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preaching skill

Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace

Why we preach from Psalms

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This unusual way of talking to God is the heart's true language.

If I were preaching onPsalm 91, that fortress of promised safety, I would help people see the structure and understand the more obscure word pictures. But more importantly, I would talk about the scores of times I've read this psalm in hospital rooms. (It is always my first choice.) I would show verbal snapshots of these places where sickness seems to be in charge, and where the future is especially murky. I would try to convey how this psalm, read again and again in crisis situations, has taken on a deeper meaning than we can acquire from a sermon or occasional devotional reading. The deeper meaning is a more settled assurance that even relentless pain and desperate diagnoses cannot assail the heart that rests in "the shadow of the Almighty" and his refuge of promises. The point: psalms mean more—mean deeper—when we've owned them in our own experience.

In preaching the psalms, the goal is not only to lay bare the truth of the text but also to show why it was meant to be sung or prayed, not merely said. The sin-sick lament of Psalm 51, the shepherd's walk of Psalm 23, the marching-to-Zion psalms of ascent speak of God and godliness more truly because they are poetry, and even more when they're the soul's own song. Preaching helps people hear the music in their heads and hearts, urges them to make the song their own, and helps people see how to pray this way.

Another task of the preacher is tuning hearts to the psalm's pitch. Many psalms trace a soul's progress in some circumstance of life. Psalm 4, for instance, begins, "Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress." It ends, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." The psalm traces David's journey from distress to peace.

Imagine that this psalm is a perfectly tuned, six-stringed guitar. (It is, after all, a perfectly tuned soul song.) Our people come to church each carrying their own guitar, out of pitch from a week of rough treatment and disuse. The preacher's job is to tune their heart-guitars to David's heart-guitar.

So we help them tune to v.1. The preacher might ask, "Have you ever felt like you're calling God, and he doesn't pick up? Like you keep getting his answering machine? 'Come on, God,' you say, 'pick up! I know you're there.'" In saying that, the preacher is tuning the hearts of his people to v.1.

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Keith Magill

November 19, 2012  1:18pm

The church used to actually sing the psalms regularly. When you finished preaching a psalm, you sang it - not some excerpts or parallel thoughts, but the psalm itself. That is when the real impact you describe comes. You could check out 2 resources. "Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms" by Dr. Michael LeFebvre (Christian Focus) and www.crownandcovenant.com for song books and CD's of all 150 Psalms.

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Elizabeth Neh Asaa epouse Babatunde

January 24, 2012  9:25am

I do not know what to do . i have written a number of times but my comment seems not to be accepted. The Lord knows how much i appreciate. I will sign off this page

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Elizabeth Neh Asaa epouse Babatunde

January 24, 2012  9:21am

I have never in my life time come across such insight into preaching from Psalms. this is from the Lord . How He does all to draw us closer to Himself. Thank you my brother- and for giving it free- you do not know how many will be blessed by it. May the Lord replenish as you avail yourself to Him . I will use it for my personal time and cooperate studies as i have the opening My star rating is 5 please, not 2. clicked on the wrong key

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Elizabeth Neh Asaa epouse Babatunde

January 24, 2012  9:13am

I have not in my life time come across such expositions to preaching from the book of Psalms. This is God given insight and wisdom. I will use this approach during my personal time and cooperate studies as given opportunities. Remain open for the Lord to continue to use you . Thank you my brother- and for giving it free- you can't imagine how many will be blessed by this free offer. May He replenish for His glory.

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Elizabeth Neh Asaa epouse Babatunde

January 24, 2012  9:05am

I have not come across such insight into preaching from the book of Psalms before.How God gives insight and wisdom to His own to draw us closer to Himself. I will use this for my personal and cooperate study as i have openings. May the Lord use you more as you avail yourself to Him . Thank you my brother.

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