April 27, 2017

Using the Psalms (Psalms part 6)

My pastor has a saying which goes something like this: “You can have a whole stack of Bibles at home, but they don’t do you any good if they’re never open.” His words ring true, no doubt about it. If you’re not reading your Bible, it serves as little more than a decoration in your home.

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But let’s take this concept a step further. Let’s assume that you are opening up your Bible and reading from it regularly. Are you just reading, or are you really trying to learn something?

I’m of the opinion that, while knowing information is a good thing, information which is not put into practice is essentially useless. It is important to connect the facts we learn to practical ways that they can be applied in our everyday lives. The key to successfully using Biblical knowledge lies in letting God shape us through His Word. That’s the only way it works. Too often, we try to wrap God and His words around our own desires, but we must always remember that He is the potter, and we are only the clay.

Perhaps the most obvious way to use the psalms, given that they appear in a book, is to read them. But as I stated before, simply reading is probably not enough. We must read with a purpose, and we must meditate on what we read in God’s Word. The book of Psalms actually opens by speaking directly to this topic.

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
~Psalm 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Now some people think “meditation” is some kind of complicated thing, but it’s not (Biblical meditation is nothing like eastern transcendentalism). Meditation, in the Biblical sense, simply means to think purposefully about what you read in the Bible. Go over it in your head. Use God’s gift of reason to understand what the scriptures say and discover ways to apply that knowledge directly to your own life.

Here are a few things you might want to be looking for in your reading and meditation:
  • Direction – what to do or how to conduct yourself, both in general and in specific situations unique to yourself
  • Caution – what not to do, as in “Thou shalt not…” but applied to the specific circumstances of your life
  • Encouragement – hang in there and look for God’s blessings and promises
  • What to expect from God – remember He is the Master, not a genie in a bottle
  • What God expects from you – and what He, in His mercy, will accept when we fall short

Some have referred to life as “the school of hard knocks.” Fortunately for us, God has given us an amazing textbook from which we can learn to dodge some of life’s heavy blows and to soften those which are unavoidable. Why not open your Bible and see what God wants to teach you today?

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