Every new semester of Bible Study I ask the girls in my group 3 questions... "tell us your name"... "tell us about yourself" ... and "what is your favorite book of the bible TODAY".
In the fifteen + years I have been teaching, the hands down favorite book of the bible is Psalms.
I find this so so interesting. What makes this book written over 3,000 years ago still so very popular?
Here's my guess at the answer...
The book of Psalms is a collection of songs of worship. It is a book of prayer and praise.
To truly understand this we need to dig out the meaning of three words...
Worship... verbalizing the WORTH of God. Like if you could put God on a scale and measure all He is and then in amazement you got to tell the world how much His glory weighs because you actually got to see it! That is worship.
Praise... is the Hebrew word is Halal (haw-lal'). Can you hear part of the word Hallelujah? Like the Hallelujah chorus? The word carries with it the idea of shining a big huge spotlight on someone and then when you can see clearly talking about what you see. In God's case, boasting and shouting about what you see!
Prayer... communicating, talking, a two way conversation with the Creator of ALL... and yes, He IS listening and if you give Him a chance He will communicate to you too!
So if the book of Psalms is a book of worship and praise and prayer... then the book must be like that huge scale and a giant spotlight on God... on God's glory and worth. It must magnify...show forth... the very character of God. And in amazement you get to tell Him what you saw!
And that is exactly what it does!
If you want to know God read the Book of Psalms!
150 Chapters of who God is... God's character... God's accomplishments... God's abilities... God's personality... God's exploits... and more.
This ancient book was mostly written by a "man after God's own heart". A man who was the king of Israel. It was written by King David.
David was a boy chosen by God to be King. And the spirit of God Himself rested upon David.
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the presence of his (David's) brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. 1 Samuel 16:13
So this king chosen by God, who was a man after God's own heart, and one that God's very spirit rested upon wrote songs of worship and praise and prayer. All of these psalms were breathed by God and given to David and then given to us!
This is the book of Psalms.
Every once in awhile the word SELAH (say-la') appears in the book of Psalms. It is a Hebrew word that means... "This is so magnificent! Stop and think about it!
Because the Psalms were set to music as a way of worship "Selah" was usually a musical interlude so the listener could... stop and think about what was just said. It was a way for the listener to stop and soak in all the bigness and wonder of what they had just learned about God!
Selah is one of my favorite words!
The book of Psalms is not a book to be rushed through. It is a book, when read, that we should often stop and close our eyes and really take in the glory of the Lord! SELAH!
Sometimes I am so overcome by what I have learned about God, I literally put my head down on my desk and cry! Liquid Selah!
When my children were growing up I often said... "How can you serve a God you do not know"? Read the Psalms to know Him better!
Let's look at Psalm 146...
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
There is a whole lot we can learn about who God is from this psalm.
What I like to do is to make a running list entitled "GOD"...
On that running list I write down all the things I learn about who God is. I keep it in a notebook. And after I make an entry I SELAH, and tell God just what I have learned about Him and how I have seen these attributes of Him working in my life (which is worship and praise and prayer).
I can't tell you how much more I retain from making my own list... by pulling things out of the bible and writing them down myself!
Here is an example...( my Selah thoughts are in parenthesis)
In Psalm 146 here is what I have learned about...
~ He is the Maker of heaven and earth, and the sea and everything in them (yes, I see your great hand everywhere Father! Praise you for your creation. Thank you for sharing it with me!)
~He remains faithful forever (Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!... song)
~He upholds the cause of the oppressed (The oppressed need you Lord, they are so vulnerable and hard pressed! Show me how to be your hands and help them)
~He gives food to the hungry (Without you I would starve! But even more than that, I need your spiritual food even more! Thank you for my full cupboards and frig! Help the hungry of the world today!)
~He sets the prisoner's free (Lord, I know this well! You have set me free from the bondage of sin and death and from the family of the evil one. You have given me clothes of righteousness through your son, Jesus. I was once a prisoner and now I am free. I would never want that life again!)
~the Lord gives sight to the blind (I know how Jesus gave sight to the blind. Amazing! Loving! Compassionate! Jesus also took me from spiritual blindness and gave me perfect vision... vision of you Father!)
~ He lifts up those who are bowed down (Just like you lift up the humble, you make those who are proud to bow down. Help me Lord to be humble)
~ the Lord loves the righteous (You are the giver of being in right standing. It is a fee gift. A gift beyond measure. It is ALL about YOU!)
~the Lord watches over the foreigner (Lord, your word says that we... all who are saved by the works of Jesus... are aliens... foreigners in this world. Thank you for showing great favor to me and watching over me. Please watch over and protect my family. I put them in your hands. And those who are foreigner's to your Son's saving grace, Lord watch over them. Show Jesus to them!)
~He sustains the fatherless and the widow (Thank you for giving physical and mental help to the fatherless. There are so so many in our nation. Be close to them today Lord! Help them. I have some friends Father who have lost their husbands through death and divorce... keep them close to you! Let me be mindful of them.)
~He frustrates the ways of the wicked (You are my protection... thank you!)
~the Lord reigns forever (Lord you are eternal. You had no beginning and no end. You are king now, were king in all eternity past and will be forever into the future. I am so so blessed to be yours... to be the daughter of the king! What an amazing thought. Let me live now, here on earth, as a part of your kingdom. Let me show others just who you are my, KING!)
Look what I have learned about God this morning... just from 10 little verses! I can go back during the day and reflect or pray or even tell God again what I have learned about Him. I am amazed by what I have learned!
I have gotten to know the GOD OF EVERYTHING better!
And what difference does that make in my life? A BIG BIG difference.
Knowing God helps me to trust Him more... believe Him... cling to Him in troubled times, give credit to him in happy times and live my life in light of who He is!
Knowing God makes me want to be like my Father. It makes me want to please Him and work for Him while I am on earth... and look forward to eternity with Him!
I think so many of the ladies in our bible study love Psalms because they can see who God is and they can praise God right along with King David... and all of heaven! What an amazing thing...
What a SELAH!
Here's my challenge to you today... Do you want to know God more? Do you want to know life changing things?
Then start reading Psalms everyday. Start with Psalm 1 and read just a few verses. Write down what you have learned about God and Selah!
Worship and Praise the God of heaven and earth. Say it out loud... what a prayer you will pray!
It will be your own Hallelujah Chors!