The book of Psalms is an immensely significant part of the Scriptures. There are many reasons for this but one struck me in particular this week as we looked at the subject of mission in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature.

My daughter is learning to talk at the moment. I could write a whole stream of posts on what I am learning about language from her (in fact – I think I will; watch this space!). One of the things that shapes her language development is what she hears and sees repeated again and again. She is immersed in certain words and phrases (‘daddy’, ‘mummy’, ‘bye-bye’, ‘dog’, etc.) and it is this repetition that informs her view of the world.

It’s the same with the songs we sing on a Sunday morning, isn’t it? We may not realise it but worship songs are remarkably influential in shaping our theology and experience as disciples of Jesus.

And so it is with the Psalms. These prayers and songs that the Israelites would have prayed and sung over and over and over again were fundamental to how they conceptualised and experienced God in the world. So when we consider the missional significance of the Psalms we must ask, ‘How is this text that was repeated again and again shaping the person or community that prays or sings it?’ The basic point of this is not new to me but I’d never really considered the power of repetition in this context.

As a class we went for a wander around Redcliffe’s grounds and read aloud to each other from the Psalter. These are some snippets from what we read together:

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. (Psalm 8:1, ESV)

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1)

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:1-5)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:1-3)

Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 117)

These are some of the ways in which the nations feature in the Psalms. How would they (or should they) have shaped Israel’s attitudes and theology? And what about C21 believers? How do the songs we sing and the prayers we pray develop the missional shape of our lives?

I’ll leave it there for now and do a separate post on the Wisdom Literature before my post of week five. If you are around at 11am to 1pm come and join the conversation at www.twitter.com/redcliffeuk . My thanks to Brian Russell for doing so on Monday. Check out his excellent blog, which this week featured a post on a missional reading of Psalm 2.

One thought on “Biblical Basis of Mission course – week four

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