The Psalms

This week we are going to be looking deeper at Psalm 90.  Today I want to talk a little bit about what the Psalms are. They were the songs for the Jewish people, much like what our hymnal is to us, or what a collection of worship songs would be like.  While not everyone uses hymnals today, I’m sure all of us at some point in our lives have had a hymnal that we are familiar with. And if you are if you’ve never used one before, let me know. I’ll let you borrow one from St. Matthews

Hymnals are interesting things.  I was trained in seminary on how to pick out hymns that correspond both to the scripture of that day, but also that fall in line theologically with the text that you’re preaching from.  One of the highlights of my week each week is on Monday, Tim, Brian, and I sit together in Tim’s office would pick up the hymns for that week’s service. Dr. Frank Pollard, former longtime pastor of First Baptist Church, Jackson said we get our theology, from the scriptures we read, the prayers we pray, and the hymns we sing.  Our hymns teach us our theology and teach us what we believe. 

Well, for the Jewish people that what the Psalms were, the songs for their hymnal. The psalms were the songs that they would sing as they went about their day. The songs were the songs they would sing when they went to the synagogue. These were the songs they would sing when they would go to the temple. You see a Psalm like Psalm 121 that says, I lift up my eyes to the hills from whence does my help come from, it comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. That Psalm says I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence does my help come? Well, in their context, lifting your eyes to the hills is a reference to Jerusalem where the Temple and where the Holy of Holies was. It was there the glory of God resided. I lifted up my eyes to the hills from where my help comes from, what do I find? I found the glory in the presence of God. I lifted my eyes to the hills to find God, who is my help and all things. The Psalms were one of the ways that the Jewish people verbalized their beliefs. But it wasn’t just their belief. You see psalms that are full of anger, like Psalm 137. You see songs that are full of hope. You see psalms that are full of repentance, like Psalm 51.

And you see a Psalm like today, which is a song about wisdom, about the length of our life, and about how frail and fleeting life is, and we’re going to unpack a little bit more what that’s about tomorrow. And because of that, for us, as Christians were the forerunners to our hymns. And in fact, if you look at many hymnals, like our United Methodist Hymnal, or the Book of Common Prayer, or other criminals, you’re going to find are the books of worship rather, you’re going to find the Psalter within it

For the Jewish people, the Psalms were a regular part of their life.  They were that for Jesus, and they should be that for us as well. This week we look deeper at this Psalm and see what it can teach us about life and wisdom.  

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