A sanctuary fills. The worship ministry leads the congregation, the Spirit moves, and hearts are prepared to hear a message from God’s Word. Then, the Scripture is spoken as it was intended to be. This is the usual flow of a modern worship service. When a church encounters the Psalms, however, such and order of service would be backward.
This is the one book of the Bible in which the lyricist does not have to adapt the text to fit music. Rather, music must be crafted that is appropriate for the text. Because the original purpose for many of the Psalms was corporate singing, the lyrics are the Scripture text! Moreover, these gripping texts serve incredible prophetic purposes. You can see the Spirit working through David’s musical background (1 Sam. 16, 2 Sam. 5) and through his experiences as a shepherd (Psa 23), warrior (1 Sam 17), and father (2 Sam 15) to deliver messages from God that were simultaneously immediate and futuristic.
David may not have realized it, but when he described the use of a hyssop plant in his gut-wrenching Psalm of repentance (Psa 51), he foreshadowed Jesus on the cross (Jhn 19:29). When he wrote Psalm 34 in thanking God for his deliverance from Abimelech, he foreshadowed Jesus’s crucifixion 300 years before the Roman Empire would develop crucifixion as we understand it today. You see, the Psalms were written for modern readers and singers just as much as they were for their original recipients. Today, we may observe a rich historical timeline of Psalms prophecies fulfilled and place our faith in the Messiah of Whom they foretold.
So, it is vital that musical renderings of the Psalms reflect their original intent. Imprecatory Psalms should be put to heavy metal. Psalms of lament should be in minor key. In the exact same way that it would be theologically inaccurate of a pastor to nonchalantly and dispassionately mumble the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57, it is theologically inaccurate to sing the text of Psalm 95 as though it were a funeral dirge!
We have arranged 3 of the Psalms for worship and have done so with regard to their original intent and context. We worked with Tommy Walker, Mike Harland, and Chamel Evans to provide a teaching video on the story behind each Psalm. These are all free at the link below. Furthermore, you can sign up to win free copies of the Explore the Bible 6 week study of the Psalms (including the 3 with worship arrangements) for your worship ministry or choir (up to 50 copies).
How does one properly speak the words of the Psalms in accordance with their original intent? One sings. So, take your worship ministry through the Psalms with Explore the Bible. Sing.
The sanctuary fills. The pastor gives a sermon from the Psalms, the Spirit moves, and hearts are prepared to sing. Then, the Psalm is sung as it was intended to be. When the Psalms are the message, the sermon is preparatory.