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Explaining the Psalms in Worship, for Worship

07. August 2017

Columns, Learn & Live,

  —Dennis J. Prutow

1. Psalm explanations are not Bible studies. They prepare people for worship and singing. Study and worship are two different activities. To be sure, the Psalms can be studied like other parts of Scripture. However, using the Psalms in worship requires a different perspective. God gives us the Psalms to guide us in the proper expression of our own hearts’ hopes, griefs, sorrows, and joys.

Informing the mind differs from preparing the heart. Psalm explanations may inform the mind but, more importantly, they should prepare hearts to sing. They should lead members of the congregation in expressing their own soul’s love for the Savior.

2. Psalms were written for congregational choirs. Many psalms have the superscription or title, “For the Choir Director.” The Psalms were written to be sung by the levitical choirs in the Old Testament temple during the morning and evening sacrifices. Today, “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). We are also priests of God: “Like living stones [we] are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Although psalms are of great encouragement to us as individuals, they are primarily designed for public, corporate worship. In the congregation we sing as individuals and lift our voices together with others. We sing to the Lord, we sing to ourselves, and we sing to others in the ...

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