Sunday June 21 – Saturday June 27
What to look for in Psalms 29-42
A number of years ago, I read something about a Psalm that stopped me short. I was reading Just Church, a book by Jim Martin about his experiences helping to free slaves through the work of International Justice Mission. He wrote about a girl, enslaved in a brothel, who had written Psalm 27:1 above her bed: “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
That’s a wonderful verse that we quote a lot. But I had never thought of it through the lens of someone who had so much to legitimately fear; from someone who was marginalized and treated as a commodity. Can you imagine what that promise must have meant to her – both a desperate prayer and an acclamation of trust despite her present circumstances?
The Psalms give us the language of faith for the full spectrum of human experience. In Psalms 29-42, we see a myriad of emotions: mourning, dancing, anger, confession, submission, and trust to name some (but not all!). Fairly often, we read our own experiences and emotions within the Psalms, which is good. We also think about what the Psalms might have meant to David (who wrote most of the Psalms we cover this week) or whoever penned the original verses. That’s also good. But in addition to reading yourself into the Psalms and pondering the original context, consider how others might read the Psalms. Who alive today, in various contexts, might use these words to cry out to God? Who is brokenhearted? Who feels betrayed? This week, try to read Psalms 29-42 from another person’s perspective. As you do, let it lead you to pray for that person or people. And as you read through another’s eyes, ask the Lord to expand your heart – to help you see your neighbor and love your neighbor as yourself.
Also note that we wrap up Book 1 of the Psalms this week with Psalms 29-41. Books 1-4 all end with the same phrase: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (41:13). In Psalm 42, we begin Book 2 of the Psalms which has a different emphasis. We’ll cover the overview of Book 2 in our reading guide next week.
Questions to ask of Psalms 29-42
Did you find it easy or difficult to read the Psalms through the eyes of others? Who did you imagine? What was the experience like?
Were there any verses within one or more of the Psalms that are familiar to you; perhaps even a favorite? Take a closer look at that verse within the context of the whole Psalm. How does the context help you better understand the meaning and depth of that well-known verse?
How do these Psalms describe humans who live far from God? How do the Psalms describe humans who trust in God?
Does anything about these Psalms make you feel uncomfortable? Why?
Does anything about these Psalms increase your trust in God?
Lord, You are majestic. You are holy and clothed with glory and strength. You turn our mourning into dancing as you show us the wonders of Your love. You rescue those who are pressed down and pushed aside by sin and darkness. Help us to place our trust not in self-reliance, but in You. In Jesus name we pray, amen