over again through the Psalms, you find a call for both individuals and communities to praise the Lord. God doesn’t need us to praise him, yet he deserves it. And when we do, it is of great benefit to us. Of course there are all sorts of reasons given to motivate us to praise God as you read about his great acts. But more than that we are to praise God for who he is, his loving kindness and his rightful place as King over all creation.
Praise is the appropriate response to God for it redirects credit and glory from us to Him. We are to speak of how amazing God is to our friends, family, neighbours and anyone we meet. The Psalms help us to do that. Also, they keep us humble, reminding us that there is a God and we are not him. Psalm 117 is a good example:
Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.
2. The Psalms help us PRAY to God
The Psalms give us permission and language that help us to relate honestly towards God.
You get the whole range of human emotion through the Psalms, all the way from ecstatic singing through to depression and pain. But this helps us in our own prayers to God, letting us know it's ok to cry out to him for help. Psalms can even give us things to say when we don’t feel we know what to pray. So by reading them and learning them, the Psalms help us pray to God.
And Psalms of thanksgiving acknowledge how God has answered prayers! The Psalms call on God to keep his promises and thank him when he does. One such psalm is Psalm 5, that starts off:
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
3. The Psalms help us understand JESUS better
The whole Bible is good to read because the whole Bible is about Jesus (just check out Luke 24:44).
The Psalms are no exception to this, and so as we read them we can learn more about Jesus. In fact, a key character in the Psalms is God’s anointed king, and many of the Psalms are written by King David, Jesus’s ancestor.
This anointed king, the Christ, is introduced right at the beginning in Psalm 2. As we read about him we can see that although this Psalm certainly had meaning in its original context, it finds complete fulfillment in Jesus. For Jesus is the one who is God’s anointed king to rule over the nations.
Similarly when Jesus came to earth the book of Psalms was often on his lips, no more so than when he was on the cross and cried out a direct quote from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So if you have never read the Psalms before or have come to a stop in your Bible reading, check out the Psalms. Reading the Bible will always be a good way for us to grow in our relationship with God and reading the Psalms will surely help you in that. The Psalms will help you praise God, pray to God and understand Jesus better.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.—Psalm 119:11