my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100: 1&2
One of the amazing characteristics of the Psalms is the passion that leaps from the words and phrases. The Psalms are not cold, calculated and remote. They are heartfelt. Filled with joyous, desperate, angry, exhausted, amazed and yearning cries , pleas and exaltations.
To put it differently, the writers have a living and engaged relationship with God. There is nothing distant or clinical. We see similar expressions in slaves yearning for freedom “I wants to go where Moses trod,/O de dying Lamb !/For Moses gone to de promised land,/ O de dying Lamb !) These songs are personal and immediate. During WW2 no one under the boot of the oppressors sang or read Psalm 91 (“Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.”) without the words coming from the very depths of their being. Years later in the safety of a new country, I know from my own family, those words in Psalm 91 still brought up the tremors of dark memories as well as the overwhelming realisation that God had been with the family through those dark times.
The Psalms are a clue to the relationship that God wants with us – a living, ongoing and thirsting connection between Him and the very core of our beings. We also see in the Psalms honesty and vulnerability. Pretence and self-aggrandisement are put aside. The Psalmist is completely open with God with all his feelings.
I fell in love with the Psalms during one of the tougher times of my life and in the process I came to realise how close God was all the time. His comfort, challenge and direction were never far away. The Psalms became, for me, a gateway to worship – a worship that is founded upon an utter and helpless dependence on a living God.
Immerse yourself in the Psalms and be amazed how near God is!