Thank you for joining with me once again this year on what is now my sixth consecutive year of producing and sending out a daily devotional. I am a college instructor and this year I start the year teaching a course on the book of Psalms. I thought it would fit right into my course preparations to focus my 2015 devotional on the Psalms, which of course have played such an important role in the lives of believers for centuries. Until I began to teach Psalms, I did not realize that there was a theme and that the order or progression of the individual psalms contributed to that theme. In other words, the editor of the book played almost as important a role as the authors of the psalms themselves.
The book of psalms is actually broken into five parts or books: Book 1 from 1 to 41: Book 2 from 42 to 72; Book 3 from 73 to 89; Book 4 from 90 to 106 and Book 5 from 107 to 150. Without going into a lot of detail, it is important for you to understand that the Book of Psalms was probably compiled and edited during the time when Israel was captive in Babylon during the sixth century BC so the sub-books were edited and added over time. Since the Jews were in Babylon for 70 years, we can assume that the entire book took shape over a 40-60 year period. We have no idea who the editors were. Of course the individual psalms were mostly written prior to that Babylonian exile.
Here is a general theme for each of the five books:
- Book 1 - How could this have happened to us? It's our enemy's fault; God, we want you to judge and destroy them.
- Book 2 - How could this have happened to us? Well, maybe we had a role in it, but it's still our enemy's fault. They hate us and therefore they hate you, Lord, as well. So we suggest, Lord, that You destroy them.
- Book 3 - You know, we may have had a role in our captivity. We have sinned, but surely our sins don't deserve all this. God, remember us and do what You did for us in days gone by when You rescued us from our enemies.
- Book 4 - This captivity is our fault. We have sinned, just like our forefathers. You are a great God and we remember all that you did for us as a people, but You are under no obligation to do it it again, except for Your grace.
- Book 5 - God is with us and in His mercy He is going to restore us to our land. We are preparing to return so we can worship, sing and serve the Lord in Jerusalem, our holy city! Our return is because He is gracious to His people and faithful to His word!
Now the summary above is simplistic and no one book exactly fits the description I have provided. Yet if you keep those themes in mind, the entire book makes more sense and you see that it is as much more than a collection of poems and songs. Of course, the psalms also point to the coming Messiah, and you will recognize that the Lord Jesus actually quoted these psalms as He endured His rejection and suffering. Therefore, the Book of Psalms is also a prophetic voice of and for the suffering Messiah. We now realize it is Him speaking in the psalms because we have the benefit of hindsight. The writers may or may not have known what they were saying when they penned those individual poems and songs.
Someone told me years ago that if you read one chapter from Proverbs every day that you will finish the entire book every month. That person also told me if you read five psalms every day, you will finish Psalms every month. This year I am recommending that you read those five psalms and I will take the daily verse or passge from one of those five psalms. If you don't have time to read all five psalms, then at least read the one from which I am quoting that day. If you don't have time to read one, then this devotional can give you a quick Bible study on its own. By the way, in the months that have 31 days, we will look at verses from Psalm 119, the longest psalm.
On each day, I will take one verse or passage from one of those five psalms and include another passage from another book of the Bible or a prayer for you to pray. I encourage you to have a journal close by while you read and pray to record your own insights and reflections. As usual, each day in my devotionals stands alone, so if you miss reading a day or a week, you can pick right back up where you left off and not have missed any of progression, because there is none.
I actually found it difficult to choose 366 verses from Psalms to use in this devotional because many of the psalms are short entries with one theme; the individual verses do not stand alone well without the others. Therefore some days will have a passage with multiple verses from a psalm while other days will feature only one verse from another. There are more than 2,400 verses in the entire book, and we will cover about 15-20% of them in this study.
Finally, I chose the title because it has a double meaning where the book of Psalms is concerned. On one hand, the psalms focus on the life struggles of both the community of Israel and its individuals. The psalms clearly show that all of life matters to the Lord as the people cry out to him in the midst of their fears, tribulations and confusion. On the other hand, the Psalms cover all the issues that matter in life, things like suffering, joy, weeping, victory, setbacks, frustration and worship. Thus life matters to the Lord and His people in the midst of all the life matters that they encounter in Him. You are reading the ancient psalms to apply the lessons to your life, thus the title Your Life Matters.
There you have an overview of what you will be receiving every day of 2015 if God will enable and empower me to write. I pray that this study will empower and enrich you when you need it most. I pray that God will take what I write, you will read it and then be able to think, "That was just for me!" It is my delight to provide these to readers the world over free of charge, but if God lays it on your heart, I would appreciate if you can help me cover the time and expense of producing this devotional. Thank you and may the Lord bless the reading and study of His word in 2015!