Continuing with our series on “Why Sing the Psalms in Worship?” here is our second reason:
2. It is an excellent way of hiding God’s word in your heart and letting the word of God dwell in you richly (Ps. 119:11; Col. 3:16).
The Psalmist declared, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). Paul told the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). Simply put, singing the Psalms in worship will help you memorize God’s Word.
My former home church in Torrance started singing the Psalms in worship a little over ten years ago. At first it was rough. Every song was new and unfamiliar to us. We probably sounded terrible and some of us had our doubts about singing the Psalms. But over time, the whole congregation has come to love singing the Psalms and now knows about 75 of the 150 and they are still learning the rest.
The amazing thing is that even though we struggled to get through them at the beginning, the more we have sung them over the years the more I have noticed that some of the members don’t even need to look at the psalter anymore. Even many of the kids sing them from memory. People have stored God’s Word in their heart. And I’ll bet most of them didn’t even try to memorize these Psalms. I can at least speak from experience that some of the Psalms that I have memorized had nothing to do with me trying to memorize them. We all know that if we hear a song enough times it just sort of works its way into our memory. Sometimes we can’t get a tune out of our head.
Singing the Psalms is especially important for our little ones. Kids are sponges. They just absorb things in a way that adults cannot. How many of you can remember a song from one of your favorite cartoons as a kid? I can remember the theme song for Duck Tales, Chip and Dales Rescue Rangers, Scooby Doo, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the list could go on and on. I don’t even have a choice when it comes to forgetting these songs. They are just there, permanently. O how I wish that I could say the same thing about the Spirit inspired songs from God’s word! You know what though, it isn’t too late. By God’s grace if you start singing the Psalms you will be surprised at how easily a song can still get stuck in your head.
Memorizing Scripture in this way will help you in your various trials and temptations in this life. Think about our Lord Jesus. What was His strategy for battling temptation with the devil? He quoted scripture (Matt. 4:1-11). When you are tempted to sin, you can do battle with your flesh and the devil by singing a Psalm. If you are struggling with the lust of the eyes, sing Psalm 101:
“3 I will not set before my eyes, anything that is worthless.”
When you are struggling with depression and doubt, sing to yourself the words of Psalm 42:
5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”
When you are struggling with confidence, cut out the middle man (Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress) and go straight to the source of Psalm 46:
“1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
When you are not in the mood to go to church on Sunday morning, encourage yourself by singing Psalm 122 in the car:
1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
I could give you tons of more examples. The Psalms are the best soil for your soul in these temptations. Let your roots sink deep into the Psalms.
Singing the Psalms will also help you when you are in the hospital recovering from cancer, brain surgery, a car accident or when you are dying on your death bed. After all what was on Jesus’ heart and mind when he was dying on the cross? The words of Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; cf. Ps. 22). If it helped him in his darkest hour of trial it will surely help you in your darkest hour of trial. Sing the Psalms for the sake of your comfort and hope when you are about to die. Psalm 22 turns to hope in the end. It not only foreshadowed Jesus’ sufferings it also foreshadowed his exaltation at the Father’s right hand.
“Ok, I’m convinced, now what?”
Hopefully you are able to say this. If so, pick yourself up a psalter and find your favorite Psalm and start singing it once a day in family worship or in your personal devotions. You’d be surprised at how fast you will memorize God’s word in this way. Then once you have learned the benefits of this practice, tell your elders and pastors about it. Encourage them to start implementing Psalm singing on Sunday morning in worship. Tell them you want to see Christians hiding God’s Word in their heart and how this has helped you.
In case you are looking for a good Psalter to sing from I recommend the following:
This is the psalter that my former church in Torrance uses. It has some great tunes and sticks closely to the original text. I highly recommend starting with Psalm 23B set to the tune of “Crimmond.” It is the most beautiful tune I have ever heard for Psalm 23. The midi file doesn’t do it justice. Sing it acapella in parts and you heart will melt as the melody reinforces the tenderness and confidence of the words of the Psalm.
This psalter is good too:
It is a revision and completion of the project of the psalter above. The words are in modern English and they did a great job with it. If you click on either of the images it will take you to the web-site where you can purchase them. They also have a web-site dedicated to helping you sing the Psalms from these psalters. You can listen to all of the tunes and sing along. And as you do, may the Word of God dwell richly in your heart as you sing the Psalms and hide God’s Word in your heart!