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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.