Whenever someone tells me they are going to read through the Bible in a year, I have mixed feelings. I’m excited that they want to read through the Bible and I always want to encourage the reading of Scripture. I also struggle, though, because I know that many people get stalled at certain places in this quest. Some stop at the Levitical law. Others get stuck at the counting or genealogies of Numbers. Still others get stuck in books like Psalms, because the writing style is so different from many of the other books. David, the king of Israel, wrote many of the Psalms. We know this because the introductions tell us.
A psalm of David. (Psalms 15-17,23-29,32,35,37,101,103,108,110,138,141,143-4)
We also know that David wrote the Psalms with a certain style in mind: Hebrew Poetry. Often times we can’t tell the poetic style because it is only evident in the original Hebrew. Rhyme, meter, or specific structure to the writing, like starting each section following the letters of the alphabet, don’t translate into our language very easily. So, we read it an it feels “glunky” and we don’t know why.
For the choir director...to be accompanied by… (Psalms 4-6,8-9,11-14,19-22,31,36,39-41,55,61-2,64-5,68-9,109,139-40)
We also know that many, if not all, of the Psalms are intended to be experience with music. Some of them have instructions for the “choir director,” so the lyrics can be sung. Others tell us what tune it should be sung to or what music should be playing in the background. Sometimes they even tell us the type of instruments that should be playing in the background. Psalms were intended to be heard, sung, and experienced more than just read.
How about you? When you reflect on God and your life, do you think in poetry? Do you start thinking of music? Do you sing, play an instrument, or otherwise experience closeness with God through poetry or music?