When I first started thinking about doing this exercise of walking through the entire Bible and writing at least a thousand words about each book after reading each one, I was particularly worried about doing several of the books. The one that most of you would think would be the most worrisome would be Revelation. It’s the last book, but it’s also the hardest book to understand. Dragons, scrolls, battles, visions of Patmos, the works. I also worried about large swaths of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy, Leviticus, etc), but those weren’t too hard, save to say they were hard to read and consume. Writing about them wasn’t too bad. Come to find out, genealogies and lists of do’s and don’ts isn’t too bad to understand.
But the one book that I worried about more than any other book was the book of Psalms. Which, in the Christian (and even Jewish) community, that is nigh on heretical. The only thing worse is probably saying that you don’t like Chic Fil A… no? EVERYONE loves the book of Psalms. Bump into someone on the street, what is the first book they will say they read, or know about? Psalms has to be towards the top of this list. Top three anyway.
So what is so worrisome about reading and reviewing Psalms, I hearing you screaming at the screen. TELL ME! TELL ME NOW!!! hahah. Well, problem number one is that it is long. It’s the single longest book in the Bible. There are 150 chapters. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY! 2,461 verses. Over 43,000 words. Almost 44k. That is a fullon YA book. So it’s long. Fine. I dig reading. I can power through that in a couple days. A week on the outside. That isn’t the biggest thing bothering me. The biggest thing is that it is a book of poetry. Besides T.S. Eliot, I’m not a big poetry fan. It’s ok. I read it fairly regularly to try and find something new that I like. Oh, and E. E. Cummings. Oh, of course, and Shakespeare. I’m an enormous Shakespeare fan. Oh, right and Donne. So maybe I do like poetry. Never mind that argument.
Maybe it’s because the book always seems so listless and distracted. A book full of songs and emotions. Every time I open it, it always seemed to be moaning and crying about something. Hehe. But everyone loves it. So why don’t I? That has been my thought for as long as I can remember.
And then I fell off my roof. Or did I jump? You be the judge.
After that I started pondering the bigger picture of things. The how’s and the why’s. The purposes and point of things of the greater life, the universe and everything. And then this happened… I got a tattoo.
Which is, “De profundis clamo ad te Domine”… which means, “Out of the depths, I cry out to God.” And you say, and? And I say, which comes from Psalm 130:1. Here is a little bit of the context from that verse.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.”
At which point, I have to think back and sort of quantify, or qualify the change of heart. And I think the reason I had always hated the Psalms is because it sounded like someone was always just coming unglued about something. Or was overreacting continuously maybe.
As I read the Psalms now though, David (and all the other writers) seems way more like me than any other author in the Bible. (Him maybe and Peter possibly as well.. because he was always sticking his foot in his mouth.) David was legit. And I can relate to other legit people. Right? Interacting with real people is easy. Poser people are very very difficult to deal with. So as time went by I started to realize just how desperate I was for a savior and desperate for someone to step into my life and save me from myself. And there are just so many verses where this emotion and invocation occur over and over again. Here are just a few I pulled out off the top of my head:
Psalm 18:6 – “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
Psalm 61:2 – “From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Psalm 77:1 “I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.”
Psalms was mainly written by King David. He wrote 80 of the 150 Psalms written. But it was also written by lesser known authors as well, including, Moses, Heman the Ezrahite, Ethan the Ezrahite, Solomon, Asaph, and the sons of Korah. Several of the Psalms do not come with any credit. But all of the Psalms generally were poems, prayers and songs. Which give them a feel unlike any other book of the Bible.
Which may have had a lot to do with my not really connecting with the book at first. The specific Psalms are difficult to place with specific times and events. But most are obviously connected with distinct back stories and larger events. But as we don’t have many of these connecting thoughts they are left to stand as they are. Which use to be important to me, and therefore, used to bother the heck out of me when I read the book. But I noticed this time, that I was able to just and marinate in the poems and the songs. To soak in the concepts and the ideas of these men who were actively attempting to draw closer to God.
And that is where the change came in for me. In my own personal life I’ve realized that this world screams reasons for existing and being. One ad may tell me that the reason that I exist is to have a break today… because I deserve it. And another sign might tell me that I’m there for the sole purpose of purchasing this new video game. But I now know that my only reason for existing, my only purpose is to draw closer to God. And these writers understood that. In their failings they got that. And in their triumphs they got that. They understood their need for him in famine and in feast. So, with that understanding, the Psalms should be a book that appeals to me deeply. Not only that, I should script my own Psalms regularly. Right? I should be crying out my own songs to God on a daily basis. Whether I write them down or not. Because that is what the purpose and the ideal cadence of life really is. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to try my own hand at it by writing Psalm 151.
From ever lasting to ever lasting
Lord God, you are there.
Supernova and blackholes
declare that you are good.
The constants of gravity and physics
proclaim your outstretched arm.
Before Hubble saw it,
you were there.
When our science doubted,
you already understood it.
Creator and God,
painter of atoms and fireworks of light,
you forged worlds and fashioned suns
all within your perfectly vast workshop.
Because of you,
all things hold together.
The world is pure chaos,
without your loving control.
In unknown worlds
where our minds have not reached
there are perfect beauties
of form and wonder<
we will never know.
We marvel at the enormity of your hands
We tremble at the vastness of your works.
And because you are good.
I praise you.
Because you are good.
I will ever praise you.