The great value of the Book of Psalms is that in it we have godly men stating their experience, and giving us an account of things that have happened to them in their spiritual life and warfare. Throughout history the Book of Psalms has, therefore, been a book of great value for God’s people. Again and again it provides them with the kind of comfort and teaching they need, and which they can find nowhere else. And it may well be, if one may be allowed to speculate on such a thing, that the Holy Spirit led the early Church to adopt the Old Testament writings partly for that reason. What we find from the beginning to the end of the Bible is the account of God’s dealings with His people. He is the same God in the Old Testament as in the New; and these Old Testament saints were citizens of the kingdom of God even as we are. We are taken into a kingdom which already contains such people as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The mystery that was revealed to the apostles was that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and citizens in the kingdom with the Jews.
It is right, therefore, to regard the experiences of these people as being exactly parallel with our own. The fact that they lived in the old dispensation makes no difference. There is something wrong with a Christianity which rejects the Old Testament, or even with a Christianity which imagines that we are essentially different from the Old Testament saints. If any of you are tempted to feel like that, I would invite you to read the Book of Psalms, and then to ask yourself whether you can honestly say from your experience some of the things the Psalmists said. Can you say, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up?” Can you say, “As the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God?” Read the Psalms and the statements made in them, and I think you Will agree that these men were children of God with a great and rich spiritual experience. For this reason, it has been the practice in the Christian Church from the beginning for men and women to come to the Book of Psalms for light, knowledge, and instruction.
The Value of the Psalms
Its special value lies in the fact that it helps us by putting its teaching chiefly in the form of the recital of experiences. We have exactly the same teaching in the New Testament, only there it is given in a more didactic fashion. Here it seems to come down to our own ordinary and practical level. Now we are all familiar with the value of this. There are times when the soul is weary, when we feel we are incapable of receiving that more direct instruction; we are so tried, and our minds are so tired, and our hearts may be so bruised, that we somehow cannot make the effort to concentrate upon principles and to look at things objectively. It is at such a time, and particularly at such a time, and in order that they (pay receive truth in this more personal form, that people who feel that life has dealt cruelly with them have gone-battered and beaten by the waves and billows of life-to the Psalms. They have read the experiences of some Of these men, and have found that they, too, have been through something very similar. And somehow that fact, in and of itself, helps and strengthens them. They feel that they are not alone, and that what is happening to them is not unusual. They begin to realize the truth of Paul’s comforting words to the Corinthians, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” – I Corinthians 10: 13), and that very realization alone enables them to take courage and to be renewed in their faith. The Book of Psalms is of inestimable value in this respect, and we find people turning constantly to it.