I think by now readers of this blog will have discovered that I enjoy posting a daily ‘psalmtweet’. I run through the Psalms, one per day, in canonical order. I am on the home run now for my third journey through the Psalter. My key objective is simply to use this as a spiritual discipline. The term psalmtweet is not my invention, although I have followed the daily practice longer than most. Ben Myers @FaithTheology originated the term and his psalmtweets are of a remarkably consistent theological and literary quality. Mine are somewhat more mixed. Myers’ project is, I think, to provide a tweet for each psalm with the goal of summarising each psalms key message/thrust/point succinctly, poetically and eloquently. My efforts sometimes attempt this, sometimes connect with my personal circumstances, connect with another text or simply home in on a key verse.
To illustrate these different approaches I have chosen 10 psalmtweets, from my last 100! Below. I have chosen them on the basis of retweet and favouriting frequency. I have added a brief comment to explain what I was attempting to do.
The journey from waiting in anguish to joyful praise, however long, turns upon trusting in Yahweh the faithful.
This tweet not only captures the flow of this psalm, but the basic journey of the life of faith described throughout the Psalter. In this life, though we find so much blessing from God, there are numerous times when we face difficulty. This can be the general problems of being human in a fallen creation or the challenge we face when we stand up for the gospel. the stance we should take in adversity is one of confident trust in Yahweh. The psalms are a key asset for us on this path.
When Yahweh is your shepherd you lack nothing;
Goodness pursues you everywhere.
May He lead and comfort you.
It seems bordering on the inappropriate to tweet this psalm, however, the goal of all of these efforts is not replacement but a pointing to, and reflection on the original.
This tweet is a reminder that despite the Psalms being both prayer and worship, one of their most helpful achievements if to teach us about the nature and character of Yawhweh the God of Israel and creator of the universe.
I praise you Yahweh, for you have lifted me up.
You have brought me back into your life-giving presence.
The simple truth of this psalm can enable us to look upon a specific recent experience or that decisive moment when we owned Christ for the first time. The psalms themselves function to enable this connection and relationship with the living God.
And so the first book of psalms concludes:
Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.
This is a direct quote from psalm 41.So often these sorts of snippets within the psalms are ignored, but I think they are essential for seeing marvellous work of the editors of the Psalter. It is these nameless collectors who gave us this canonical gift.
O Yahweh, God most high, be not silent we pray.
Instead may you rise up in a tempest against those who rage against your people.
One of the challenges to modern sensibilities is the emotional rawness of a lot of the language of the Psalms. Such prayer language is arguably essential for our honesty as emotional beings and a way forward for dealing with the same. The petitions of the psalmist are generally tempered, as here, by asking God to deal with the enemies and/or oppressors.
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
Our springs of joy are in Him.
A poetic reworking of the imagery of this psalm. The conciseness and language is meant to promote a closer engagement with this psalms and just what it might be claiming.
Dwelling and shelter.
A shade to abide under.
A fortress of refuge.
A shield from terror.
Yahweh our protector.
Like so many psalms this one focuses on how we can be found in Yahweh. This language prempts the remarkable claims of the NT and what it means to be in Christ.
The tides are ordained by God.
The coast erodes year by year.
Yahweh, creator, only you have no beginning or end.
This psalmtweet picks up on the language of the psalm and focuses on Yahweh as both creator and sustainer. It also hints at the ‘natural processes’ that work in creation. As a scientist and Christian I delight in the scientific project to understand the mechanisms of creation without seeing a conflict with the claims of Scriptural revelation about God, us and the created order.
Whether we sing a new song or not, the seas, rivers and mountains will do so. For wonders He has done.
The response of creation to our God, described in this psalm, puts us in perspective. Whilst the human race might be central to the very point of creation, each of us individually is a very small part of this plan. This is no denial of our individual value, but an an important reminder about our significance.
If you are interested in the idea of psalmtweets you can find a number of such projects on twitter:
Mark Wagner @DrMarkWagner is almost at end of his tweeting the whole Psalter as haiku poems.
Steven Robertson @OtisRobertson is on second journey through the Psalter.
Marc La Porte @mlaporte74 is in Book II now.
Patrick Hoffman @HoffmaNomad4 is two-thirds through.
And don’t forget Ben Myers @FaithTheology or why not have your own take on psalmtweets? If you do have a go using #psalmtweets will help others find your contributions.