As we head into Easter, Rev. Dr. Nick McRae shares how you can seek understanding in the Psalms. Join us for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter worship online or in person. Check out worship times at TMUMC.ORG/easter.
Here we are, the sixth and final week of Lent, right on the cusp of Easter! I hope that these meditations on praying the Psalms have helped you encounter God through Scripture in a new way. I truly believe that praying the Psalms helps us prepare—and stay prepared—for the miracle of renewed life in Christ, whether at Eastertide or any other time of the year. The Psalms can challenge us, re-charge us, and be a means by which Christ changes us more and more into his likeness.
Through my own journey of praying the Psalms, I’ve found that Christ has continued to enlarge my heart and give me deeper understanding of himself, of myself, and of the other people I’ve encountered on the way. I hope you’ll find the same is true for you. As we bring this Lenten blog series to a close, I’d like to distill all that we’ve learned over the past several weeks into three brief propositions:
1.) The Psalms help us understand God.
Like all of Scripture, the Psalms first and foremost help us grow in the knowledge and love of God. For thousands of years, Jews and Christians have turned to the Psalms to encounter God in their public and private worship. The Psalms helps us know the character of the God we serve: God the gentle Shepherd, God the glorious King, God the righteous Judge, God the mighty Warrior, and so much more. As Christians, the Psalms also help us see how everything God’s been doing in the covenant people has always been pointing to Jesus Christ—the Son of David, the Suffering Servant—whom Scripture reveals to be God made flesh. Praying the Psalms drives the beautiful truth of Christ’s love deeper into our hearts and minds with each passing day.
2.) The Psalms help us understand ourselves.
While the Psalms are on one level God’s word to us, they are also clearly human words to God. Because of this, the Psalms reveal the truth about humanity in a way that’s perhaps unique among the books of the Bible. As we pray alongside the psalmists, we come to understand and acknowledge how capable we are of sin, violence, and self-deception. At the same time, we come to understand how lovingly God stitched us all together, how much God cares for us, and how God’s ultimate purpose is to save us from the clutches of sin and death. This self-knowledge invites us into deeper levels of honesty, humility, repentance, gratitude, and reliance upon God. Praying the Psalms helps us continually embrace our need for God.
3.) The Psalms help us understand and love our neighbors.
The vengefulness and violence of the Psalms can be extremely challenging when we’re new to praying them, but once we recognize that our one true enemy is Evil itself and not other human beings—even those deceived and enslaved by Evil—we can pray all of the Psalms with love in our hearts instead of hate. Praying to God for victory over Evil is a powerful spiritual weapon, and offering our frustration to God instead of lashing out at people helps us let go of our anger and open ourselves to compassion and understanding toward those we perceive to be our enemies. Love—and hardest of all, love toward enemies—is one of surest signs of a life that’s been renewed by Jesus Christ. Praying the Psalms is an effective means of pursuing the holiness of heart and life that makes such a thing possible.
Thank you for reading, friends. Whether or not you take up praying the Psalms, I’m confident that, as you seek God in the reading of Scripture and in prayer, you’ll find the One you’re looking for. God is faithful to meet us in our seeking.
And now, as these Lenten meditations come to an end, receive this blessing: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon you today and every day. Go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen!