Why Psalms Is Such a Great Book
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High. Psalms 92:1, KJV
You can afford to be ignorant of many things—you can hire an attorney to handle your legal stuff, an accountant to do your books, and a doctor to keep you healthy—but the individual who is ignorant of the Bible has an ignorance he can ill afford.
The Bible is an anthology, or a collection of writings, which were inspired by the Holy Spirit over a period of 1600 years. Yet even within the Bible there are books which are distinctive and stand alone, towering above the great literary works of all time. Such are the 150 chapters known as the book of Psalms.
Actually, this one book is a collection of poems and writings which were used by both congregations and individuals. The Hebrew title of the book, Seper Tehellim, means “Book of Praises,” and the Greek title, Psalmoi or Psalterion denotes a song or poem that is to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.
In this collection are some of the most widely-loved and quoted passages in the entire Bible. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” wrote David in Psalm 23. When astronauts in the Apollo space program were winging their way back to planet Earth on Christmas eve, they quoted from Psalm 19 where David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).
If you had asked my grandmother, or my mother, or should you ask me, “What is your favorite chapter in the entire Bible?” you would receive the response, “Psalm 91.” Do you remember the words of the great psalm: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust'” (Psalm 91:1-2, NKJV).
Modern versions of the Bible are wonderful. New and contemporary language helps us better understand the truth of the Book. But nothing will ever surpass the magnificence of the old King James text of the Psalms. If you really want to discover the Psalms, my suggestion is to find an old King James and read it, along with a newer version.
Why has this one book had such an attraction for people down through the years? Surely it is because nothing in all of literature, including the writings of Mohammed and Buddha, as well as the ancient Greeks, can compare to the gamut of emotions—love, hate, deep feelings of intensity and compassion—that we find in the book of Psalms. Dick Iverson writes, “In the course of dealing with the adversities of life, people are often frustrated by not being able to express adequately their emotional pain or mental anguish. The Psalms release us from that frustration. With emotionally-drenched complaints, humble confessions, desperate pleas, penitent prayers, or screams of pain, the writers of the Psalms skillfully expose and express the yearnings of our deepest thoughts.”
There is a psalm to match your every mood, and it is this very thing that causes a problem for some people. Jesus, of course, taught us to love our enemies, but the writers of Psalms asked God to settle the score when they felt they had been wronged, which tells me that expressing our feelings to God in prayer is the first step towards healing and help—when our attitudes are wrong.
I view this book as a marvelous expression of praise, trust, worship, and rejoicing. A deep therapy of the heart that brings wholeness and healing is something we badly need today. When you discover this book, you’ll be glad you did.
Resource reading: Psalms 90:1-16