Quick: what’s your favorite genre of music?
If you’re like me, that’s a hard question because I like different artists in a wide variety of musical styles.
The diversity of musical genres is one of the things that draws me to music. Different songs, styles, and artists can connect with you based on your mood, your environment, and your experiences.
Music can also have different purposes. Sometimes songs are instructive (how did you learn your ABCs?), and sometimes they are expressive (when you’re in your feels blasting Adele).
The same is also true of the biblical book of Psalms.
The Psalms are the songbook of God’s people – it’s like the Bible’s Spotify playlist. All of the Bible’s major themes can be found in these songs. Some are more instructive, some are more expressive, and they cover the spectrum of human emotion. All of them have something to teach us about God and ourselves.
Here are 8 reasons you should read through the Psalms:
1. They Teach Us Wonder & Awe
“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare” (Psalm 40:5).
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
The Psalms show us the beauty of God and his mind-blowing creative power, yet also his nearness and presence with us.
2. They Teach Us Lament
We live in a broken world. Death, disaster, and disappointment are all a part of our human experience. What is the Christian response to pain and sadness? Do we just grin and bear it? Smile and pretend everything is okay? The writers of the Psalms didn’t think so.
The psalms of lament teach us what it looks like to pour out our hurt, our emotion, and our pain to God. In turning to God in our brokenness, they also remind us of the God who hears us and meets us in our pain.
3. They Teach Us How to Pray
If you’ve ever felt you didn’t know what to pray, the Psalms help us here as well. When we read the Psalms, we learn from the experiences of others who have walked with God, allowing them to become our prayer coaches. By reading the prayers of others, we can learn what it looks like to talk to God ourselves.
4. They Teach Us the Value of God’s Word
Psalm 1 encourages us to meditate on the Bible, Psalm 19 tells us the benefits of reading the Bible, and Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible — and it’s all about the Bible.
Speaking of Psalm 119, in the original language, the psalm is written as an acrostic, where each new section begins with the next letter of Hebrew alphabet. It’s as if David is saying, “From A to Z, the Bible is awesome.”1
5. They Teach Us About God’s Character
Theology is simply the study of God. We study theology because it helps us know God. As we grow in our love for God, it should propel our desire to know him better. The reverse is also true: we grow to know him better, it helps us love him all the more. In the Psalms, we learn of God’s attributes, who he is, and who he will always be.
6. They Teach Us About Repentance
The most well-known Psalm of repentance is Psalm 51. If you don’t know the backstory, here you go: David has committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed to cover up his actions. After the prophet Nathan confronted him (2 Sam 12), David confesses and cries out to God. This Psalm was born out of David’s lowest moment. It shows the ugliness of sin and what it looks like to turn back to God.
7. They Teach Us About Worship
The whole point of Psalms is about exalting God and calling God’s people to worship him. Many churches read from the Psalms during their worship services to prepare hearts and minds to worship God. They teach us to worship God for who he is and what he had done.
8. They Teach Us About Jesus
Many of the Psalms are Messianic, meaning they look forward to the Messiah who would come for God’s people. In that case, it makes sense why Jesus quoted the Psalms more than any other book of the Old Testament. As is the case with all of the Bible, the Psalms lead us to Jesus.
Put the Psalms On Repeat
The Book of Psalms is a deep well of songs, prayers, and teachings about God. Imagine what would happen if you spent the next week reading and meditating on the Psalms. You could even spend the next 150 days working through one per day, five minutes at the time.
Like your favorite songs, keep coming back to the Psalms and you’ll find comfort in old classics and joy in new discoveries.