Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Join the Journey Through Psalms

Join the Journey Through Psalms

Any day now, the 2017 Columbia Union Calendar will arrive in your mailbox. Its theme is “A Journey Through the Psalms: Experiencing God, Grace and Growth in Real Time.” The calendar will highlight a different psalm every month accompanied by a practical assignment.

Psalms is comprised of spiritual journals---personal letters or prayers to God---in the form of poetry. And poetry’s function is not to explain or theologize but to offer images and stories that resonate with our lives. As I read them, I project myself back into their experience and ask, “Could I have prayed these prayers?” “Have I felt this particular anguish or outburst of joy?” “Do I have this same hunger for God?” And then I proceed to think through the situations in which I might pray the psalm in front of me: facing temptation, celebrating success, praising God, harboring a grudge, suffering an injustice. Under what circumstance would this psalm best apply in my life?

A Book About Relationship

Psalms gives us a comprehensive record of life with God through individually fashioned accounts of how the spiritual life works. They are not to be approached as a student wanting to acquire knowledge, but as a fellow pilgrim wanting to acquire relationship. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. More than any other book in the Bible, Psalms reveals what a heartfelt, soul-starved, single-minded relationship with God looks like.

Poetry works its magic subtly. We seldom turn to poetry to learn something. And if poetry is successful, we may gain something greater than knowledge; we may gain a transformed vision. They have transformed my spiritual vision and my understanding of relationship with God. I am continually amazed by the spiritual wholeness of the Hebrew poets who sought to include God in every area of life. They brought to God every emotion experienced in their daily activity---in real time. There were no walled off areas. God could be trusted with reality.

This process of letting God in on every detail of life is one we need to learn. Somehow these poets managed to make God the gravitational center of their lives. I sense in them a fierce urgency; a strong desire and hunger for God that makes my own spiritual life look anemic by comparison.

With the chosen calendar passages as our guide, I look forward to embarking on a yearlong study of the Psalms in 2017. And I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

Rob Vandeman, a pastor and administrator, serves as executive secretary of the Columbia Union Conference. Find and follow his monthly blog about Psalms at

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