I often do my best thinking in the car, especially while stuck in traffic. So given Dallas’ traffic reputation, you figure I would be a genius. I’m not, but on the way home, with a local classic rock station on in the background, I heard U2’s “40”. U2 is probably my favorite band but “40” is one of their earliest works (it came out the year after I was born) and so it’s one of the more obscure U2 songs for me. Never the less, their live performance of this song stirs me to my core…
But hearing this song started the gears upstairs moving and it occurred to me that in a lifetime of church-going, I have probably heard more from the book of Psalms than any other book. I think we started learning Psalm 23 in the nursery. And yet, despite hearing the book for 30 years, I don’t know if there is a book I take more for granted. I guess I have always considered it poetry with little practical application for life.
I am starting to realize however that this is not a book to be dismissed or diminished when compared to others. This is a book to be cherished. As I read it now, I see the outpouring of a spirit that has come in contact with and has a full understanding of the living God and the words flow like the most epic love song. Psalm 40 being the perfect example…
40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.
4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
6 Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
9 I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You know.
10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.
11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
17 Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.
I read that and it becomes so personal to me because I realize that the same emotions which led the psalmist to write such words also dwell within me. Those words articulate what me heart feels but my mind cannot always convey. And it’s not just a love song. There is real world application in those words. To live a life in the constant knowledge that I am weak and cannot make it on my own but that God has supplied for me. There is such freedom in those words.
Let this be a lesson (to me at least) that there is no fluff in the Bible. Nothing was stuck in there to pad the page count. There is truth everywhere. It exists throughout and the truth as the psalmist experienced it was so powerful and moving that it poured out of them into a book that reads like love poetry. My hope and prayer is that the wonder and awe that so moved him, never leaves me and my life reads like the pages of Psalms, as one long love song.
- Tommy K