Found in the Old Testament of the Bible, Psalms have a certain mythic quality to them. Originally written as songs, Psalms are often used to present morality tales or to provide an acknowledgment of certain moral concepts. It is believed that Psalms were originally written by King David, although there is way to completely verify the actual authorship. Records indicate, however, that the Psalms are several thousands of years old. This brings forth the important question: how is it that Psalms remain relevant in today’s modern world?
The answer is that the themes found in the Psalms are timeless because they are based on a “common sense” approach to moral living that does not fall out of style as the years pass. Specifically, the songs of the Psalms are designed to address God directly. However, this does not mean that those listening to or singing the Psalms are to ignore their content. Actually, it is the opposite that is true as Psalms are also designed for reflection. In other words, a sort of meditation is intended while singing or listening to songs.
Again, while the Psalms are directed towards God, those involved in the worship are intended to realize a transformative experience. How is this achieved? There are a number of ways and in order to understand how it occurs one must look closely at certain passages within the Psalms. Consider Psalm 4. This Psalm speaks to God with the intention of asking God to be forgiving of glory that was not directed towards God. Additionally, the Psalm talks about God putting gladness in one’s heart with the end result being a spiritual re-awakening.
Understanding and Analyzing the Psalms – 2 Now, there are many potential interpretations to this Psalm. On the surface, it is clear that a warning about materialism is present. Forgiving one’s glory can refer to a person seeking penance for looking for the material things in life. When the person realizes that materialism is not what one should seek in life, the person immediately turns to God. As such, one can infer that this Psalm is a wake up call to those who assume they can find happiness through materialism.
When they realize that true happiness comes from an embrace of the spiritual, they develop a complete reversal of their outlook on like. In a way, one could say this shares similarities to the concept of nirvana in Zen Buddhism. Once again, there is certain timelessness to the subtext found within this psalm. After all, materialism and all its troubles have been with us since the dawn of time. To free oneself of materialism is to be free of attachments which put the person in charge of his life as opposed to mitigating factors. As such, the timelessness of this Psalm is understandable.
Psalm 17 is quite an interesting Psalm since it is a call for help. Specifically, this Psalm asks God’s help in providing protection from the wicked who may seek to oppress the singer as well as protecting the singer from the problematic wickedness that might exist within the person’s own heart. Ultimately, this Psalm reveals that it is not out of the ordinary for people to feel self-doubt and external pressures. That is, they may not always do the right thing and they may find themselves in danger of falling under the influence of those who may do them harm.
God understands this and understands people may need help when dealing Understanding and Analyzing the Psalms – 3 with difficult situations. Again, this is a timeless concept that has existed all throughout the ages. The third and last illustrative example from the Psalms is Psalm 23 which is possible the most famous Psalm of all. In this Psalm is the famous passage “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. ” Within this Psalm is the crux of the worship of God. That is, no matter how bad things may be, God will always be there for you.
While his help may not always be overt or obvious, he will never abandon his children. Ultimately, this is a timeless message of positive beliefs that has allowed the Judeo-Christian religion to maintain followers for thousands of years. What these three Psalms display is the notion that sometimes the worshippers need to profess their beliefs out loud in the form of song as a means of absorbing what is taught. Yes, on the surface, the Psalms appear to speak to God directly but it is a common Judeo-Christian belief that God lives in all of us.
As a result, it becomes important to verbally affirm one’s belief so in order to remember why people believe. Whether it is disavowing material gain, dealing with internal or external demons, or remembering that God never abandons us, the Psalms provide a clear message of hope that we sometimes forget. Therein is a very important component of the Psalms: the Psalms prevent us from forgetting the reason for the faith. Of course, the Psalms are open to wide interpretation. However, the timelessness of the Psalms is without question and their purpose for existence is clearly understood.