Series: Songs of Worship—Getting Real With God
Sermon: A Choice
Speaker and Writer: Elia King
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Psalm 1 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: We tend to be overly idealistic in our worship sometimes. By that, I mean we tend not to be too realistic. And by that, I mean that many of us have an idea what worship is supposed to be like—somewhere in our minds we uphold an ideal. Based on that idea, sometimes we are able to identify what worship is not—a certain style of music or order of service. For many people, the idea and practice of worship intersects very little with the reality of everyday life. But for the writer of the Psalms, worship was about a vibrant way of life that overflowed with emotions that still resonate with most of us today. Passion. Anger. Betrayal. Doubt.
Even in the opening words of the first Psalm, the writer suggests that happiness has something to do with the way we live life every day. Scholars believe that the Psalms are a collection of poems and hymns that were formative for the Jewish faith (and in turn, the early church). In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis reminds his readers that “most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems; as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood. . . . Otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not.”
In The Songs of Jesus, authors Timothy and Kathy Keller go a step further to say that the Psalms “are written to be prayed, recited, and sung—to be done, not merely to be read.” In other words, the intent is for these poems and songs to give us vocabulary to express our hearts to God in the reality of our lives, not just in an ideal world. We should recognize familiar characters and emotions in the faithful and wicked characters described in the opening lines. Right away we should recognize that this is not just a book of poems about ideas. It is full of the stuff of real life.
Recalibrate: Do you have a favorite Psalm? What makes that Psalm special to you?
Respond: Pray that you will see God at work in unexpected places today.
Research: Search for “Psalm 1 song” on YouTube and listen to a few different interpretations of the psalm. Which versions appeal to you most? What do you notice about the different arrangements? Are there some styles or moods that seem to fit the message of the song more clearly than others?