Eric Watkins: Singing the Psalms with the Psalmist

In New Horizons, Rev. Eric Watkins writes in a compelling way of why the Psalms occupy such an important place in our response to God's Word:

We believe in a God whom we cannot actually see. We follow a voice that we do not audibly hear. We are held by a hand that we cannot physically feel. This is also the nature and emotion of the Psalms. They encompass virtually every aspect of our lives and emotions. They catalogue every expression of the soul in poetic form. They summarize our spiritual experiences, both highs and lows.

But if  [Edmund] Clowney is right, the Psalms do not simply capture and express the experiences of God’s people; they also draw us into the heart of Christ himself. They are his Psalms—not perfectly, for the Psalms contain confessions of sin that Jesus did not need to make for himself. Yet in so many ways they express the songs of the soul that Jesus would sing as he made his own pilgrimage through the dark valleys of this world to the highest peak of the hill of the Lord.

Martin Luther was right in calling the book of Psalms “the Bible in miniature form.” For not only is the story of the soul sung in the book of Psalms, but so also is the story of redemption sung there. The Psalms, like Genesis, begin with the hope of the blessed man who is to shun evil, keep God’s laws, and become like an everlasting tree that bears fruit unto God. The book of Psalms, like Revelation, ends in the jubilant sanctuary of God, where the voices of God’s redeemed people are heard in concert with a myriad of joyful sounds, all forming one voice of praise that rises before God’s throne. In the middle of the Psalms is the story of redemption, with the trials and suffering of the psalmist displaying for us not simply the story of David, or even typifying the story of Israel, but telling ahead of time the story of Jesus, whose lonely exile on the cross would redeem the sin-laden people of God."


Note: While we are interested in all aspects of Reformed and Presbyterian teaching on a wide variety of important subjects, we recognize that one of our practices that is uncommon to many is the practice of psalm singing. We hope that these posts will offer you food for thought ... even if it seems like we post quite frequently on one particular aspect of Christian life and the worship of our Triune God.