I love the Psalms.
They give teeth to my thoughts.
They let me know it’s okay to think what I’m thinking.
They give me the assurance that I am not the only one.
They give clarity to my emotions.
It’s no wonder the Psalms were designed to be the prayer and songbook for the people of God.
The Psalms let you know it’s okay and expected (encouraged!) to be raw.
The Psalms remind you that God is big enough to handle your complaints.
The Psalms help give shape to your unexplainable humanity.
The Psalms let you be you, while reminding you of who God is – directing you to Him and His ways.
Take Psalm 53.
Verse 5 says of evildoers, “But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.”
How true is this!?!?
Have you ever messed up and dreaded something (worst case scenario) for days that never came about? Have you ever been paralyzed by fear of what you’ve done, and plagued with what might happen? Have you ever dreaded the worst and put real faith in what never is promised or actually ever came about?
Sure you have. We all have.
Why is it that we put our faith in something we dread? Why can’t we have the same faith in what we are promised? Why can’t we trust in what we say we hope in? Why does something we dread seem so real while something that is promised seem like such a fantasy?
Again, the Psalms are helpful.
Consider verse 6: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”
The psalmist is putting his ultimate hope – better yet, reminding himself to put his ultimate hope – in what will come out of Zion (Jesus) and the restoration of God’s people.
Do you see what is happening? The psalmist is preaching at himself. He is exhorting himself. He is telling his soul the truth.
The reason what we dread feels so real is because we really do deserve it. We really do deserve what we dread most. We have sinned. We have committed evil. What we fear will come seems so real because of the real sin we’ve done. Salvation? Restoration? Rejoicing? Gladness? These things seem so foreign because we don’t deserve them. We don’t experience them much in this life. What seems so real is what we dread. What is real seems like a far away dreamland.
This is what makes the Psalms SO helpful. They give clarity to our thoughts. But they push us to what is real and true and good and right. They give us relief that we aren’t alone in what we are experiencing. Then they explode on our hearts where our real hope actually lies. They take us from where we are – in real life; then lead us to where we are to be as God’s people.
The Psalms let us know God is big enough to handle our real struggle and also loving enough to help us cling to the hope-filled truth.