The Bible is a collection of writings in different literary genres. There are narratives and large swaths of legal code. There are personal letters and even a literary genre called apocalyptic literature, something we don’t use and would be somewhat akin to science fiction meets abstract art. There’s also poetry.
Now, a confession–I haven’t been a huge fan of poetry, and that extended to the poetry in the Scriptures, in particular, the Psalms.
A few years ago, I attended a class on the Bible and our instructor asked how the Psalms had impacted our lives. After listening to a few of my classmates share the profound impact of the poetry of the Psalms that had on them, I raised my hand to share my lack of appreciation of the Psalms. I still remember the incredulous looks and shock on the faces of my classmates as I described the Psalms as my least favorite book of the Bible.
That was a few years ago, thankfully. Since then I’ve grown to appreciate and even love the Psalms. The imagery, the rhythm, the emotion of the Psalms have been formative in my life. I have come to appreciate reading through the Psalms and allowing them to draw me into the interaction of human emotions and the reality of who God is.
Even when my momentary emotions run counter to the emotions or experiences of the psalmist. To read a lament Psalm, even when I feel joy in my heart or to read a psalm of praise when I’m grieving, draws me into truth just as much as when the Psalms seem to almost perfectly line up with my momentary experience.
“The imagery, the rhythm, the emotion of the Psalms have been formative in my life.”
To help you today, I want you to slowly read through Psalm 23. It’ll be helpful to be in a quiet place that’s distraction free. Psalm 23 is full of vivid imagery about Yahweh’s care for his people. Perhaps this will resonate with your current life situation or mood in a really direct way. Or perhaps it will run counter. In either case, the Psalms is drawing us into a true experience of who God is, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Read a line of text aloud and then sit in silence for a moment. In the time of silence allow the imagery of the song to capture your imagination. What does the particular imagery bring to mind? How does it intersect with your life or experience with God? What does it mean for you in this moment of your life right now? Invite God’s Spirit to speak to you through Psalm 23.
Psalm 23: A song of David
Yahweh is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
He takes me to lush pastures. He leads me to refreshing water. He restores my strength. He leads me down the right path for the sake of his reputation.
Even when I must walk through the darkest Valley, I fear no danger for you are with me.
Your rod and staff reassure me.
You prepare a royal banquet before me in plain sight of my adversaries.
You refresh my head with oil, my cup is completely full.
Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all of my days. And I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life.
What is God telling you? End this time by reflecting with God on the thoughts and feelings that surface. Express gratitude for God’s presence in your life and for speaking to you.
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