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The Value of Studying the Psalms

I want to mention the very remarkable honesty with which the psalmists do not hesitate to tell the truth about themselves. We have a classic example in Psalm 73. This man admits freely that his feet were almost gone, his steps had well-nigh slipped.

He goes on to say that he was like a beast before God, so foolish and so ignorant. What honesty! That is the great value of the Psalms.

I know of nothing in the spiritual life more discouraging than to meet the kind of person who seems to give the impression that he or she is always walking on the mountain top. That is certainly not true in the Bible. The Bible tells us that these men knew what it was to be cast down, and to be in sore and grievous trouble.

Many a saint in his pilgrimage has thanked God for the honesty of the writers of the Psalms. They do not just put up an ideal teaching which was not true in their own lives. Perfectionist teachings are never true. They are not true to the experience of the people who teach them, for we know that they are fallible creatures like the rest of us. They put their teaching of perfection forward theoretically, but it is not true to their experience.

Thank God the Psalmists do not do that. They tell us the plain truth about themselves; they tell us the plain truth about what has happened to them.

Now their motive in doing so is not to exhibit themselves. Confession of sin can be a form of exhibitionism. There are some people who are very willing to confess their sins, so long as they can talk about themselves. It is a very subtle danger.

The Psalmist does not do that; he tells us the truth about himself because he wants to glorify God. His honesty is dictated by that, for it is as he shows the contrast between himself and God that he ministers to the glory of God.

~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones