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Week 40: The Psalms - Living in The Story

Week 40: The Psalms

Much as there are five books of Torah, five books of Wisdom, and five books of the Major Prophets, the 150 psalms of the Book of Psalms also are organized into five books. The prayers and hymns of Israel that sang their faith were gathered, edited, and organized into the Psalter that Jews and Christians still use to this day. The arrangement of hymns seems to speak to the cycles of our lives with the poetry of our faith.

One thing we all know about life: it is messy. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with goodness and beauty and our hearts overflow with gratitude and thanksgiving. Other times, when we are overwhelmed with sorrow, pain, and injustice, our broken hearts cry out in complaint and lament.

Such was the experience of Israel as well. From the Golden Age of David and Solomon, into the long painful spiral of unfaithfulness, through the desolation of the Exile, then back to the devastated land and the hard work of rebuilding, the Psalms cycled through the highs and lows of the life of Israel.

In this process, the poems express the wide range of emotions within the human experience, not only in Israel’s story but in all our stories. What I think is particularly wonderful is that even the bitterest cry of a broken heart almost always cycles back around to praise . . .

These remarkable hymns testify it is not only we humans who praise; Psalm 148 suggests the Creator is enthroned upon the praises of all creation.

Praise him, sun and moon. Praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, fire and hail, snow and frost. Praise him, mountains and hills, wild animals and cattle.

Can you hear it? Rain, both wild and gentle, singing Creator’s song. Trees dancing and rustling with the music of the Creator. The majestic roaring of the beasts and the contented humming of the herds praising the Creator . . .

I love the notion that we are created to be people of praise, that praise is our core purpose, woven into our very cells. I love the idea that all creation is empowered to sing the song of the Creator in unity and in harmony.

I continue to hold onto hope that the church will come to understand our core purpose and to truly become people of praise, embodying this cosmic song in our flesh and in our bones.

And I hope we will continue to find all sorts of ways to sing God’s song of praise with joy and confidence into the cacophony of our world.

Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle, Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (Resourse Publications).

Living in The Story readings for Week 40

Jeremiah 5-24

Psalm 62

Psalm 70

Psalm 108

Revelation 7-9

Mark 2

Author: Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte lives and blogs in Paris TX. She is ordained within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and developed Living in The Story while doing doctoral work at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth. Charlotte also blogs about intersections of faith, politics, and culture at