i’ve heard various ways of relating to the Scripture and how to make it cling to our hearts and in our lives, from singing verses over ourselves to replacing the “you’s” with “me’s” and inserting your own name into the promises. both of those examples are great ideas, but didn’t really seem to work for me–they didn’t seem to strike a nerve in my faith.
but in january, we started the Beth Moore “Psalms of Ascent” Bible study, where we’re studying Psalms 120-134. (i’ve learned a lot through this study and would totally recommend it, and am sure i’ll share more of that at another time.) one of the things i especially like about this study is that upon studying each of these psalms and ruminating on them, she has us rewrite them in regards to what they mean to us and regarding the emotions and circumstances of our own life currently. even that might sound boring to you, but i’ve found it to be so amazing.
though there are some Psalms that I definitely identify with and will pray, word-for-word, there are others that I just think, “that doesn’t apply to me,” whether it’s times when David’s talking about his enemies hunting him down or fleeing and hiding and near-death misses or being righteous and unblameworthy. i don’t ever really feel that way, so often i’d just breeze past and dismiss those Psalms.
as i started rewriting the select ones for this study, though, i started seeing that, well, if i truly took the time to reflect on them, i know that it will relate to something in my life or in my prayers, even if that’s not the exact way i’d pen it. and there’s the beauty of this exercise–making the Bible personal. much of the Bible is God’s Word to us, but the Psalms reflect humans’ words to God. so it’s beautiful to take another person’s prayers, draw from them, and make them your own.
here i’ll give you an example (in hopes that you might consider this exercise for yourself):
Lord, why are you so far away?
Why do you hide when there is trouble?
Proudly the wicked chase down those who suffer.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
They brag about the things they want.
They bless the greedy but hate the Lord.
The wicked people are too proud.
They do not look for God; there is no room for God in their thoughts.
They always succeed.
They are far from keeping your laws; they make fun of their enemies.
They say to themselves, “Nothing bad will ever happen to me;
I will never be ruined.”
Their mouths are full of curses, lies, and threats; they use their tongues for sin and evil.
They hide near the villages.
They look for innocent people to kill; they watch in secret for the helpless.
They wait in hiding like a lion.
They wait to catch poor people; they catch the poor in nets.
The poor are thrown down and crushed; they are defeated because the others are stronger.
The wicked think, “God has forgotten us.
He doesn’t see what is happening.”
Lord, rise up and punish the wicked.
Don’t forget those who need help.
Why do wicked people hate God?
They say to themselves, “God won’t punish us.”
Lord, surely you see these cruel and evil things; look at them and do something.
People in trouble look to you for help.
You are the one who helps the orphans.
Break the power of wicked people.
Punish them for the evil they have done.
The Lord is King forever and ever.
Destroy from your land those nations that do not worship you.
Lord, you have heard what the poor people want.
Do what they ask, and listen to them.
Protect the orphans and put an end to suffering so they will no longer be afraid of evil people.
Psalm 10 from my eyes
“Lord, why are you so far away” when I’m facing trouble? Why do you seem to be hiding? Lord, now is the time when I need you to rescue me–rescue my heart from this evil world. Our society is filled with evil, everywhere I turn: suffering of the innocent, the greedy prosper, the wicked brag openly about their misdeeds–they no longer fear the Lord. “They do not look for God; there is no room for God in their thoughts.” Lord, I am being affected by this–my heart is in turmoil and I look all around me at the assault that lies are having on Your people. Save us from this raging wickedness that is eating at our souls, at our values, at our identity. Restore us to our initial beauty, as we were originally made in Your image. Use me in this fight. Dress me with your armor and make me hate sin as you do. Lord, I know you will act–you will not “forget those who need help.” You see all these things so you will do something. You are our help, you are the One we look to in need. Lord, this world is yours, we are yours, I am yours. Redeem us all, restore us all, protect us and put an end to the suffering this world knows.
though it draws from the themes of the first, now it’s a message that i can relate to, that is relevant to my world and my season right now and the desires of my heart. i’m sure that in another year or even a month, i’d be inclined to write something different. but that’s another beauty about God and His Word–He is always meeting us right where we are, providing us just what we need, and taking us along to that next step.