We are doing Beth Moore's study called "Stepping UP" which is her study on the book of Psalms. Let me tell you, I am enjoying this study in it's entirety. This is my first Beth Moore bible study to do and I just love learning from her. She not only has so much wisdom and insight but her personality and love for God is infectious!
The study is a "journey through the Psalms of Ascent" which is a grouping of 15 psalms from psalm 120 to 134. These specific psalms are associated with three feasts in the Old Testament (the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of the Tabernacles), the 15 steps of the Old Testament temple, and with the exiles on their return to Jerusalem after Babylonian captivity.
I'm writing these words about this study now because in today's lesson, Beth quoted an incredible description of psalms that was enlightening. Yes, I absolutely cherish the psalms because they provide beautiful images of God and his people, they are easier to grasp than other passages, and they are meant to me sung! These words from Nahum M. Sarna, a Jewish scholar, just depict so clearly why the psalms penetrate our souls:
"In the Law and the Prophets, God reaches out to man. The initiative is His. The message is His. He communicates, we receive. Our God given free-will allows us to be receptive, to be accepting, to turn a deaf ear, to reject. In the Psalms, human beings reach out to God. The initiative is human. The language is human. We make an effort to communicate. He receives; he chooses to respond or not, according to His inscrutable wisdom. He gives his assent or withholds it. In the Psalms, the human soul extends itself beyond its confining, sheltering, impermanent house of clay. It strives for contact with the ultimate Source of all life. It gropes for an experience of the divine Presence. The biblical psalms are essentially a record of the human quest for God. Hence, the variety of forms in which the ancient psalmists expressed themselves, reflective of the diverse and changing moods that possessed them as they do all human beings. In short, the psalms constitute a revealing portrayal of the human condition."
Really neat, right? I like his wording about contrasting how the other parts of the OT (the prophets and the law) are God's effort to communicate with us and how the psalms is the human effort. While taking all this in thought, the entire Word of God is God's effort to communicate with His people in which He is able to communicate through so many different inspired writers and believers giving the Bible the rounded appeal that it has!
As I mentioned, I am just loving this study of these 15 psalms. I am learning so much about the history of the events surrounding these psalms like details about the feasts that I mentioned. I am also expanding my knowledge and my ways of how I can worship my creator. Beth has us rewrite each psalm (after we studied it), in our own words so that it can be our prayer and song to the Lord. I am cherishing this activity, although it is often difficult, because it is allowing me broadened the ways I can worship and the ways that I can related the words within scripture to my life personally. I am just full of joy from the Lord!
I really want to do her study called "Here and Now... There and Then" in which Beth goes through the book of Revelation. I think that one shall be my next study because of how intriguing I find Revelation. (Not to mention, I had to do a 35 minute lecture on the second half of Revelation for my Old Testament class sophomore year. That was intense!)
In light of my study through the Psalms of Ascent, I thought I would share one of my personal renditions. I picked our the psalm that we are memorizing throughout the study just for fun!
Psalm 121 (NIV)
I left my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you--the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 (by me)
Who helps me on my journey through this world?
It is my creator, God who formed with His hands, this earth and the heavens above.
He is ever present in this created minefield. He will not let me fall or be harmed.
God's hand is steadily upon me as I traverse through this wondrous yet hazardous place.
My creator will protect me through the ends of this Earth forever and ever.
Although my words were hardly inspired by God, it is neat to be able to rework and rewrite these worship passages to be able to pray back to God. I think it's a neat exercise!
Perhaps you should try rewriting a psalm of praise yourself, "dear ones."