When was the last time you read a psalm? If it was more than a week ago, then I have some thoughts to share with you. Like you, I used to not read the Psalms often. But there is always a psalm for everyone every day, and blessings whenever one reads and meditates on it. The Psalms belong to the genre of poetry. Yet, more than Shakespeare or Kipling, Tagore or Li Bai, in the Psalms God speaks to the depth of our souls and reveals the heights of his glory.
In the Psalms, the reader seeks the Lord:
Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water —Psalm 63
But be prepared — the Lord is actually waiting to meet you there!
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? — Psalm 139
How do I study the Psalms? My answer: don’t just study them. Let them speak to you. By all means, apply whatever bible study tools you have learned, but let the psalm speak to you. Confused? Let's say it this way: you may know a psalm technically — lots of commentaries are written about the Psalms to help you see the outline and grasp the context, and they even suggest an application or two for you. But until you have responded to it emotionally, you have not let it speak to you.
Many years ago, I had the privilege to preach a sermon from a psalm. As was my practice, I asked several from a cross section of Hermonites to give me their feedback. One of the most honest and beneficial comments I received was this: “...Psalms is one of the most difficult books of the bible to preach... it has to be conveyed with emotion...”. It took me a while to understand what the feedback meant. Then, one day, the truth dawned upon me as I was reading a psalm. When I begin to see beyond the text to the psalmist’s emotion, then am I able to connect to it emotionally. If you have a bible app, try searching for the number of times words like cry, my soul, joy, and shout occur in the Psalms, and you’ll know what I mean.
How do I maintain the discipline to read the Psalms regularly? Think of it as one of your daily food staples to maintain a healthy diet, or a health supplement to add to your diet — then, add a dose to your spiritual food intake by reading a psalm daily.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! — Psalm 34:8
In my struggle to maintain this discipline, I began to draw up a reading plan so that I knew which psalm I read on any one day, and that in about six months, I would have covered the 150 psalms. It is this: The Psalms are divided into six sets, a set for each month. For any day of the first month, from the 1st to 30th, start with the psalm of the same number as the day. For example, if today is the 13th of the first month, then read Psalm 13. For the next four months, add 30 for each month to the last psalm read. So, if today is the 13th of the second month, then add 30 to 13, and read Psalm 43. The third month would be Psalm 73, and so on. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm. So, in the plan, it is broken up into portions of eight verses each day in Month Six. You’ll see Psalm 119:97-104 read in the fifth month and repeated in the sixth month. It is to remind me of the benefits of God's Word. By the end of six months, you will finish reading the 150 psalms. And you can repeat the pattern in the next six months. If, on a day, you miss reading a psalm, it is OK. Do not be discouraged. You can read two psalms the next day. Or, use the 31st of a month to catch up. Or, on the sixth month, there are some eight days of buffer after Psalm 119 — use them to read those you missed, or to reread a psalm.
Give it a try. Start by praying and committing your reading plan to the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. You can also devise your own reading plan that suits you. The important thing is to start to plan, read, and keep at it.
— Dn Lee Pang Wee
View the reading plan on page 3 of this Herald: