A Psalm by You
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn
As a Baptist, I have a very high view of Scripture. One of our primary distinctives is “Sola Scriptura,” the affirmation that the Bible is our final and only authority in matters of salvation and living the Christian life.
A high view of Scripture does not mean that the Bible goes on a top shelf and gathers dust. A high view of Scripture results in a well-worn, dog-eared, raggedy Bible. It’s to be used. It’s to be appropriated into one’s life. It’s to be grappled with.
A big reason why I am a pastor is because, as a graduating college student, I felt I didn’t know enough about the Bible. So I decided I needed to study it more, which is how I ended up in seminary. I didn’t have a call to the pastorate then—that came later during my seminary years.
Even though I’ve studied the Bible throughout my lifetime, even though I’ve read and re-read passages many times, I’m still not done learning. I still find deep meaning in the written Word of God—it never fails to speak in freshness and newness to my current situation. I pay special attention to passages that challenge my worldview, that go against my grain, that aren’t written the way I would write them. And I find myself encouraging others to interact with Scripture in a dynamic way, and to find it as nurturing and challenging as I do.
Pastor George and I will be preaching through the Psalms in the coming weeks and months. One of the ways I have encouraged kids and youth to interact with the Bible is to write their own psalm. Their creations may not reach the level of inspired Scripture, but they are honest expressions of their own feelings, describing what they know about God to be true.
Recently, using Psalm 23 as a template, Zoe O’N-P (10 yrs. old) did just that. She took something from her own world (not a sheep and shepherd, but a horse and rider), and imagined what she could say to/about God if she was the horse and he was the rider. She knows a lot about horses because she rides one every week. Here’s her poem:
The Lord is my Guide
He is in control.
When I buck against him
He calms me.
When I face an obstacle
He helps me jump.
He is with me;
He calls my name;
He steadies me.
Like many of the biblical psalms, this one names some eternal truths about God in a local context. It identifies the writer’s deepest needs: her fears, her independent streak that makes her lash out, and her desire for relationship. It calls upon a God who is present to take us further than we can go by ourselves.
As we are still in January, maybe still in the resolving stage of the year, I encourage you to interact with the Bible. Put yourself in Scripture. As you read, ask God to impress his Word upon your heart. Dog some ears of your own Bible. We have psalms by David and other named authors. Why not a psalm by you? Or draw your own artwork to God. You have something that you need to express to God. And maybe someone else will connect with your expressions, maybe your words or your art will impact someone else who is struggling to put into their own words their relation to God.
I look forward to connecting with the biblical psalmists as we go through our series. So often they speak to God for us. But I also look forward to God speaking back to us as we interact with the psalmists and with each other. God speaks through his Word. What will he say to you?