Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs


30, April, 2020Posted by :Zach Ellsworth

Within the pages of the Bible, no book is quoted more than the book of Psalms. And of course it is. First—and maybe most obviously—the book of Psalms is a big book. It isn’t necessarily the BIGGEST book (Jeremiah takes the cake there), but it covers the widest range of experiences. It speaks of the highest highs and the lowest lows. It speaks of God’s mighty deeds, his saving power, and his tender love. It speaks of sin: our own and those committed against us. It speaks of idolatry and faithfulness. It speaks of our need for a Savior, then speaks of him. In other words, there’s no shortage of applications to be found in the poetry of the Psalms.

Which brings us back to my very first sentence: within the pages of the Bible, no book is quoted more than the book of Psalms because it is so broadly applicable. But it occurred to me this morning as I considered the Psalms (for the daily devotional videos I’ve been posting for our students) and as I think about the hymn “It Is Well” (for this Sunday’s sermon) that there might be something else that has made the Psalms so quotable.

The Psalms were so quotable because they were sung as songs. They didn’t merely speak, they sang. And as they were sung, the words and melodies, melodies which have been lost to us, spread their roots. And so, when Mark or Matthew or Paul—or even Jesus himself—went through a day, the Psalms were always at their fingertips. 

It isn’t a coincidence that the most cited book of scripture is also its book of music. God made us as musical creatures. We sing to celebrate and mourn. We sing to teach and learn. We sing for love and hatred. Songs have a way of reaching our hearts that isn’t always true of plain speech.

It should come as no surprise then, that God has always been in the business of shaping people through songs.

As we take continue to look more closely at some classic hymns, it is worth remembering this truth. If you desire to follow God more closely, then you must remember what he has said. And if you desire to know what he has said, you could hardly do better than singing his songs. He gave his people 150 of them to shape their thoughts and color their speech. And thanks to the work of many brothers and sisters in Christ, many more songs have been written to help us hide God’s Word in our hearts.

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