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The Psalms: A Template for Human Expression

The Psalms: A Template for Human Expression
Will Retherford

The Bible is a wonderful sacred text. It is full of history, poetry, allegories, meditations, the narrative of Christ, and human expression. The book of Psalms is a profound book capturing pain, victory, confusion, joy, regret, anger, and love by multiple authors including: the famous King David, his son Solomon, the Sons of Korah, and other mystery authors.

Within the infallible gospel message, and the captivating pictures and descriptions of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, there is room in the word of God for the human expression. Often when we pray, we try to present our “perfect selves” to God so that He can hear our prayers. This is a common misconception. Of course God loves our victories, praise, and thanksgivings, but He also wants our pain and anger. He can handle it. Many times we give our pain and anger to the people around us who can’t handle it. God is asking for us to be our honest selves when we come to Him, and I believe the book of Psalms is a perfect template for this.

We must be willing to meet our pain and anger head first in order to walk into victory.
We see beautiful meditations and declarations in Psalm 119:

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!”

When we speak our reality and speak His promises, we are confessing that we do not always keep his word or walk in his ways of love. When we meditate and pray, “My soul melts away with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” we are combining our truth with His truth, and His truth wins every time. We must be willing to acknowledge our valley so we may rise to His mountain.

The book of Psalms is a wonderful place to start praying scripture and meditating. But I also believe God wants us to write and pray our own psalms as well. The word psalm literally means “sacred song or hymn,” and the Bible affirms David’s psalms as sacred, and God affirms our psalms sacred as well, were just too late to get into the Bible.

Don’t be afraid to confess and pray your current reality to your Creator. God is always with us waiting for us to show up.

N.T Wright says, “The Psalms are not only poetry in themselves; they are to be the cause of poetry in those who sing them, together and individually. They are God’s gifts to us so that we can be shaped as his gift to the world.”

The Psalms are meant to inspire us to write and sing a new psalm (song) to the Lord. The Bible shapes us. The Psalms shape us and our psalms shape us as well. Wright continues to say, “Sing these songs, and they will renew you from head to toe, from heart to mind. Pray these poems, and they will sustain you on the long, hard but exhilarating road of Christian discipleship.”

We will always feel the melting pot of human emotions, and God wants to use these emotions for His glory. This is how beautiful worship songs are captured for the Church. This is how profound books are written that lead us to knowledge. This is how sermons are crafted that move us to conviction, worship, and inspiration. This how we can learn to live honest lives that know how to love others they way they need to be loved. When we own our actual reality (good or bad), we can then lay our reality at the foot of the cross for the Kingdom. As we walk out our faith, God will continue to renew us daily as we humbly confess our human expression so that we may go from valley to mountain, and sometimes from mountain to valley and back up the mountain again, but God is always with us.


Will Retherford is our Assistant Worship Director, a student at 10,000 Father’s Worship School, & is working on his Masters from General Theological Seminary. He has worked with artists such as Gungor, The Brilliance, and David Leonard from All Sons & Daughters.

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