A well-crafted song expresses the reality of our lives with words that give voice to our thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Whether it's the pain from not fitting in through the lyrics of Janis Ian's "At Seventeen",
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
Where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
All this time how could you not know
Baby, you belong with me
You belong with me
The psalms gather us into song as real people with real lives, and they ask us to be open, honest, and authentic before our God. The psalms help us express our depression with words like, “Why so downcast O my soul?” They allow us to ask why the wicked prosper and why we are surrounded by trouble on every side. They invite us to marvel at the mountains, the sky and the sea, and even ponder why God cares about man. They guide us in repenting for our sin, and welcome us into celebration of our blessings.
Not only that, the Psalms also bind us together as God’s people and remind us that we were not intended to experience life’s situations alone, but as a people. And not just as a people, but as the people of God. A people who God has promised to love and care for, forever.
Ultimately, the purpose of the Psalms is to direct all our experiences towards the worship of the (our) God of steadfast love and faithfulness in every situation. As C.S. Lewis wrote, the Psalms remind us that ultimately, “we must pin all our hopes on the mercy of God, and the work of Christ, and not our own goodness.”
Perhaps that is why the Psalmist wrote,
“Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!" Psalm 150