The following is an excerpt from Pastor Josh’s recent sermon on Psalm 1
Have you ever been to a bookstore and seen an old classic book with a new cover and been tempted to buy it? And then you think, “I guess I should get the whole series with these sharp new covers.” And then, if you’re like me, you suddenly realize, this is the same book as the one I have at home, just with a new cover—I don’t need it. Unless you are a collector or something and you are into that kind of thing.
Sometimes, they will even alter the title a bit to grab your attention more. Actually, the book that some of our church women just went through on depression was given a new title with its reprint edition. It started as “When Spring Comes Late” and then the reprint was “Finding Your Way Through Depression.”
The book of Psalms too went through something like this. In the original Hebrew the title for the book of Psalms is “the book of praises,” not “Psalms.” The word “Psalms” is the English version of a word that comes out of the Old Latin Vulgate that has to do with songs sung to stringed instruments. But the original in the old Hebrew means “the book of praises.”
The content is all the same but like some reprints of classics, the title was altered over time.
While the change in title should not alarm us, I do think it is quite unfortunate. I feel as though maybe something was lost in the slight change of title. Maybe the Lord was saying something to us with the original title? Something that was lost over time as it went into Greek and then Latin and then English.
The Book of Praises Has a Profound Message
Did you know that the majority of psalms are not technically praises? In fact, the largest group of psalms in this little book are laments–they are people expressing their sorrow or grief or pain to the Lord.
Maybe that original title “book of praises” tells us something. Maybe it was telling us something very important—something that all of us should never forget. I think it is telling us that ALL of life, lived with God and for God, is a life of praise.
The Psalms give us an example of a people coming before God in all seasons of life. In the good, the bad, the ugly and the impossible. We find them coming in the moments of victory and in the moments of defeat. We find them coming to God in the highs and the lows, in the valley and on the mountaintop. We find them recalling the good times and the bad times before God.
The book of praises is filled with joy and sorrow–for God can and should be praised in both joy and sorrow. And certainly if you are a human being living on planet earth, you will most certainly be confronted with both joy and sorrow.
When we come to the book of praises, what we find is not a contrast between those who experience joy and those who experience sorrow. That is common to every person, even to our Lord Jesus.
What we find is a contrast between those who experience that joy and sorrow in relationship with God and those who experience joy and sorrow apart from relationship with God.
In the book of praises there really are two, and only two, ways to live: walking in God’s ways or walking in the ways of the world.