The Psalms have always been central to the worship, liturgies, prayers, devotions, and songs of countless Christians across the centuries. In the Psalter one can find cries of joy and pain, brokenness and rage, helplessness and confidence. In other words, the voices in the Psalms are real, very real, and in their heart-felt transparency lies a great deal of their popularity and importance. They teach us how to pray, how to grieve, how to rejoice–i.e., how to live as believers in the real world with its ups and down.
Here’s how Luther more eloquently summed up the great value of the Psalms in the believer’s life:
Every Christian who would abound in prayer and piety ought, in all reason, to make the Psalter his manual; and, moreover, it were well if every Christian so used it and were so expert in it as to have it word for word by heart, and could have it even in his heart as often as he chanced to be called to speak or act, that he might be able to draw forth or employ some sentence out of it, by way of a proverb. For indeed the truth is, that everything that a pious heart can desire to ask in prayer, it here finds Psalms and words to match, so aptly and sweetly, that no man—no, nor all the men in the world—shall be able to devise forms of words so good and devout. (from Luther’s 1545 Preface to the Psalter)
I love to read from the Psalms each day, but still I long to be more familiar with them than I am. With this in mind, I began my Personal Psalter Project earlier this week. I purchased a Moleskine notebook and have begun copying, by hand, one Psalm per day until I have copied all 150. I am copying them from the New Living Translation, which is my favorite translation, but am taking advantage of the luxury of a single-column setup to take advantage of my own formatting, using different levels of indention to really make the parallelism stand out (similar to what is done in the excellent Psalter layout in God’s Word translation). In addition, the extra space gives me room to make notes about Hebrew/LXX vocabulary, alternate translations, or personal thoughts.
I will post additional thoughts, as well as some pictures, as this project continues.