Week Thirty Four: Psalms 49–51; 61–66; 69–72; 77–78; 85–86
My husband Steve and I were mission leaders in the Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission. When I first arrived in Brazil, I did not know Portuguese very well. I wanted to make sure that the missionaries and the saints knew how much I love the gospel of Jesus Christ but I could not express those feelings. So, I decided to choose a word and a phrase that showed my excitement for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word was “Woohoo.” The phrase, which I learned to say, was “Woohoo, O evangelho e restaurado!” In English, my mantra is “Woohoo the gospel’s true!” That is how I feel about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Psalms are also praises to God. The Hebrew title for the book of Psalms is Tehillim which means “songs of praise.” Words of excitement and positive energy are often expressed as the Psalmist tries to express his joyous feelings of love for the Lord. For many of these songs of praise, scholars do not know who wrote them. There are some of them which are attributed to King David.
As we have already read, King David liked to sing and dance. When David brought the ark back to his city: “David danced before the Lord with all his might…. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.”[i]
We’ve also read how David made some major wrong choices. He was called to repentance by Nathan, the prophet of the Lord, and he experienced great remorse and severe consequences for his sins, which affected his family and his country.
Psalms 64, 65, 66, and 69 are attributed to King David. As you read these Psalms, think about King David’s story of love for the Lord, wrong choices, and deep sorrow for his mistakes. These songs of praise have a lot of lamenting, but they also have sections of “woohoo” as well. Here are a few of them:
“The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.”[ii]
“Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it…. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.”[iii]
“All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name.”[iv]
“Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord”[v]
Realize that the psalms were often put to music and sung. Many of these beautiful psalms are a part of our hymns today. In our hymn book, the scripture references used for the words of the hymn can be found at the bottom right side of the page. For example, “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today”[vi] is taken from Psalm 16:9, 11 “There fore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope….Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore.”[vii]
While reading the Psalms, you will see the word “Selah” many times and you may wonder what that word means. Biblical scholars are not sure what Selah means. It is a musical term and most likely a direction to musicians either to get louder or to strike up an interlude between songs of praise. Since Biblical scholars do not know, have fun attributing a meaning to the word that helps you love the Psalms. I like thinking of the word as saying “Amen” to the words before it. Feel free to attribute a meaning to the word that describes your own feelings for the gospel, like Woohoo!
May you find joy in the Lord this week as you sing praises to him!
[i] 2 Samuel 6:14-15
[ii] Psalms 64:10
[iii] Psalms 65:9, 13
[iv] Psalms 66:4
[v] Psalms 68:32
[vi] Hymn p. 227
[vii] Psalms 16:9, 11