We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds. - Psalm 75:1 (NIV)
Today I thought we might do something a little different. Some days, it's difficult to feel that God is near. Some seasons, it's difficult to find words to speak about God's deeds, because His actions don't seem all that great.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Psalms is that they were sung and read in community. People walked through difficult prayers together and uplifted praise together. Arm in arm, they pushed forward and reached up and journeyed through life with God on their lips.
I wish we did a little more of that in our world today.
So I wonder about doing that in response to today's Psalm. I wonder about sharing our stories with one another. The little and big ways we see God's deeds today. The times in which we have felt Him come near.
If you are a reader, but not normally a commenter in this space, would you consider leaving a note today? Would you share a bit of yourself with me and with us? Would you tell us why you could find words of praise on your lips today? And if you are normally a commenter, would you share the same thing?
Whether your comment is small or grandiose, eloquent or simple, it doesn't matter. The point is not to impress one another. The point is to help each other.
Maybe we can loan each other our eyes if only for a few moments, to see how God is good and active and pouring His grace out upon the world.
Let's tell of His deeds. Let's talk of His mighty works. Let's give each other examples of His nearness.
That was my reflection on Psalm 75. Please link up with your reflection below. And don't forget to leave a comment here! Then join us next week for a reflection on Psalm 76.
The only one feeling insecure. The only one wanting to hide in a corner. The only one with flashbacks of being a nerd in high school.
The voices begin.... That person won't want to talk to me. Wow, that person is so much cuter than I am. I won't have anything to talk about with that person. I wish I could be like that person.
Insecurities fly. And I am lonely among the faces of the crowd.
Until I pursue. And realize that I am not the only one. That most people are hiding and scared and waiting for someone else to talk first.
The relationships are there. If I only have the courage to say hello.
This post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: LONELY.
I want to start the next leg of the journey by moving towards some longings I have had for quite awhile.
I long to create a space that invites more people to engage with the Bible. To get past fears of interpreting wrong or not being scholarly enough, and begin to read, pray, and connect with its words.
I long to create a space that invites more people from a variety of backgrounds to read the same biblical text at the same time. To put aside our differences for a moment and find unity in our respect for God’s Word.
I long to create a space that invites more people to listen to each other and learn from each others' perspective on a text. To see that words that felt dead to us felt alive to someone else. To see how we were viewing the text through our own lens in ways we might not have even realized.
The Psalms provide a perfect backdrop for this kind of space. Though their meaning can certainly be enhanced through language knowledge and historical context, they are also poems and prayers. I believe that opens them up for a different reflection and response.
So, I am forming a Psalms Journey community. Beginning next week, with Psalm 51. And this is your invitation to join.
If you are a reader, I invite you to join this community by reading the same Psalm as us each week.
Sometimes it will be inspirational, and sometimes it will be frustrating. But I believe that God works in our wrestling. I’d also like to invite you to read not only the words on my site, but the words written by other bloggers in the community.
This is a big commitment, so I welcome you to come in and out of the series based on your availability. However, I also want to challenge you to try to stick with it. I have experienced so much depth in my own spiritual life based on the weekly discipline of this series, and I think that could happen for you as well.
I also invite you to guest post on the Psalms. So if a Psalm coming up has been particularly meaningful to you, please send a post my way! (email: everydayawe at gmail dot com)
(A few blogging details to know: 1. My post will go up midnight on Tuesday mornings. 2. The link up will be open all day Tuesday. 3. You can use the Twitter hashtag #PsalmsJourney 4. If you link up, please read the post of at least one other who links.)
It can be intimidating to think about how to write about the Bible. So, I’d like to give you a few practical ideas for types of posts you could write.
You could write a kind of public journal in response to a slow, meditative reading of the text, in the style of Lectio Divina.
Ingest the psalm by reading it several times. Reflect on the words and phrases. What sticks out to you? Why? Spend time in silence, yielded to the presence of God. Offer your insight back to God in prayerful and meditative writing.
You could write a reaction to how the Psalm made you feel. Some psalms are quite difficult or frustrating or confusing. Others are quite beautiful or artistic or despairing.
Read the Psalm and think about how it makes you feel about God or the Bible or life. Does it make you want to throw the Bible out your window? Does it make you drop to your knees in worship? Does it speak words into pain from your past? Dive into your feelings through the written word.
You could write an exegetical-style working out of the text through study.
Read the Psalm in a few different translations. Notice the differences in the wording. What might that tell you about the meaning? Which words and phrases are repeated and which are used only once? What does that tell you about the emphasis? If possible, look into the original language. Are there any poetic movements that don’t come across strongly in English?
Read more about the history and context of the Psalm. Do we know when in Israel’s history it was written? What might we need to be careful of when thinking about how a meaning during that time crosses over to today’s time and culture?
Write about what you learned and what you can pull from that study into your life.
You could write your own poem to God, inspired by the Psalm.
After reading the Psalm several times, use it as a launching point for your own prayer. Give yourself permission to express your feelings to God with raw and deep honesty. Paraphrase the Psalm with your own words or write something entirely new, spurred on by its themes.
The idea is that all posts are welcome. This is not about reaching some sort of standard. Or having the “correct” perspective on the biblical text.
This is about joining together as a community to rise up and declare the value and beauty and frustration and power of God’s Word.
So, what do you say? Want to join? Have questions? Let’s chat in the comments.
See you next week with Psalm 51. (And then, the week after with Psalm 52, then the week after that with Psalm 53…)
A Few Recommended Resources:
- NET Bible: This site has tons of notes on language and translation, as well as free commentary notes by Dr. Constable.
- Bible Gateway: This site has many translations available for comparison.
- ESV Study Bible: This Bible is filled with historical background and other notes that aid in interpretation. It is a fantastic resource.
- Lectio Divina: This article gives a good overview of the ancient contemplative practice.
- Soul Feast: This book provides an overview of contemplative spiritual practices with invitations to engage.
For An Overview of Psalms
- Nancy Orterg’s Sermon: This video of a sermon gives a great birds-eye view of what is going on in the book of Psalms. It is especially helpful when it comes to Psalms of lament.