Tag Archives: Psalms

Psalms (Jul 2020-Apr 2021)

Each photo below corresponds to a chapter-a-day post for the book of Psalms published by Tom Vander Well beginning in July 2020. Posts will be added as they are published. Click on the photo linked to each chapter to read the post. Chapter and title are found in the caption of each photo.

Psalm 1: In the Flow of Life

Psalm 2: Refuge in Royally Troubled Times

Psalm 3: Been There, Done That

Psalm 4: David’s “Seven Steps”

Psalm 5: Of Layers and Flow

Psalm 6: “Get it Out, Little Dude”

Psalm 7: The “Why Me?” Blues

Psalm 8: The Honor of Creation

Psalm 9: Running to the Same Stronghold

Psalm 10: The Perplexing Mystery

Psalm 11: Faith or Flight

Psalm 12: Much Needed Affirmation

Psalm 13: The “How Long” Blues

Psalm 14: People-Eaters

Psalm 15: Cutting the Mustard

Psalm 16: “I’ve Got Your Back”

Psalm 17: Just Appeal

Psalm 18: Praise-to-Plea Ratio

Psalm 19: A Good First Step

Psalm 20: Fight! Fight! Fight!

Psalm 21: Oracle

Psalm 22: Prophecy & Professor Trelawney

Psalm 23: The Predicate

Psalm 24: Of Rules and Appetites

Psalm 25: The Disorder Blues

Psalm 26: “If I Really Believe What I Say I Believe…”

Psalm 27: The Feed

Psalm 28: Patterns

Psalm 29: Of Storms and Shelter

Psalm 30: Hope and the Pit

Psalm 31: My Times

Psalm 32: Spiritual Pivot-Point

Psalm 33: Sui Generis

Psalm 34: The Story Behind the Song

Psalm 35: Guernica

Psalm 36: Captive Brain

Psalm 37: The Simple, Complex Mystery

Psalm 38: The “Woe-is-Me” Blues

Psalm 39: “SIT ON IT”
Psalm 40: Eye Opening

Psalm 41: Betrayal

Psalm 42: Of Corruption and Cravings

Psalm 43: Chain Reaction of Praise

Psalm 44: The “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” Blues

Psalm 45: Love Song

Psalm 46: Refuge Within

Psalm 47: King of the Mountain

Psalm 48: Thin Places

Psalm 49: Wisdom and Winnowing

Psalm 50: The Religion Game

Psalm 51: A Psalm 51 Moment

Psalm 52: The Impotence to Respond

Psalm 53: Same Song, Only Different

Psalm 54: Prayer of Desperation

Psalm 55: Lament (and Parenting)

Psalm 56: Fear Response

Psalm 57: Highest Authority

Psalm 58: Getting it Out

Psalm 59: Surrounded and Slandered

Psalm 60: The “Bitter Defeat Blues”

Psalm 61: Postcard Promises

Psalm 62: The Mystery of the Missing Word

Psalm 63: The Nightwatch

Psalm 64: Unraveling

Psalm 65: Muted by 2020

Psalm 66: That Story is My Story

Psalm 67: Voices on the Whispering Wind

Psalm 68: Journey

Psalm 69: One Song, Two Stories

Psalm 70: “HELP!”

Psalm 71: Unseen Choices

Psalm 72: The Day the Music Died

Psalm 73: Envy: The “Pretty” Sin

Psalm 74: Child-like Feelings, Child-like Faith

Psalm 75: Beginning the End of a Shaky Year

Psalm 76: “It’s a Miracle!” (or Not)

Psalm 77: The One Thing I Always Fail to See

Psalm 78: Epic Wisdom

Psalm 79: Devastation, Dinosaurs, and Spiritual Development

Psalm 80: Meaning in the Metaphor

Psalm 81: The Mystery of the Voice

Psalm 82: Questions of Justice

Psalm 83: Fight Song

Psalm 84: My Heart’s Highway

Psalm 85: Stop, and Listen

Psalm 86: “Consider it Joy” (Again)

Psalm 87: “Centering Down”

Psalm 88: Dark Places

Psalm 89: Rug Pulling Moments

Psalm 90: My First Lesson in Time Management

Psalm 91: An Autopsy of My Fears

Psalm 92: Rest Sans Rule Keeping

Psalm 93: Faith in the Fire

Psalm 94: “Just the Way it Works”

Psalm 95: A Rocky Start

Psalm 96: New

Psalm 97: Macro and Micro

Psalm 98: Connected

Psalm 99: That’s Qadosh

Psalm 100: A Time to Shout!

Psalm 101: More Than Words

Psalm 102: “God is Grape”

Psalm 103: My Inmost Being

Psalm 104: Creation Contemplation

Psalm 105: Tribal Stories and Ballads

Psalm 106: Holy Moments in the Dark

Psalm 107: Exilic Reflections

Psalm 108: Of Change and Health

Psalm 109: Betrayed

Psalm 110: Geeking Out on the Great Story

Psalm 111: Simple Songs of a Child

Psalm 112: The Person I Want to Be

Psalm 113: Life is a Psalm

Psalm 114: Division

Psalm 115: Dominion

Psalm 116: Brooding

Psalm 117: Of Voices & Family

Psalm 118: Music, Ritual, and Meaning

Psalm 119: The Tension

Psalm 120: Songs with Purpose

Psalm 121: Songs of Assurance

Psalm 122: Human Systems

Psalm 123: Songs for Different Seasons

Psalm 124: Of Traditions

Psalm 125: Lessons in the Landscape

Psalm 126: Of Rubble and Restoration

Psalm 127: Gift, Not Reward
Psalm 128: “L’chaim!”

Psalm 129: Every Tribe and Tongue

Psalm 130: Cancelled! (Not)

Psalm 131: Finding Contentment

Psalm 132: Things I Don’t Control

Psalm 133: Body

Psalm 134: Call and Response

Psalm 135: Weekend Treasure

Psalm 136: The Song and the Story

Psalm 137: Old Wounds Die Hard

Psalm 138: One Song, Two Levels

Psalm 139: Judicial Realizations

Psalm 140: Ruminating

Psalm 141: About Knowing

Psalm 142: Prison Blues

Psalm 143: Good Morning
Psalm 144: A Tale of Two Kings

Psalm 145: “King of My Castle”

Psalm 146: Holy Moment

Psalm 147: Exile and Return

Psalm 148: Strength in Praise

Psalm 149: Bookends of Praise

Psalm 150: Just Breathe

A Beginner’s Guide to the Great Story (Part 6)

[WW] A Beginner's Guide to the Great Story (Part 6) Wayfarer

In this episode, we’re going to talk about metaphor and the books of poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs). From “Why do bad things happen to good people?” to a healthy expression of the God-given expression of sexuality, this episode is an entry-level introduction to ancient Hebrew poetry and how it continues to resonate with us today.

Previous episodes in this series:

Part 1: Mystery, Context, & Metaphor
Part 2: Decoding & Diving In
Part 3: Meta-Themes of the Great Story
Part 4: Books of Law
Part 5: Books of History
Part 6: Books of Poetry

Faith and Praise: David’s Personal Relationship With God

David bearing the ark of testament into Jerusalem
David bearing the ark of testament into Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets. 1 Chronicles 13:8 (NIV)

For the better part of this year, we’ve been journeying through the story of David and before that the psalms which are ancient song lyrics attributed largely to David. In a bit of synchronicity, the group of believers with whom Wendy and I worship on Sunday mornings are starting a series of messages on the life of David next week. It flows out of a five week series in which we’ve been looking at the “chain reaction of praise,” and I’ve been asked to give the lead off message of the series.

The connection between the two series is the fact that, no matter the circumstances, David was a man of praise and faith. David the hero, David the warrior, David the outlaw, David the sinner, David the King, David the victim — no matter which part of David’s life you study you find him seeking God, praising God, crying to God, and consulting God. You can almost always find a psalm that corresponds to a particular episode in David’s life. Throughout his long journey David was always translating his daily life experiences into songs, poems, and prayers of faith and praise.

I thought about that as I read this morning of David the King who was not embarrassed nor ashamed to worship and dance “with all his might” before God and the ark of the covenant. He was not concerned with what it might look like to others. He was not worried about looking cool, kingly, and above it all. He was not one to order others to do his praising for him. For David, his relationship with God was not just “a part of the job.” David’s relationship with God was personal from the time he was a boy until he was uttering his last words on his death bed.

Today, I’m thinking about my own life and David’s example. I don’t want my faith and praise to be a compartment of my life which I take out on Sunday morning and sundry, appropriate occasions. I don’t want my faith to fit neatly into others sense of propriety. I want my praise to be with “all my might” and my relationship to be intensely personal each and every day of my life.

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The Art of Manliness

David and Saul
David and Saul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did.
1 Samuel 18:10 (NLT)

Manliness is most often associated in our culture with strength, grit, and accomplishment on the field of battle, athletics, or business. King David was, no doubt, a man’s man for his military prowess and leadership. When an entire nation is singing the praises of the tens of thousands of enemy you’ve slain, you’ve got to feel the testosterone surge. I’m just saying. When it comes to masculinity, David was a stud.

But the thing I personally love about David is that there was a balance to his masculinity. Not only could the guy wield sling and sword, fight lions and bears, kill giants and lead successful military campaigns, but he was also a poet, songwriter, and musician. Most of the lyrics we read in the book of Psalms were penned by David. He could express himself and his emotions in beautiful and creative ways. He could play harp and lyre with such beauty that it drove away the darkness and lifted the spirits of those who listened.

Masculinity is much more than the stereotypical muscles, mechanics, and athletic ability. Being a man is equally about walking in the ways of the Creator who expresses His person and character metaphorically in all manner of beautiful acts of creation. There is a balance which we see embodied in David who was both warrior and poet, creator and defender, and man after God’s own heart.


Chapter-a-Day Psalm 1

Blessed is the man 
    who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked 
or stand in the way of sinners 
    or sit in the seat of mockers. 
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, 
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
    Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

If you’ve ever had a bout of insomnia (I have occasional stretches myself), you’ve likely found yourself watching television in the wee hours when you’ll find infomercials for various multi-disc musical compilations such as “Soft Rock of the 70s.”

Our journey into the Psalms might well begin like a cheesy early morning infomercial complete with perky and beautiful middle-aged couple or elderly has-been musicians who are uber-excited about the hits of ancient Hebrew worship. That’s because you can consider Psalms as a book of lyrics to a giant musical compilation. These were the greatest worship hits of ancient Israel. The cool thing is, not only did the producers put together this compilation book of lyrics (c. 300 B.C.), they took great pains to arrange the song lyrics in very specific order so that that entire collection is a work of instructional art in and of itself. The compilation is a single work of art made up of 150 works of lyrical/poetic art.

The first two songs (Psalms 1 and 2) were chosen as introduction to the entire book. They have no title, but act as a lyric overture to the entire compilation. Take notice of the bookends. The first line of Psalm 1 and the last line of Psalm 2 start with “Blessed is….” The message being that those who journey through this compilation, those who delight in God’s Message (Psalm 1:1-2) and take refuge God (Psalm 2:12) will be blessed.

Today, I’m excited about creativity. I’m grateful that Creator God inspires musicians, poets and writers. I’m knocked out by the artistic detail of those who compiled the Psalms and creatively assembled this volume in such a way that it added layers of depth and meaning to the compilation itself, extending the metaphorical value of the individual songs themselves.

The deeper I journey into God’s Message, the more layers of meaning I peel away, the more I’m blown away at how limitless it is.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 20

"Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Je...
Image via Wikipedia

But if I say, “Forget it!
   No more God-Messages from me!”
The words are fire in my belly,
   a burning in my bones.
I’m worn out trying to hold it in.
   I can’t do it any longer! Jeremiah 20:9 (MSG)

Along the journey, we all reach places that feel like a dead end. Frustrated, exasperated, and at the end of our patience we feel like a ticking time bomb of emotions.

Jeremiah stands as a testament for all of us. Today’s chapter reminds us that we all hit a breaking point, and when we do it is perfectly acceptable to pour out our hearts to God. He is not surprised by our emotion. He is not deaf to our cries. God is big enough to handle the full onslaught of our anger, our frustration, our screams, and our tears.

Along the way, we will all need a healthy release of our our pent  up emotions. Like Jeremiah, like David in the Psalms, like Jesus in Gethsemane, we sometimes need to plead our case and get out what’s bugging us. If we don’t, then it’s all going to spill out anyway. We can’t contain it. It just squirts out in unhealthy ways.

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