Have you ever turned a corner in your life and been totally surprised by what you found? There are wonderful stories about this, where people have walked into blessings beyond their wildest dreams: finances, relationships, a new job, etc. There are other stories that aren’t so wonderful. These are the corners you turn and find a job loss, a broken relationship, an illness, etc.
Our family has turned the corner to find one of these such things. It’s not fun, at all, but…I told someone this week that even though we had no clue what was around the corner, God was both turning the corner with us, and already there to meet us.
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How do we pray during these kinds of seasons?
How do we talk to God when things become chaotic and out of control?
What’s our plan for when we feel very far away from God?
The Psalms are…
– the prayer book for a community of people
– words to use when your own words are hard to say or hard to find
– liturgy in good and bad seasons
– some kind of consistency when life is far from consistent
Some have called the Psalms the great Hymnbook of the Bible.
They are among the oldest poems in the world.
They can be, for those who want them to be, a window into the bright lights and the dark corners of the soul.
Often times, they point beyond present realities, while still hitting home so deeply; like a good and well written song, they say more than the author may have even intended them to say.
NTW said this about the Psalms:
“It seems wisest to think of the Psalms, in their present forms, being collected and shaped in the time of the Exile in Babylon (6th Century BC). When paradoxically, the people who found it unthinkable to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land may have found that actually singing those songs (and writing some new ones) was one of the few things that kept them sane and gave them hope.”
What’s he trying to say?
The Psalms are poems and songs that do more than you think they can do, touch deeper than you think you needed, say more than you even knew you needed to hear.
For the next few weeks this summer, we’ll dive into a few of these songs/poems and see what they say, how they impact us, and what God does with and through them.
We’re calling this series, Village Songs, because these are songs for and from a community. Our hope is that 1) we understand what they have to say on the surface, and 2) they spur us on to sing our own songs to God – our own raw, real and redemptive songs to God.
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For today, I’d like us to briefly look at Psalm 61.
King David wrote this song. We’re not sure the context or the setting, but we know one thing for sure, it was written from a deep love for God that came out of great adversity and struggle.
It has two running themes in it…
– A prayer for protection (from God)
– A declaration of confidence (in God)
Let’s read it and see where we land:
1 Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
4 I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
5 For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
6 Increase the days of the king’s life,
his years for many generations.
7 May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.
8 Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
and fulfill my vows day after day.
We can split this Psalm up in 3 ways with 3 words:
We read words like this…
Hear me / Listen to me / Lead me / I long for you
David is pouring his heart out. We don’t know exactly why, but we know he is struggling.
The words ‘from the ends of the earth’ are a metaphor for distance – the distance between him and God.
- Think of some metaphors you use that aren’t true, but reflect the truth about how you’re feeling.
- Life is like a roller coaster
- My home feels like a prison (said many 14 year old girls)
- The DVP is always a parking lot (ok, this might be real)
- He/She is a walking dictionary
All of these aren’t real, but they’re real to you.
Because David truly and deeply feels far from God…he has the confidence to ask him…
Hear me GOD
Listen to me GOD
As a kid I used to try and get my mom’s attention by moving her chin towards me. It was probably rude, but I just wanted my mom to look at me when I was talking to her. Guess who does that to me now? My daughter.
Lead me…to the ROCK that is HIGHER than I.
If we can just get to this point in our lives at every moment and every turn.
- God you’re the ROCK
- God you’re stronger
- God I’m lower
- God you’re higher
These are song lyrics you can sing no matter what year it is, what era, what culture, what circumstance – they ring true forever.
The Psalmist moves from the question to the reason why he’s asking God this question.
YOU have been
YOU have heard
YOU have given
Sometimes…especially when praying, you have to look back in order to move forward.
David is reminding God…but really he’s reminding himself…that God was and is his refuge, his strength, his shelter…that God has heard his vows and promises…and that God has given him a story to be part of (heritage).
Let me tell you, that when I pray these days, as much as I’m asking God to do a miracle, I’m reminding ourselves that He’s already done so much in my life.
Why? 2 reasons:
– So we can believe that God can do it.
– So we’re reminded that God’s always been with us and always will.
Our prayers and songs all have to land somewhere.
David shows us, in 61, and elsewhere, that his songs always end with praise and a resettling of his faith in God.
The point of this series is more for application than it is for knowledge.
Our hope is that we can learn to use the Psalms as a prayer book this summer…and long after that.
Will you take up this challenge with me?
Read the Psalms for the next 90 days.
6 days a week
2 psalms a day
By the end of the summer (Sept 21) we would have read through the Psalms together.
As we do that, may we be led to the ROCK who is higher than I.
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Reading Plan example for week one…
Day 1: Morning – Psalm 1 Evening – Psalm 2
Day 2: Morning – Psalm 3 Evening – Psalm 4
Day 3: Morning – Psalm 5 Evening – Psalm 6
Day 4: Morning – Psalm 7 Evening – Psalm 8
Day 5: Morning – Psalm 9 Evening – Psalm 10
Day 6: Morning – Psalm 11 Evening – Psalm 12
Day 7: BREAK
Continue this pattern through out the summer until you reach September 21 or Psalm 150.