Our church had a singing recently. It was one of those where we had the opportunity to request our favorites. Only instead of calling out the name of the song, we called out the number in the songbook (as we always do). So on this particular occasion there was a flurry of “number calling” as everyone was eager for their song to be sung by all.
I love how most people knew their song so well they could call it by number. There wasn’t any fervent paging through the songbook, searching through the index, or anything like that. They knew the number because they have long carried the truths the song highlights in their hearts. It has lifted their spirits when they were down and focused their faith when they were scattered. It has convicted, inspired, and instructed.
So while all of that what taking place, I was thinking about when the Jewish people caravanned to Jerusalem three times a year for the great feasts they celebrated as a nation. As they traveled, they would sing different songs from their songbook which we know today as the Book of Psalms. I wondered if someone shouted out “84” or “139” or “46” like we did.
Whatever the case, I know this—people loved the Book of Psalms! Christ loved it and quoted it more than any other book of the Bible. Although it’s my impression that we’re not as familiar with it as previous generations, I think we love it as well. We love it because the psalms speak so powerfully and pointedly to us no matter what season of life we might be in. One reason for this is that while the other books of the Bible are generally about God speaking to us, the Book of Psalms is about us speaking to God.
And we have a lot to say, don’t we?
The last psalms were written centuries before Christ, yet they possess a sense of timelessness that enables them to touch our lives today. Though they were written by people whose culture was far removed from ours, they nonetheless speak to us because they deal with universal themes like suffering, joy, wonder, questioning, disappointment, thankfulness, trouble, praise, and all of the other hues and shades of our existence.
So we sang that night as people have since time began. As a people, we expressed our faith as well as our frailty, our hopes and our fears, our joy and our sorrows. We sang to each other and to our Father above.
Because You are my help, I will sing in the shadow of Your wings. (Psalm 63:7)