By: Jeff Smith
Lent is a season for “simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to G-d.” upperroom.org/lent101
If we take the Lenten season seriously and use it to grow closer to G-d, we can utilize the advice of Jesus himself who knows the Psalms (hymns of praise) and uses them as life lessons. There are 150 Psalms, Ps 1 and Ps 150 are special to some, and most Christians know Ps 23 best.
Jesus references the Psalms on 11 occasions in the Gospels: (this list adapted from http://blog.biblia.com/2014/04/which-old-testament-book-did-jesus-quote-most/)
Recalling manna provided in the wilderness after feeding a multitude (Ps 78:24 in Jn 6:31). When Jews are to stone Him for blasphemy (Jn 10:30) ‘I am one with the Father’ (Ps 82:6 in Jn 10:34). To instruct the priests and teachers in the Temple (Ps 8:2 in Mt 21:16, Mk 12:36). In rebuke of the misguided priests and elders, who have ‘rejected the capstone’ (Ps 118:22-23 in Mt 21:42, Mk 12:10, Lk 20:17). Correcting the Pharisees regarding the descent of the Messiah (Ps 110:1 in Mt 22:44, Mk14:62, Lk 20:42-43). Lamenting over the fate of Jerusalem (Ps 118:26 in Mt 23:39, Lk 13:35). When revealing His imminent betrayal to the disciples (Ps 41:9 in Jn 13:18). When the Sanhedrin asks if He is the Messiah (Ps 110:1 in Mk 14:62, Lk 22:69). He was opposed with no cause, hated for no reason as the Psalms say (Ps 35:9, Ps 69:4 in Jn 15:25). From the cross He cites a Psalm ‘My G-d, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Ps 22:1 in Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34). And He commends his spirit by a Psalm ‘into Thy hands I commit My spirit’ (Ps 31:5 in Lk 23:46).
Jesus did not cite Ps 23 (“The LORD is my shepherd…) but He did identify Himself as the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11). Rev. Billy Graham reported that he read 5 Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs daily, touring those books once a month; he recommends this as a beneficial exercise for the spirit. There are 40 days of Lent, enough to read the Psalms (give a day for Ps 119, the longest!)
So, as we fast (in private, Mat 6:16) and pray (privately, Mat 6:5), pray to grow in spirit reading Psalms as Jesus did. Selah.
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