Psalms Part One: Dive
DON'T LET YOUR VOICE BE SILENCED
As we journey through the books of the Bible together, we thought we would have a ‘creative break’ every now and then to delve into the incredible hymns in the Book of Psalms. If we read all of these incredible poems in one hit, I think we might miss some of the images and metaphors that the book contains. This book contains the word ‘Selah’ over and over again (seventy-one times) and although we really don’t know what this term means, most scholars believe it means ‘to pause’ or ‘to praise’. The Amplified Bible actually replaces it with ‘pause and calmly think about that’. In our TYB schedule, that is what we are going to do when we read each of the five books contained within Psalms. Take time to reflect on these incredible words, slow down your journey and study the images and words that the different authors use, let your creative juices flow and really dive into the topics found in these incredible hymns. For this time around, we are going to get you to read Book I (Psalm 1-41). So let’s jump in.
PSALMS : DON’T LET YOUR VOICE BE SILENCED!
I love reading the Book of Psalms, it is such an inspirational book. The thing I love the most about Psalms is that the writers of the different psalms have no issue with letting their voice be heard, in good times and bad times. Sometimes I feel like we only raise our voice when good things are happening in praise, but Psalms calls us to cry out to God when things are going well and when they are not. David cries out to God in the worst of circumstances–look at Psalm 3 and read just under the heading, it says ‘A Psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom’. What David was going through at the time he wrote this Psalm is recorded in 2 Samuel 15:13-23, and it’s no small thing.
Before we starting reading Book I of Psalms, just flick through and have a look at the descriptions below the title so you can see all the different things that are happening when these psalms were written. Now, I understand that most scholars believe that these titles were added later than the original hymns were written, but I am more than happy and confident to take them as reliable tradition. So have a look at Psalm 51’s description and ask yourself, what would you say to God if you had just committed adultery and been pulled up by a prophet? Would you be hiding from God? Again, you can read what happened in 2 Samuel 11 and then read Psalm 51–no wonder it starts with ‘Have mercy on me, o God, according to your unfailing love’. It goes on in verse 10…
P 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Doesn’t it just heighten the impact, knowing at what point in David’s life he is crying out to God with this Psalm?
Even in the worst times, even when David fell in sin, nothing silenced his heart to cry out to God. Nothing silenced David’s voice to tell God how he was feeling, whether in repentance, in hurt, asking God to intervene, or praising God in the good times. One thing I love about Psalms is that it gives you permission to journey through your emotions with God. The amazing Ryan Smith, a pastor at C3 Church Oxford Falls, is going to expand on this in our Deep Dive.
Sometimes I feel like God only listens to me when I am praising Him or praying in faith and so when I am down or upset, I don’t pray because I don’t want to say something that might offend God. But that is not right and definitely not the case in Psalms. Do not let your voice be silenced by anything: not shame, intimidation, grief, anger or pain. As you read the Psalms, look at the journey that these writers go on in each psalm; At first, some are upset, asking God where He is in the midst of their pain, activating God to vindicate them and then they all work their way through their emotions and end praising God! So today, don’t let your voice be silenced, give yourself permission today in your prayer life to work through your emotion and end in praise. Tell God how you are feeling, ask Him to help you and I can guarantee it, as you get better at crying out to God, you will find every time that you will see His glory and praise Him in His goodness. Some people cry out to friends, cry out to family, but the best way to deal with a hard trial is to cry out to God. This is emotionally healthy praying.
I remember one day I was having a particularly bad time and I had been venting to my friends all day. After all that whinging and complaining to people, I didn’t feel any better so I thought I should pray. I started by doing the same thing that I had been doing with my friends all day, whinging and complaining, after about 2 minutes I felt this overwhelming sense to state what I needed from God in plain and simple terms and then to start praising God. God had heard my prayer and He didn’t need me to explain the situation over and over again, which was becoming whinging and complaining. It was time to stop, ask and praise. So, I did! I will never forget at the end of the praise time, I went to explain to someone the bad situation and it didn’t seem as big as before, it really was quite insignificant compared to how amazing He was. Like the lyrics from the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, my issue had paled into insignificance in the light of His glory and grace.
Emotionally healthy praying is being able to be honest in our prayer lives, telling God when we are hurt, telling God when we are feeling alone, or frustrated, running to God when we have sinned, crying out to God when we are in fear, asking Him for help and ending in praise every time because we know that He is good, that He is active over our lives and that He is the God who hears us when we cry out to Him.
My favourite Psalm right now is Psalm 16, especially verse 5-11
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
There are times when I feel like fear is overtaking me and I just can’t pray. And then this psalm cries out from within–with Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.
Don’t let anything silence your voice, not your mistake or your sin, not sickness, not fear, nor bad circumstances–cry out to God in every season. Don’t run and hide from Him, run to Him and raise your voice! Sometimes fear will stop your praise, or shame, don’t let it! As you read the Psalms, jump back in and raise your voice. Find a high place, a mountain, a table and start getting your voice of praise back no matter what the issue is. You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, see yourself filled with joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11).
Psalms are declarations of the heart to God, release yours today! Have a great time in Book I of Psalms.