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So yesterday I shared some thoughts on preaching the prophets.  How about another list on the Psalms?  Why do I enjoy preaching them?

1. They are self-contained.  A psalm is a complete unit of thought.  It may be part of a short collection, so it is worth looking at those before and after.  It may give a historical clue in its superscription, so it is worth looking at that and chasing the history if there is anything suggested.  But essentially with a Psalm I know what I need to study and prepare . . . the psalm.

2. They are real and messy.  Life isn’t all clean and simple.  Life gets messy.  Emotions soar and plummet.  Situations overwhelm and resolution of tension can utterly delight.  The Psalms don’t pretend we are unfeeling stoical creatures.  We might, but the Psalms remind us to be real.  Not only does this make for preaching that sounds real and not just some sort of religious talk, but it also connects because listeners are also living real rather than merely religious lives.

3. They are emotive and heart-felt.  As a communicator I know the danger of adding emotional thrust to cold sterile content.  It can be very manipulative.  But I also know the danger of sterilizing powerful biblical texts into safe little life lessons.  Oops.  The Psalms are sitting up to be preached with a full heart to those who have a feeling heart – whether that be pain, or joy, sorrow, or delight.

4. They are full of imagery.  I don’t have to look endlessly for imagery to add to a message when I’m preaching from the Psalms.  It is usually right there.  I need to spend that energy on the text and then on effective description and presentation, but then I can have confidence that the imagery choice was made by God’s Spirit rather than me.

5. They are always relevant.  When people have lived the Christian life for a while, they typically end up appreciating the Psalms.  The rugged rawness reflects their own personal experience.  It tends to be the less mature who can’t get into the Psalms.  So as I preach them, I can have confidence that nerves will be touched, hearts will be stirred, lives will be helped.

I haven’t even mentioned the messianic hopes, the glimpses into the godhead, etc.  Ah well, I will stick with the five I put in the title.  Just a nudge in case you’ve forgotten to preach from this great collection.



Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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David Mende

commented on Jun 20, 2012

Good article. I agree with all the five points that Mead talks about in this article. Right now, I'm doing a series on the book of Psalms. So far, I've preached on twenty three psalms. Our church has been tremendously blessed thus far through this series. As a preacher, I am blessed by preaching on psalms and I can testify that it is having a tremendous effect on my spiritual life.

Keith B

commented on Jun 20, 2012

Good article. I'm thinking I may do Psalms next after I finish my current series in Ephesians.

Suresh Manoharan

commented on Jun 21, 2012

An edifying article with wonderful practical insights. Besides other pluses', Psalms also make for "easy to digest" spiritual food for new Christians. One caution please...on the flip-side, Psalms can make one remain a Baby christian feeding "on milk" for a longer time than necessary, missing out on solid "meat" of the rest of the Scriptures. Nothing quite like recommending a "balanced diet" when it comes to "feeding" the congregation.

Pat Cook

commented on Jun 21, 2012

I am about to start a series - Summer in the Psalms. My hesitancy is that based on my understanding of the New Covenant, some things are just not true anymore. Lest you label me a heretic too quickly, for example, Psalm 103:13 - "the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him." The good news is, the Lord has compassion on everyone, not just those who fear Him. In fact, He had compassion on us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. So I understand the role of poetry and emotion in writing and interpreting the Psalms, but some things are just not accurate through a lens of the New Covenant.

John E Miller

commented on Jun 30, 2012

This is a good and very helpful article, based on the truth of God's word. It is not true to say that some things in the word of God are not true anymore. Psalm 103:13 does not say," The Lord ONLY has compassion on those who fear Him." That is a misinterpretation of the word. God in His sovereignity has compassion on whom He will have compassion. Romans 9:14-18 explains this very clearly. He may not choose to have compassion on some and there are many scriptures which solemnly demonstrate this truth.

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