If only one thought clung to my mind and followed me home from the 2018 Sing! conference, it was this: The Psalms matter.
Of course, my brain is filled with far more information and enlightenment than that. But in three words, this accurately summarizes the bulk of what I learned. Because when it comes to worship and singing, why start anywhere else than the lyrics of God’s holy Word?
Why Sing the Psalms?
Pastor John MacArthur made a profound point that the songs we sing can only rise as high in worship as they can delve deep into theology. In other words, the elevation of our praise is in direct correlation to the depth of our lyrics.
The elevation of our praise is in direct correlation to the depth of our lyrics.
In an age of lukewarm and shallow worship music that fails to impart a further knowledge of who God is, the search for theologically rich songs seems hard.
Until we open our Bibles.
Flip to the center of God’s Word and we have an unrivaled hymnbook of worship. The Psalms are brimming with promises, testimonies, prayers, and commands aimed toward our emotions. Like no other poetic collection, they richly carry us into humble worship before God.
Which Psalms Do We Sing?
There are countless Psalms of praise that are beautiful to sing, but Pastor John Piper reminded us to sing the difficult ones too. These songs of struggle illustrate that the Psalmists didn’t live with an unclouded vision or unhindered joy in God. They were sinners too.
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning (Ps. 5:1).
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul is also greatly troubled (Ps. 6:2-3a).
Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Ps. 10:1)
I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God (Ps. 69:3).
“We cleave to the Psalms because they describe us,” Piper said. The Psalmists wrestled with sin and grappled with doubt like we do. They battled the same Enemy and were sustained by the same God.
The Psalms describe us in our utmost weakness and God in his utmost strength. We are free to sing both those of joyous praise and those of turmoiled confusion because he is Lord over all.
Why the Psalms Matter
I asked a collection of friends and family who attended the Sing! conference to answer this question. In light of everything that was taught, why do the Psalms matter to worship?
Here’s what they said:
“The Psalms are central because they help us see what Christ suffered through, and help us remember to rejoice, wait, and seek God no matter the circumstance! In abundance or need.”
“The Psalms were the songs Jesus sang through every kind of trial and weakness, even in the deepest despair of all: the agonies of Calvary. How much more should we sing them?”
“The Psalms are a direct reflection of the heart and attributes of a marvelous God that speak to the daily emotional struggles and joys we experience.”
“With the Psalms being part of the Bible, the inspired Word of God, they are so helpful in showing us how God asks us to worship Him.”
“Why do the Psalms matter to worship? They are a “rich feast for the soul” in the words of Tim Keller; they showcase the full spectrum of human emotion; and they provide a framework for relating to God in prayer, worship, lament, and praise.”
Indeed, the Psalms matter to our worship.