For centuries, people from many backgrounds and viewpoints have loved reading the Psalms. The Psalms, because they are poetry speaks to the heart directly. They laugh and sing with us. They weep and rail against the Heavens. They cry out in pain, fright, derision, joy, and the sheer delight of life. So, many read them purely to find a “kindred spirit” to their own moods.
But, the Psalms are much more than poetry (see 2Timothy 3:16). Many of the psalms bear the title Maskil or teaching psalm. They are meant to teach the mind as well as to encourage the heart. They are intended not only to reflect a mood, but to show us also how to deal with that mood, how to escape from depression, or how to balance our joy and excitement with wisdom. These are not merely human songs, reflecting the common experience of men, but they relate also the wisdom and release that ensues when a hurt or a joy is laid (and left) at the feet of God.
There is no book like the Psalms to meet the need of the heart when it feels discouraged or defeated, or when it is elated and encouraged.
In her classic, What the Bible Is All About, Henrietta Mears said Psalms is “the book for all who are in need, the sick and suffering, the poor and needy, the prisoner and exile, the man in danger, the persecuted. It is a book for the sinner, telling him of God’s great mercy and forgiveness. It is a book for the child of God, leading him into new experiences with the Lord. It tells of God’s law in its perfection and pronounces blessings upon the one who will keep it.”
Mears continues, “Hold your Bible in your hand and turn to the middle of the book. Most often you’ll open to the Psalms. Not merely is this true physically. There is a deeper truth. The Psalms are central also in human experience.
“This book is used by Hebrew and Christian alike even in our day. The Psalms were for use in the Temple, for which many were prepared. They were written for the heart to worship God out under the open heavens or in the pit of despair or in a cave of hiding. When you find yourself in deep need you can always find a psalm which expresses your inmost feeling. Or, if you have an abounding joy, the words are there for you too.”