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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
In 2 Samuel 22, David does one of the things that endears him so greatly to God. He bursts into psalm (a song of praise). A psalm of praise to Yahweh isn't only a joy to read and a glory to Yahweh, it is also a blessing to create one, lifting the heart and strengthening the soul.
So, this morning, in order to keep our worship times "spicy" (varied enough to be fresh and interesting), I propose an activity. Let's each create our own personal psalm of praise to Yahweh. Here's how (as explained by Bobby and Kristen Gilles on their website, My Song in the Night):
Many people have called the Book of Psalms the “prayer book of the Bible” and the “songbook of the Bible.” The psalms cover the full range of human emotion through prayers, cries, questions, laments and praises to God – in stark contrast to the limited range of expression in many church worship services today...
Yet in the psalms we find encouragement in the midst of anger, hurt, fear and confusion, as well as joy, faith and hope. So, many people have written their own “psalms” to structure their prayer and to declare their testimony...
Old Testament poetry doesn’t use rhyme and meter but does use poetry devices like imagery, and forms of wordplay. The three main types of ancient Hebrew poems are Synonymous poetry, antithetical poetry and synthetic poetry. Don’t let those names intimidate you – you can do this.
Synonymous poetry features two lines that say nearly the same thing, in order to drive a point across. Check out Psalm 3:1 –
Lord, how many are my foes!So let’s say you’re a parent, writing a psalm about a child who is addicted to drugs. You might say:
How many rise up against me!
Listen, you mothers.Get it? All three lines cry for the attention of those who are raising kids.
Hear me, you fathers.
Pay attention, all of you with children in your care.
Antithetical poetry is the opposite – it uses successive lines to say two different things, each relative to the same theme. You’ll not only find this in Psalms, but all over the Book of Proverbs, such as Proverbs 17:22 –
A cheerful heart is good like medicine,Synthetic poetry uses successive lines to build to a point, systematically showing or convincing the reader. Some of these passages can be long, like Psalm 139:1-6. Joel uses it several times in Joel 1:1-20.
But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Here is a strong, short example from “You Have Redeemed My Soul” written by Don and Lori Shaffer, recorded on Enter The Worship Circle by 100 Portraits and Waterdeep:
I was a hungry childThere you have it – three Old Testament poetic forms you can use for your personal psalms, or for any kind of songwriting, as well as sermons, lectures or other types of persuasive speech: Synonymous, Synthetic and Antithetical poems.
A dried up river
I was a burned out forest
And no one could do anything for me
Remember the point of writing a personal psalm isn’t to compose a masterpiece for your church to sing, but to give voice to your joy and pain. It is your testimony, and its validity doesn’t depend on how skillfully you write.There are four particular psalms to start out with in order train you, before you write your own:
- Psalm 55 – about being betrayed by someone close to you.
- Psalm 56 – about feeling trapped, pinned down or captured.
- Psalm 57 – about feeling threatened by a powerful enemy.
- Psalm 51 – about repentance. (My Song in the Night)