Psalmody & Psalm Writing

Biblical psalmody is the work of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, psalmody is a gift of the Holy Spirit, probably best classified under messages of knowledge and wisdom, the first and second spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians, chapter 12. King David was the first psalmist, although only half of Biblical Psalms are attributed to him. Other psalms are attributed to Solomon, the sons of Korah, Asaph, Ethan, Heman the Ezrahite; Psalm 90 was even written by Moses. The ancient Israelites taught us how to have intimate, honest, and heartfelt conversations with God the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Biblical Psalms are the record of those prayers, shared with all believers to strengthen and edify their faith. Psalms are a blessing; they continue to speak to us today, addressing a wide range of human experiences and emotions, from aging and evil and death to war, sin, contrition, mercy, grace, love, and spiritual redemption. Psalms also contain prophesy about the coming of the Son of the God, Jesus Christ, as well as thanksgiving, praise, and worship to God Almighty. Lavish praise is the theme of many Psalms, applauding God for His righteousness, forgiveness, love, and faithfulness to the nation of Israel.

I Corinthians 14:26 refers to psalmody in the context of other spiritual gifts: “Whenever you come together, each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a language, or an interpretation. All things must be done for edification.” This quote strongly suggests that psalm writing was still an ongoing gift of the Holy Spirit in the early Christian church. Even today, psalm writing is practiced by some followers of Jesus Christ who have an interest in writing and praising the Lord. Psalms can be written by adults or children who want to exalt God. Writing a psalm is like giving God a gift. The Bible also says, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” Psalm writing is a powerful way of drawing nearer to Jesus Christ.

Guidelines for Writing Psalms

1) Start formally. Remember, you are addressing the Lord of all lords. So begin with a greeting such as “Abba Father,” “O King of kings,” or simply “O Jesus.”

2) Open your heart. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that our words are the “overflow of the heart.” Address an issue in your life honestly and thoroughly. Let it flow. Get it on paper. Don’t criticize or censor. The Holy Spirit will take over at some point. Let God do the talking through you. Then listen intently.

3) Find your own voice. Use BIblical Psalms as a guide. Develop your own style and poetic form. Don’t worry about rhyming. Biblical Psalms are in free verse, without rhyming. Use your own words and experiences. Disclose whatever is on your heart, even if it seems negative. Jesus was both God & man, so He understands our concerns.

4) Use metaphors & simile. Say, “Lord you are as high as a mountain” or “You are like a pure spring welling up from the rock.” When comparing God to earthly creations, also remember that He is beyond all forms and ideas. Use 'like' & 'as.'

5) Focus on God. Keep your eyes on Jesus. You have an audience of one, the King ofheaven & earth. His ear is fine tuned to hear the prayerful heart, especially cries of pain and repentance. Be open: His response may surprise and delight you.

6) Consult the Bible. The Bible is filled with allegories and metaphors. It contains the language of the Spirit. Study the most “poetic” gospels, including Psalms, Song of Songs, Ezekiel, John, & Revelation. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of psalm writing. Like Psalm 40, ask Him to “put a new song in my mouth.”

7) "Prime the pump." Use a line from scripture to get started, such as “love is kind” or “I waited patiently for the Lord.” Fill yourself with the Gospel. Your words will then begin to flow and move in unexpected directions. Yield to the Holy Spirit.


Psalm Prayer Index

I. To confess sin & ask forgiveness for sin:

Read or sing Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143

II. To obtain joy, gladness, hope, & forgiveness:

Read or sing Psalms 17, 25, 54, 67, 70, 71, 86

III. To praise God & declare thanksgiving:

Read or sing Psalms 105-7, 111-118, 135-6, 146-150

IV. To endure temptation & feelings of being abandoned by God:

Read or sing Psalms 22, 64, 69

V. To contemplate the Kingdom of Heaven when life seems wearisome:

Read or sing Psalms 42, 84, 63

VI. To receive joy in the midst of trouble & feelings of being abandoned by God:

Read or sing Psalms 13, 31, 44, 55, 57

VII. To praise God during times of peace & prosperity:

Read or sing Psalms 30, 34, 103

VIII. To praise God from the heart for His glorious commandments & laws:

Read or sing Psalm 119

From De Psalmorum Usu Liber by Alcuin of York



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