Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do you preach from the Psalms?

Parishioner and campus minister Christina O'Hara pointed me to Why Preachers Must Preach the Psalms « Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown

Our parish home groups took on the Psalms this year... one group already bailed and is reading something else. It has been a formidable challenge for them and the linked piece gives some good insight into why.

The early Christians quoted the Psalms often and found them loaded with prophecies of Christ. Some of their allegorical interpretations could be too much of a stretch, and so over time a more literal reading of Scripture returned. This was needed, but because the Psalms are poetry a literal reading is very difficult. Not to mention our "modern" obsession with analyzing "context" and such - talk about taking the romance out of an evening!

In Anglicanism, the Daily Offices follow the Benedictine model and make extensive use of the Psalms as God-given prayer. Sunday-only Christians are not accustomed to this, and so preaching is impoverished.

Check out the link and see what you think.


Robin_G_Jordan said...

A lot can be found in the Psalms that is worth preaching. For example, the following verse comes to mind."If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to me."(Psalm 66:18 ESV)Unrepentented sin can become a serious barrier to prayer and communion with God. As an application the congregation might be asked to examine what iniquity are they cherishing in their hearts and why? They then could be invited to break off from that sin and counseled on what they can do to repent and maintain their repentance. The importance of faith to repentence should be stressed.

For a home group I would recommend studying selected Psalms instead of the whole Book of Psalms. My own experience in a home group that studied the Psalms suggest that the best approach to studying the Psalms in a home group is to study them devotionally, taking time to reflect upon a single Psalm in a meeting and what it reveals to us about God and our relationship to him, prayer, etc., and applying what we learn from this reflection to our own lives.

The Archer of the Forest said...

As a matter of fact, I preached on the Psalm this last Sunday.

Bill in Ottawa said...

Our priest did a series of four sermons through Advent and Christmas on Psalms 2,8,45 and 110. It was neat to hear him unpack the prophetic Psalms that point to how we recognize the Son of God and the Son of Man. He linked them in each sermon to the Gospel where Jesus gives his disciples hints as to His true nature.

We post Fr. George's sermons online at

TLF+ said...

I am so glad to see comments on this particular post!

Robin: very good point about focus on a particular Psalm. It is daunting for people to dive into a book without a plot or unifying idea, and some folks just ain't into poetry. They can become frustrated with trying to read from Ps. 1 thru 150 just as much as a person trying to read right from Genesis to Revelation.

Part of our effort has been to encourage regular reading of a few Psalms each day between the meetings - with an eye to discussing which Psalm/portion/verse spoke to each person and reflection developing from there.

Huzzah, Archer! As they linked article said, they are a great source for sermons... and we have Bill's comment verifying this "from the pew,"

Bill, that is just awesome and what a perfect season for your priest to preach from the Psalms! They were read prophetically by the early church and used by many great Christian thinkers to illustrate mysteries like the human and divine natures of Christ. You are blessed to have this kind of preaching.