The Rector's Blog
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June 9, 2016, 12:00 AM

Praying the Psalms


I don’t know how much time you have spent with the Psalms – they are an amazing collection of prayers and songs expressing the full range of human emotions, from soaring joy to abject misery. Fears of abandonment by God, appeals for justice, and 
deep repentance – all can be found in the psalms. Anytime we have a concern, we can find its reflection there. 

One of my favorite verses comes from Psalm 118: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”  I “adopted” this verse some years ago, to get me through hard times.

Another strong verse is 61:4: “I will dwell in your house forever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.”

In fact, I frequently recommend to those who seek counsel, that they spend time in the Psalms, and find a verse, or phrase, or prayer, that speaks to them in their current situation, and to write it down and carry the text with them as they go through their day. 

In addition to being prayers and songs, some of the psalms even talk about Israel’s history and provide imagery about creation not included in the Book of Genesis.  One example is found in Psalm 104:27: “and there is that Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.”

In fact Psalm 104 offers several ideas that either expand on or even contradict the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.  We can look at vs 22: “The lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God.”  Yet in Genesis, we read: “God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” (Gen 1:29-30).

Someone has suggested that whereas Genesis describes the “how” of creation, Psalm 104 describes the “why.”  The cedars of Lebanon are for the birds to make nests (vss 17-19), the moon marks the seasons (vs 20); darkness makes night (vs 21); and day time is for human labor (vs 24). 

Spend a little time with this Psalm and you will find that everything in creation has a divine purpose – and knowing this, we should perhaps ask ourselves, do we respect the divine purposes of everything around us? 

What might we do to heighten our appreciation for the regard in which God holds creation?


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