What benefit can you gain from reading and studying the Psalms? Here are five direct benefits as I see them:
- The Psalms model prayer–prayer as it should be. The Psalms are the “Prayer Book” of the Bible.
- The Psalms model praise and worship for us. How are we to worship God? The Psalms provide the pattern. Down through the ages, they have inspired thousands of songwriters. The Psalms are the “Hymn Book” of the Bible.
- The Psalms are prophetic. With uncanny accuracy they point to the advent, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Psalms trumpet the authority and authenticity of God’s Word.
- The Psalms hold up a mirror to our souls. They reflect the trials and triumphs of the human condition. The Psalms are about life–life lived with our Creator.
- The Psalms are relational. They model how we are to live with God and others. They are intended as two-way communication at the deepest level. The Psalms connect us with God.
Reading: Psalm 107
Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron (NIV).*
Darkness comes in various forms. Darkness is of course an absence of natural or artificial light. A certain amount of darkness can in fact, be very pleasant. Have you ever tried to sleep in a brightly lit room? On a recent trip I was driving through the wilderness of northern Ontario with a full moon—a super moon beaming down. On such occasions you appreciate the soothing benefits of darkness.
But spiritual darkness is another matter. In today’s vignette or snapshot from Psalm 107, we see a picture of prisoners sitting in utter darkness and subjected to bitter labor. This darkness, however, is self-inflicted, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.
There’s a lot of self-inflicted darkness and suffering in the world. One could argue that since the time of Adam and Eve, all suffering and spiritual darkness is in some respects self-inflicted. In our blindness and self-generated wisdom, we harm ourselves, rather than calling out to the LORD.
Have you harmed yourself by walking down a dark path? Have you despised the plans of the Most High? I have. In my foolish rebellion, I thought my plans were better than God’s plans, but God’s ways are higher than my ways, and He knows the best way because He lights the way.
Sometimes we insist on generating our own light—artificial light. The religions and philosophies of this world are artificial light. We will see that they are pale imitations on that day when the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays (Malachi 4:2). Nothing and no one shines like Jesus. John testifies to this truth. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).
Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:5).
Response: Father God, today I want to walk in your light. Thanks for the light of salvation that we receive in Christ our Savior. Please show me your way forward. You brighten my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been guilty of generating your own light rather than calling out to the LORD? How do you walk in the true light?