Reading the Psalms

Sunset on Trinity Sunday


Yesterday, in the daily lectionary, we began the Psalter afresh, with Psalm 1, and will once again read them all through day by day before reaching Psalm 150 on 14th July. There are blips where some are taken slightly out of order and changes for occasional holy days, and Psalm 119 is read in parts over several Wednesdays, but on the whole we progress through the Psalter in order. We have done it countless times before - and always intend to - God willing.

We are probably inclined to approach the reading or singing of the psalms as simply part of daily life; it is just something that we do; entering into what has been the worshipping life of God’s people since before the days of Christ. They reflect life; human struggle and joy; commitment and faith; and, above all how God is understood and, more intimately, how he is apprehended and worshipped. It is no surprise to recognise that, even in days when Christianity is not as central to life as it once was in Britain, most people know of Psalm 23 and at least the beginning of Psalm 121, even if they are not sure where they are from.

I know that I have reached for analogies from the garden and nature before, but there is good Biblical precedence for doing this, and the idea of ‘growth’ in the Church is a constant driving force in much of its action, and reflected in a number of our Lord’s parables. The Psalms reflect on this too from the very “tree planted by the waterside” in Psalm 1, as they gradually expand and face the difficulties that assail us, and embrace and grow into the trust and faith that acknowledge the continuity and certainty of God’s mercy and compassion.

So, as May turns soon to June, and late Spring becomes early Summer, it is a good time to reflect on all that is happening around us, and, at the same time to begin again, as we do several times a year, the wisdom and encouragement of our daily path through the Psalms.

John Mann