In a recent chat with one of my friends, Scott Groom (one of the authors of the song “Crowns” on the Let There be Light Hillsong album), we discussed how the Psalms provide the soundtrack to accompany the highs and lows of the Christian journey. The Bible refers to Christians as living epistles, or letters (2 Cor 3:2-3). In fact, we are the letter, and the message we bear testifies to Christ. But similarly, what if we saw our own lives and their ups and downs as a psalm? As in, what if we were a song that was being sung to the glory of God?
Suppose we become lost—how can we find ourselves?
How much burden can we bear?
Overwhelmed we cry out, but who hears us?
Unfailing God fills our mouth with prayers for
the battle, and a voice to love.
Through the Psalms.
Faithfully songs call us out of the murky valleys to ascend in trust.
Of course, we might refuse to sing to the LORD.
Relentless are the heart-cries of King David; and the prayers of Asaph pursue our souls.
Just lurking beneath the surface, our spirits crave the honesty.
Our heroes’ lyrics rush to our core like magnets.
Yes, life has its lows.
A world now analyzes mental health in detail, prescribing suitable remedies precisely.
Little do we remember the Psalms spoke of this first.
Lovingly He preserves our lives in the midst of distress.
There are times that we immerse ourselves to suffer the LORD’s silence.
He is intriguing us; testing us; training us.
Each wordless moment grows in us an appreciation of a volume of reply.
Equally, some days we pray one letter at a time.
As if by design, suddenly glimmers of breakthrough erupt!—strength to rise up and praise.
Rising war chants empower us to sing to our battle, “He will rock you”
Through the ancient passages; but when we cycle back to tiredness and fading courage,
He lays us down in green pastures, and leads us beside quiet waters, reminding us to rest.
We know the love songs that define our era, but the LORD sings His Endless Love.
Out of all humanity, who hasn’t been haunted by weakness and failings?
Reading His Psalms implores us to confess.
Such mistakes washed by compassionate and merciful oceans; wrongs meet righteous shores.
How is it that pilgrimage sometimes makes the Psalms seasonally foundational; and at other times, the foundation of every season?
In both, the LORD’s composure remains.
Psalms have no conclusion; they continue to resonate.
The young find them to be fire; the old treasure their timelessness.
How do you carry the weight of the world?
Even cut the rope from your neck?
Lift your desires from the floor of the sea?
Only 150 strikes of the chisel, and we remember our Davidic likeness.
Remember the LORD’s heart through sorrows.
Don’t forget the LORD’s strength through battles.
When we sing the Psalms, we hear accents of praise.
In our acceptance of life’s troubles, we evade our complacency within them.
This is the prize we’ve set out to win.
However, our hearts don’t know it initially.
Ghosts glow in the doorways calling us to self-pity and apathy, vanishing in the face of faith.
Let Psalms beckon us to our next summit and remind us where our help comes from.
As Psalms give us wings, we soar above valleys with eagle eyes.
Desperation transforms into victory as we’re intimate with the LORD Himself.
Naturally the epistles approve of our dogma.
Every Psalm however, breaks into the dungeon, hugs us, and shepherds us back to His courts.
Singing the Psalms mentors us through the parallels: high & low; light & dark; doubt & trust; death & life.
So even if only on our death-beds the songs make complete sense, we still get to step into the freedom of knowing that…
His goodness and love followed us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in His house forever.
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Tanya Riches is Senior Lecturer and MTh Coordinator at Hillsong College, Sydney. She has published a range of articles in the area of liturgy and congregational song following her MPhil dissertation on Hillsong United undertaken in 2010 in the Music department at the Australian Catholic University.