Reading the Psalms can change your life

April 27, 2013 

Are you so busy, you feel you have 10 minutes or less for God most days? Spend them in the psalms.

Need joy? Peace? Hope? A fitting way to express your feelings when others treat you unfairly?

Turn to the Bible's psalms, poems of prayer and praise which Jewish people sang already in King David's day.

Whether you know the psalms well or not, 3,000 years of believers all urge you, from experience:

Read the psalms.

Pray the psalms.

Sing the psalms.

One reason I agree is personal. They are wondrous.

Whether you are acquainted with the Bible's psalms, or not, you will benefit from them.

Whether you are Catholic, Protestant or neither, rest on their promises. Revel in their shouts. Soak up their whispers. You will love them, too.

A second reason is historical.

In 1513, exactly 500 years ago, an obscure Augustinian friar, newly commissioned as a doctor of theology, was assigned to lecture on one book of the Bible. It changed him -- and through him, altered the planet.

The friar? Martin Luther.

What was the Biblebook Luther first lectured on, at a dinky university in a German city of only 2,500 residents? What book kicked off the European Reformation?

Psalms.

Calling Psalms a "book" may mislead. Jewish believers who collected the psalms arranged them in five booklets.

Originally written on scrolls, the psalms can be read now in more places than printed books. You can read them, or listen to someone else read them, on the web.

One highly recommended site is Audio resources at www.biblegateway.com.

YouTube has artfulversions of all the psalms. YouTube has junk, too.So a blog our church is sponsoring, www.chronologicalpsalms2013.wordpress.com, filters for you.

Each weekday it offers a psalm, or portion of a psalm, along with an exemplary YouTube version of that same psalm, so you can hear it sung well -- usually in a contemporary style. If you prefer, we will e-mail you the same links in a free, no-obligation format.

Why read, sing and listen to others sing the psalms? A third reason is theological.

Luther wrote, "The Psalter ought to be a precious and beloved book, if for no other reason than this: It promises Christ's death and resurrection so clearly."

Lastly, a practical reason. The Bible is thick. The Psalms? Far thinner. Luther, again: "The Psalter ... might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.

"It is really a fine ... handbook. In fact, I have a notion that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble himself to compile a short Bible and book of examples of all Christendom or all saints, so that anyone who could not read the whole Bible would here have anyway almost an entire summary of it, comprised in one little book ... "

"It teaches you in joy, fear, hope and sorrow to think and speak as all the saints have thought and spoken."

The Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 941-747-5564. For more information, visit www.rsavior.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.

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