Psalms, the Songs of Christ
It was a joy to worship together this past Sunday. I constantly give our good Father thanks for your singing. I love our tradition of traveling through the Psalter during the summer. I hope it plays a small role in creating a rhythm in your reading life of spending deliberate and meditative time in “The Prayers of the Christ and the Songs of the Saved.” This is how Dr. Jason DeRouchie categorizes the Psalter whom Pastor Dave referenced in his sermon. I distinctly remember sitting in one of his classes, wondering why I didn’t read the Psalms as he read them. A fresh realization dawned on me when I saw that the main reason was an individualist and out-of-order reading strategy to the Psalms. What I mean by that is every time I opened a Psalm, I automatically associated the Psalm with me, first and foremost. There is a way to read Scripture soaked in our day's individualism. Indeed, the Psalms are for me, but they were written to a people. What does it do to my understanding of Psalm 23 to realize that not only is the Lord my Shepherd but that he is also my brother’s and sister’s shepherd who I go to church with every week? The Lord is our Shepherd. My individualist reading of the Psalms also highlighted that I was reading out of order. Here is another DeRouchie quote from his beneficial book How To Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology —
"The book of Psalms contains some of the most familiar and well-loved parts of the Bible…Jesus loved the Psalter and often used it to defend his messiahship or to give voice to his pain…the apostles and New Testament authors, too, read the Psalms as supplying the laments, thanksgivings, and praises first of the Christ and then of all, finding refuge in him (Ps. 2:12)… the writers of the New Testament are not attempting to identify and limit the psalms that prefigure Christ but rather are assuming that the Psalter as a whole has Jesus Christ in view and that this should be the normative way of interpreting the psalms. A Christian approach to the Psalms demands that we read the whole as messianic music, whether as songs by Christ or about Christ. And insofar as we identify ourselves with this Anointed One, his prayers become our prayers and his music our music.”
What I mean by that I read the Psalms out of order was that I didn’t have a category that they are Songs of the Christ FIRST, and then they belong to those who take refuge in him. This order is massively essential. Take Psalm 23, for example. Spend some time meditating over the beautiful words of this well-beloved Psalm first coming out of the mouth of Jesus. Walk with him on the roads he traveled in the four gospels and envision him saying, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Since it is true for him, it is guaranteed to be true for all who take refuge in him! That strengthens the claims of Psalm 23 even more for your soul. The Lord is your Shepherd because He is your Christ’s shepherd!
I remember being stunned by this “new” way of reading the Psalter (Apparently, it is not that new!) I thought to myself, “What should I do with this?” You might be thinking something similar. What do you do when confronted with a different approach to the Scriptures that you aren’t accustomed to? I encourage you to try it on for size. Look to read the Psalms in the proper order — first, in the mouth of Christ and then in the mouths of those who are his. Talk about it with your brothers and sisters. Ask questions and ponder with one another. Pray that our good Father would give us understanding in these things!
Much love for you, Jubilee,