I am starting a long series on this blog and hope to take a drastic turn for a season. I have been captivated, like many of you, by the Psalms and how each Psalm seems to speak to the context I am experiencing. Just the mention of the phrase, “tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psa. 23:4) brings limitless amounts of comfort in an intense amount of pain. St. Benedict used to ask that the monks in his monastery follow the Benedictine Rite in which all of the Psalms would be recited at least once during the week. The Psalms speak to situations where sermons cannot touch.
Often I find myself going to the Psalms when a word needs to be shared in times of grief and in times of joy. No doubt you have a Psalm for this situation or one for that situation and they are trump cards for facing enormous amounts of evil. I want to walk through the various types of Psalms and journey through them as if I am sitting in a room full of teenagers. I want to ask questions, and wrestle with the implications (or imprecations… we will talk about that later) that the Psalm presents. I believe this is necessary because the life of a teenager is so complex and multifaceted that only a Psalm can speak to their souls with the magnitude that is needed for both a love of God but also a life-change.
I can tell you exactly the weight I felt when I read the words, “Against you and you alone have I sinned” (Psa. 51:4). I can remember the power of God in the midst of my situation when I cried, “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in the time of trouble” (Psa. 46:1). These words go beyond the pages of Scripture and soon become footprints in our soul. You can have seven points in a sermon all starting with the letter “P” but that means nothing like a word from King David stating “the Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer” (Psa. 18:2).
So I am going to journey each week through a different category of Psalms (wisdom, praise, etc.) and I am going to take my time. I will offer discussion questions, my notes from the text and maybe some brief comments. I may post for 1000 words or it may be 100. Depends. But my goal is to imagine a conversation with a teenager and then ask some very pointed questions I think the text is demanding from us.
I will use an excellent book called Encountering the Book of Psalms by C. Hassell Bullock. I know, I know. You can probably rattle off 4 or 5 commentaries that are more scholarly and newer than that one. Do me a favor would you? Extend your arm above your head and face your palms backwards then pat your back a few times and tell yourself, “I know more scholarly works than Robbie does!” There. You feel better? This is not a scholarly treatise as the teenagers need to read Scripture more for transformation than information. Both are important and are not mutually exclusive. But… they are teenagers and not trained seminary students.
I hope this series goes well. Thank you.