The book of psalms is a unique book in the Bible. It is the prayerbook of the Bible and was also the prayerbook for the Jewish people, including Jesus. There are many references to the psalms in the New Testament. Jesus also quotes the psalms, most notably his cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” [Matthew 27:46] This is taken directly from Psalm 22 and that psalm also includes a reference to casting lots for clothing. This psalm is closely associated with Jesus’ suffering on the cross and is often read during the Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services.
However, beyond these New Testament references, the psalms can also be significant prayers for us. The psalms are many and varied and offer us words for the different situations of life. There are laments and prayers for times of difficulty, in some cases providing comfort and at other times giving us words to cry out to God in our pain. These psalms may also make us more empathetic toward others as we read these words from the heart of the psalmist.
There are also many psalms of praise, psalms that sing out to God. The words of Psalm 100 can hardly be spoken without breaking into song.
In many ways the psalms can speak to us - words of joy, comfort, and the assurance of God’s presence. But the psalms can also speak for us. When we don’t have the words to speak ourselves, the psalms can provide those words. They give us permission to cry to God, and yes, to express our anger at God. No matter what we are feeling, God is big enough to hear these words.
Throughout the psalms, even in the most sorrowful and angry psalms, there is never a suggestion that God does not exist. Even in the worst situation, when it seems that God is silent, the psalmist still knows that God is there.
May this prayerbook that we have been given also provide you with words that both speak to you and for you.
As I have said before, I enjoy photography and recently I have begun combining some photographs with the words of the psalms. The psalms are poetry and can speak to us in ways that touch the heart more than the mind, not unlike images. I have attached a few of these photographs below in hopes that these words and images may speak to your heart.
For more photographs with scripture, you can check out the Visio Divina collection on the Commonword website: https://www.commonword.ca/Browse/9540