After a week at Atlantic Beach an adjustment to my cholesterol and sugar intake is probably in order, thanks to fresh shrimp and banana cream cupcakes from Happy Cakes. Just like with our food consumption, sometimes we have to even out our Bible intake.
For a few months I have had a fairly steady diet of the book of James. My favorite discovery was the J.B. Phillips translation of James 2:1-4. “Don’t ever attempt, my brothers and sisters, to combine snobbery with faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ! Suppose on person comes into your meeting well-dressed and with a gold ring on his finger, and another person, obviously poor, arrives in shabby clothes. If you pay special attention to the well-dressed person by saying, ‘Please sit here – it’s an excellent seat,’ and say to the poor person, ‘You stand over there, please, or if you must sit, sit on the floor,’ doesn’t that prove you are making class-distinctions in your mind, and setting yourselves up to assess a person’s quality? – a very bad thing.”
After many practical lessons for daily Christian living, it seemed like it was time to turn to the Psalms. Many of the psalmists focused on God’s excellent greatness, especially as witnessed in creation and in God’s mighty work through history. Often they wrote personal songs of praise and thanksgiving and cried out to God in times of difficulty or despair.
Psalms were used almost exclusively in congregational singing until the end of the fourth century. John Calvin preferred this and they were the only music allowed for worship in Geneva. Today some Reformed protestant denominations practice “exclusive psalmody” or only sing biblical Psalms in congregational singing in worship but these congregations are relatively few and far between.
In most programs designed for an individual to read through the Bible in a year there is a selection from the Psalms each day. For denominations that use the common lectionary in order to cover the entire Bible in three years there is a daily reading from Psalms. Here are a few nice selections.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (Psalm 34:1-3)
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (Psalm 63:1-5)