Often, when the weather is cooperating, I will find myself out-of-doors wandering in the garden, walking or running on the path, or just resting in the beauty outside. Personally, I love to run while listening to music. It helps me to let my mind wander so my legs can do the work. On the top of my playlist is City on a Hill, by Casting Crowns. The song tells a story, a story of truth, about a City perched on high, whose light fades because the inhabitants are divided by their differences. Though each individual is designed specifically for a purpose, which no one else could fill, the incompatibility seemed to be too much to keep the light shining.
Everyone of us is designed to lift up and encourage others so that our lights shine bright.
In one section the song reveals the way each person’s gift fits into the plan of the other. Rhythms of movement lead to rhymes that turn into the cadence of song and poem; and the voice of the poet, full of wisdom and grace, ignites the patriot heart of a soldier. The physical strength and stamina bound up in youth carries the aged, whose knowledge and understanding are united to narrate the story of life. The anthem of life roars from deep to deep with an echo for generations, where history is written and performed repeatedly. It shines brightly to tell a story, this city of life and of living, that exudes purpose and destiny.
It gets me every single time. I stop. I bow. I pray. I think of the prophetic truth which the retelling of generations of existence demonstrates.
I am amazed and I am humbled at God’s mercy.
The Book of Psalms pulls me in just the same way. The chapters in this book are a collection of stories, songs of praise, a plea for help, platitudes, a tribute and testimony to God. They show raw emotion, vivid imagery and transparent feeling. In Hebrew, the word for Psalms is Tehillim, which means songs of praise. In Greek the word Psalm comes from the word, psalmos, meaning a song which was performed with a harp. According to Matthew Henry, a Psalm is a “metrical composition” with the express purpose of being performed in music or song.
The Psalmist wrote real, wrestled raw, and bore out truth before the Lord. Admonishing His Holiness in reverence and rebuking, even, His timeliness in answering the prayer from their lips. David is attributed as the author of most of the Psalms. The Bible declares he was a man after God’s own heart. I love reading about David. He was deeply emotional, moved to moments of extreme praise, and times of deep sadness. He would dance for joy before the Lord and fight with strength of power that pointed solely to God. He was also really good at messing up.( He was human) And though many times he was willfully broken, yet still, God favored Him. His compassion towards David was unending, and His grace and mercy were unfailing. David wrote about it all.
In His poems of praise and anguish, David wrote straight from His heart.
My husband and children will openly declare that I am not a ‘funny’ person, though there are times I try. The problem is my sense of humor is not as easily understood by the wonderful people I live with. What I think is funny, isn’t always as easily digested as something my children find humorous and vice versa. Because I prefer the quiet and solitary, sometimes I have to really TRY to have fun or be funny.
I was asked once, “What is one thing you don’t regret doing with your children?” or “What do you think you have done right?” Instead of asking the obvious question, “What is one thing you know you have done wrong?” The answer to the second question would have me grabbing pen and paper, without extra thought, to craft a list of definite mistake moments. The question of what I have done with no regret threw me off track and made me think. It only took a few moments, which surprised me, but I realized there is one thing I will never regret, and that is dancing with my kids. When the music is blaring, we always have a blast pretending we know what we are doing, but mostly just laughing. Dancing with abandon and joy for the moment is worth the smiles I see on their faces and I know that a memory has been made.
Dance with Abandon!
Did you know that when you dance you are also,usually, smiling, and sometimes laughing? It is contagious. It is freeing, and the feeling of abandon brings my heart to a place of worship before God. It is in that place of surrender and reality that The Psalmist writes.
Write with surrender.
Many of the Psalms are written from a place of extreme. As I read, I see the Psalmist question God, man, and even himself, to look at and question, examine and reveal, the depth of his heart. Many psalms plead for God’s mercy and cry out for His grace. Some verses actually shout to the cruelty of life, quite candidly. And suddenly, the next verse reveals a change of heart. The writer is actually dancing with his words, singing for joy at the surprising beauty of living.
The Psalms are songs, prayers and histories, waiting to be brought to life in full light and revelation of the moment. Hidden within or displayed in full splendor are directions, advice and wisely patterned melodies to help us remember Truth, Hope, and Faith are tied to our soul’s identity.
The song reveals the promises of God’s Word attached to our Soul I.D.
Whether I am skipping through the shadows of the verse, ingesting large amounts all at once, or if I am slowly treading my way through the Word, taking small bites to savor and relish, I am challenged to remember the Holiness of God. I remember how important it is to praise him at all times. In every season, good and bad, joy or sorrow, illness or health, in poor times or rich abundance… we NEED to Praise the Lord, because He is GOOD!
I am learning, over and over, as I camp out in Psalms that we must come to God just as we are, honestly with our hands open and our heads bowed. He knows the depth of our heart, a knowledge even we don’t understand, and yet He loves us.
Like the song, where the poet’s words ignite the fire in the patriot’s heart, the Psalmist lights the fire of praise and worship in the heart of the reader.
I want to encourage you to spend time looking and learning from the prayers placed there for you to sing in your own soul. One of my very favorite verses is in Psalm 24:7. It says, “Who is this King of Glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” It makes me wonder how I can, with mere words, bring Him honor fitting His station, this King of Glory, strong and mighty. Read the rest of this Psalm below. Take time to ponder the beauty of His Holiness and write a song of praise to the King.
The Earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend to the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this king of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.
The One who calms the seas and paints the stars;
the majestic wind-sender whose chromatic scale defies the greatest imagination with wonder;
He who created all we see,
waits for us as gate keepers to allow HIS entrance.
Be a Gate-Keeper ushering His presence IN!
Praying a song will rise up in your heart and the words will spill forth on to the page!
Be a Gatekeeper to the Everlasting Doors of God’s Righteousness!
The Story Behind Casting Crowns song, A City on a Hill.
Download a Journal A Song journal page to help you continue your journey through Psalms.
I encourage you to share some of your thoughts with me in the comment box or feel free to email me at email@example.com.