The Book of Psalms has been called the Prayer Book of the Bible. Praise and pleadings are found in its honest, heartfelt, and God-centered pages. The words of the psalms give voice to our deepest needs, informing individual prayer. The psalms have also been used in public worship, Jewish and Christian, from earliest times. They are spoken responsively and set to music, forming the basis of some our greatest songs and hymns. Many people have a favorite psalm, such as the 23rd, which they learn and carry with them in their hearts.
Psalms cover the vast range of human experience, always in the context of God’s wise and gracious dealings with us. Psalms celebrate the Lord’s work in creation, they express great joy and dark fears, they give thanks for protection and deliverance, and they recall the wonder of miracles and the majesty of the law. Often, psalms ask for salvation from enemies, and may even look for God’s judgment on foes. Some psalms, such as Ps. 51, form a confession of sins, directing us to place our hope in God’s forgiveness.
Jesus in his boyhood and youth would have been profoundly shaped by the psalms. His teachings often contained references to them. New Testament writers saw in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, the fulfillment of prophetic words in the psalms.
The psalms can strengthen our spiritual life in many ways. As we make these biblical prayers more and more our own, we will be blessed by the Word dwelling in us richly.
Congratulations friends! You are about to embark on a very special journey. This journey will start on the first page of the Bible and will end on the last. You’ll read a little bit every day and, in 90 days, you will have read the entire Bible, cover-to-cover!
If you’ve ever tried to read the Bible on your own, you may have already discovered that sometimes reading the Bible can be kind of hard! It doesn’t always make sense at first! So as we begin this journey together, we wanted to share some insights on how you can get the most out of this experience. Here are some Bible-reading tools of the trade for you to hold on to as you read…
1. Always start with prayer. One of the Holy Spirit’s main jobs is to help us understand what God wants to say to us. So it’s best to ask for help listening to and understanding God’s Word. As you open your Bible each day, say a simple prayer like this: “Gracious God, thank you for this gift I hold in my hands. May your Spirit fill me and interpret your precious words for me as I read. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”
2. Take the 5,000-foot view. You’re going to be reading a LOT of the Bible each day. If you ever want to get through it, know that you’re not going to get to really dig in deep. There may be parts that interest you each day that you want to learn more about. Take a note of these passages so that you can go back later to investigate! If you try and go deeper now, you’ll likely fall behind.
Also, remember that it’s okay if you don’t understand everything the first time through. Make note of the passages that confuse you. Bring your questions to your BIND group or send a note to your pastors. But don’t let your confusion discourage you from continuing to read. You’ll be surprised at the end how much you’ve learned!
3. Utilize the tools of the scientific method. As you read, keep your Participant’s Guide or a journal handy. Jot down a couple notes as you read.
- Observation: What does this passage say?
- Take note of the basic WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY’s of the passage
- Interpretation: What does this passage mean?
- This is where the Essential Bible Companion can be a BIG help.I
- Identify the message of the book as a whole
- Understand what kind of literature it is… (Is it Historical, Biographical, Poetic, Proverbial, Prophetic, a Letter, or some combination thereof?) We read poems very differently than we read commands, so it’s helpful to be able to identify the
- Try to gain an understanding of what the meaning might have been for this passage, both for the people to whom it was written, and for us today.
- Application: What does this passage mean to me?
- Try and take at least one life-lesson with you throughout the day. Ask yourself…
- Have I learned something new about what I believe?
- Do I need to change of thought or behavior?
- If I applied this passage to my life today, how would my day look different?
- Transformation: Letting the Word of God change your life.
- The apostle Paul writes this about the role of Scripture in our lives: “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God might be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
- Notice, he does not say that the purpose of reading and knowing Scripture is to enable us to get a 100% score on the entrance exam to heaven. We read the Bible so that we become equipped for good works… so that we can become transformed into the kind of people from whom goodness flows like an unceasing stream.
Blessings on you as you endeavor upon this exciting and life-changing adventure!