Summer Psalms Leftovers

I enjoy cooking. I like taking ideas from recipes and then adding my own spin to them. I enjoy figuring things out, sometimes with more error than success. I love the satisfaction of savoring a great tasting meal that I prepared myself. I like the creativity of the whole process. And when it’s all done, I enjoy finding new ways to use what’s left over.

Leftovers. I’m not too picky when it comes to leftovers. I’ll eat cold pizza straight out of the fridge. I’ll reheat marinara and meat sauce and put it over a piece of toast. It seems to me that lasagna for some reason often tastes better the second time around. And I love sandwiches and salads and rice bowls all made from leftover ingredients.

Leftovers are versatile, random, and hopefully nourishing, and that’s what this blogpost is. In our first post back from a summer break, I want to pick up a few leftovers from our Summer Psalms series, some ideas and thoughts and themes that never made it into the sermons, and serve them up. It’ll probably feel a little random—these three things below are not necessarily connected—but hopefully it will be encouraging to you as you read the Psalms on your own.


Years ago, I was visiting a church that had recently hired a new leadership team. I was on staff with a collegiate ministry at the time and I found myself standing in a circle of people, staff and leaders at this church, and hearing one of the church leaders say, “The church never sings songs to God, they only sing songs about God.” Another said, “We need more songs that say ‘You’ (that is, referring to God) in them.” And one of the new leaders said, “We’re going to teach these people how to worship.”

At the time, I remember disagreeing with not only the sentiment I was hearing (which sounded prideful both then and now), but also with the understanding of worship that I was hearing. While it is important to sing songs that are intentionally written to God, where the congregation is addressing God directly in their song, that isn’t the only biblical pattern for songs of worship. The hymnbook of the Bible, the Psalms, is filled with songs that are intentionally instructive in nature.

One of our psalms from this summer is a perfect example. Psalm 49 is included in the hymnbook of the Bible, but not once in this psalm will you find God addressed directly. Instead, Psalm 49 seeks to instruct the people of God in how to think about those who boast in their wealth and power and use it against God’s people. It’s calling God’s people to keep trusting in God despite the circumstances around them. It never says “You” to God, but it’s a biblical hymn. It’s teaching God’s people to trust in God and not fear their enemies.

I’m grateful that we sing songs at Mountain Creek that intentionally lead us to proclaim truth about God to one another in the congregation. Come every soul, by sin oppressed, there’s mercy with the Lord; and he will surely give you rest by trusting in his word. These aren’t words to God, but they’re words that Christians and non-Christians alike need to hear about God, and a biblical part of the worship is encouraging one another with these truths through song, just like we see in the book of Psalms.


The Psalms should be a regular part of the Bible intake of believers because the Psalms deal with so many different issues and emotions of daily life. Just this summer, we read a psalm that dealt with feeling abandoned by God (Psalm 44), and a wedding psalm (Psalm 45), and a call to trust in God in times of trouble (Psalm 46), and a psalm proclaiming God’s kingship (Psalm 47). We’ve been reminded that God is our guide forever (Psalm 48) and that wealth cannot save (Psalm 49). We’ve been confronted with our tendency to turn our faith into mere ritual (Psalm 50); we’ve seen how to repent after great sin (Psalm 51); we’ve thought about how to handle times when evil seems to win (Psalm 52).

Elsewhere in the psalms, you will read about faith in the midst of depression (Psalms 42 and 43). You will read about great joy (Psalm 96) and great sorrow (Psalm 88). The Psalms will give you some of God’s greatest promises for your life (Psalm 16:11 and 84:11), for your assurance of his presence (Psalm 18:2 and 46:1), for your comfort in times of fear (Psalm 56:4 and 56:11). The Psalms tell us about God’s Word (Psalm 119) and about God’s Son, which is the final leftover that I want to mention below.

But before we go there, let me just encourage this: read the psalms regularly. Read the psalms regularly because they regularly deal with the very things that you need in your daily walk with Christ. I find that the Psalms give the Spirit-inspired voice to offer my concerns, my emotions, my circumstances to God in prayer.


So maybe this isn’t exactly a leftover, because in each sermon we tried to clearly tie every psalm (and every other passage of Scripture) to Jesus, but I’m not sure that we covered it from a big-picture standpoint this summer, and that’s to say this: the Psalms are about Jesus.

As much as you’re able, read the Psalms with the New Testament running through your mind. The more you read Scripture, over months and years in God’s Word, the more naturally this will come to you, but you can begin now by reading the Psalms from a Bible with good cross-references. Look up those cross-references and see how often the New Testament quotes the Psalms, and in particular, see how often the Psalms clearly point to Christ.

From this summer, Psalm 45:6–7 is quoted in Hebrews 1:8 to be explicitly about “the Son.” And who is the “great king over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2)? Surely it is God, as Psalm 47 proclaims, but we should also read it with Revelation 17:14 in mind, where we read that Jesus “is Lord of lords and King of kings.” And we also saw that Psalm 44:22 is quoted in Romans 8:36, and that this New Testament passage is the key to understanding that Psalm in the light of Christ.

We could keep going, but the point is that we must read the Psalms through the lens of Jesus. According to Luke 24:44, the Psalms, like the rest of Scriptures, are about Jesus. So let us ask Jesus to open our minds to understand the Psalms (Luke 24:45) that we may worship him and proclaim him in response.

Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.