We opened 2017 with what ended up being my favorite series in our short history as a church. The series, titled “Knowing God,” spent four weeks looking at four different Psalms (and to you J.I. Packer fans, yes the theme was a nod to his classic & awesome book by the same title).
One problem so many of us face in the church, especially in the south, is that we are over-exposed to religious routines while being under exposed to biblical truth. We are saturated with interesting facts about God from years of bible studies, Sunday sermons, and best-selling books. And we’ve mastered a moral code that guides us in proper behavior. And this is where many, many Christians stall out in their relationship with God. They know about God (the facts) and they know his commands (the rules) but that’s as far as it goes. But God has far more for us in this life than facts & rules. The goal of our series was to see how what we know about God can catapult us into knowing God himself! The Psalms, maybe more than anywhere else in scripture, teach us about God and at the same time demonstrate how we are to relate to him. Our goal was for our church to begin experiencing an awe-inspiring close relationship with God. By his grace, I really think we saw some breakthroughs. We’ll be sharing more stories in the weeks to come but without question this was a brief but important series for Mercy Church. I did want to share some resources for you that I found really helpful during the series that may be helpful for you if you want to investigate further.
- The Songs of Jesus by Tim & Kathy Keller. This is a short, easy devotional that will take you through all of the Psalms in one year. I picked it up in studying for the series and am actually continuing on with it even after we are done. One thing this series convinced me of is I need the joy and intimacy of God found in the Psalms each day. So, for now, I’m including a Psalm in my daily Bible reading. This resource is my guide through that.
- Knowing God by J.I. Packer. What can I say but that this is a must-read. Out of all in this list, Packer’s is the one I’d select if I had only one to recommend. His insights into the fickleness of the human heart, the love of God, and the intimate relationship God desires with us have been more helpful to me as a Christian than I can quantify. Most pastors and theologians alike will tell you to put this in your top 10. Written decades ago, it still sits weekly near the top of most Christian book best-seller lists.
- Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. In this short book (120 pages or so) Tozer breaks down the attributes of God and what they mean for us as we seek to know him personally. I found this to be a great resource in lifting my eyes and heart to a greater vision of the holiness and majesty of God. I’ve read this book about 6 times now and I can tell you it always challenges me to open my eyes to the greatness of the one true God and then to worship him out of that vision.
- The Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon. Ok, so this is a commentary by one of the greatest preachers ever. The reason it is to be prized is because not only did he give us his comments on every Psalm, but he also included his research from what other great minds in church history said about each Psalm. AND, he even dropped in some “tips for preachers” on each one. While written in 19th century British English, it is a gold mine of insight into the Psalms.
- Psalms – by W.S. Plumer. Plumer was one of those guys Spurgeon cited. This is a behemoth of a commentary (1200 pages) but it is rich with insight. This was actually my favorite resource in studying the Psalms. Plumer brings in commentary as far back as Augustine in pulling together his own ideas on each Psalm. Probably for the person who really wants to dive deep but wow it is strong. And FWIW, Plumer’s beard game was so strong.
- Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis. A different take on the Psalms as it doesn’t go Psalm by Psalm but instead draws out a handful of foundational ideas that run throughout the Psalms. It is somewhere between devotional & commentary because the book is short and accessible. So, don’t let my categorization of it scare you away.
I hope these help guide you through your study of the Psalms. To listen to our sermons from the series you can go to our sermons page.