The Psalms were not written for ‘post it’ stickers to place on our refrigerator door or bathroom mirror to jump start our day. In fact, neither existed when David, Asaph and others penned them. They were written by men in tears, terror, fear and loneliness. Some in the midst of victory and praise.
However, one thing is certain: most Psalms were written in the white hot furnace of affliction as men sought to understand God’s dealings with them. David and others poured out their hearts in honest contemplation and prayer, seeking not an understanding from man, but an audience with God! They were not attempting to wax eloquent and impress the readers. Instead, they lifted the innermost parts of their soul to the only one who could help them.
We face a danger when we read the Psalms. That danger is our temptation to remove the words from the dusty caves and lonely rooms of a broken heart. We bring them to our kitchen table, where we have want for little, and apply their blood soaked words to our comfortable lives. With our microwave-warmed croissants and instant coffee we read these tear-torn pages of torment under the soft light of our life. We fail to dive into the troubled waters from which they speak.
“Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.” ~ C. H. Spurgeon
We must be careful not to knock the rough edges from the Psalms. Let them speak with clarity to the cry of our heart and let us refuse to ‘religious-ize’ their words. They are dirty, sorrowful, and challenging…but they are honest! They give us the path our hearts trod upon when we find ourselves feeling abandoned by God and wondering why. They evoke the anger and fear we find when family and friends turn from helping us, and our enemies seem to prevail. In David we find a friend who understands our struggles and gives words to our own anguish. He knows the voice of the caves.
Yes, there are plenty of rough edges in the Psalms. Let us not smooth them off with our polished form of ‘church-ianity.’ Take it all…the highs and the lows; the pain and the joy; the tears and the terror. They offer God’s psychology book into the truthfulness and openness of genuine faith. They are not for the religiously polished; they do not fit into their comfortable lives. They are for those, like David, seeking God with their whole heart.
They are for you and me…