Martin Luther encouraged praying the Psalms by providing the common people with singable versions of metrical psalms in their own language.
He acknowledged that,
the common and ancient custom of the Christian church [was] to sing Psalms. St. Paul himself instituted this in I Corinthians 14:15 and exhorted the Colossians [3:16] to sing spiritual songs and Psalms heartily unto the Lord so that God’s Word and Christian teaching might be instilled and implanted in many ways.
(Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship: Reformed According to the Scriptures, (Atlanta, Georgia: John Knox Press, 1984), 48.)
As early as 1537 the Strasbourg Psalter included vernacular versions of all one hundred and fifty psalms.” Luther turned six Psalms into evangelical song (12, 14, 67, 124, 128, 130, and then later Psalm 46).
Hughes Oliphant Old claims that “Martin Luther did as much as anyone to revive and popularize psalm singing in the sixteenth century.”
Behold, Lord, I am an empty vessel
that needs to be filled.
My Lord, fill it.
I am weak in faith; Strengthen me.
I am cold in love; Warm me and make me fervent
that my love may go out to my neighbor.
I do not have a strong and firm faith;
at times I doubt and am unable to trust You altogether.
O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in Thee.
In You I have sealed the treasures of all I have.
I am poor; You are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.
I am a sinner; You are upright.
With me there is an abundance of sin;
In You is the fullness of righteousness.
Help and forgive me, O Lord,
for my only hope is in You. Amen.
Martin Luther leading family worship.
On Sunday, October 29th, we will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We remember on this day that Martin Luther began a process that resulted in the recovery of the biblical gospel. Many congregations will recall the efforts of Martin Luther and will sing his famous hymn based on Psalm 46 entitled “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
When Luther needed encouragement, comfort and strength to face the many afflictions and trials that came upon him, he would frequently go to Psalm 46 for courage.
He himself explains why he would regularly sing Psalm 46 during times of trouble:
“We sing this psalm to the praise of God,
because He is with us
and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends
His church and His Word
against all fanatical spirits,
against the gates of hell,
against the implacable hatred of the devil,
and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”
How have believers in the past proclaimed the gospel to their own hearts?
Why not reflect on the examples below and then write out your own summary of the gospel? Then use it as a tool in spiritual battle when you are plagued with a sense of condemnation, shame, and guilt:
1. The Apostle Paul recounts the stunning grandeur of the gospel throughout his life like this:
- Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
2. John Newton captures the simple beauty of the gospel when writing as an 82-year-old man: “My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior of sinners like me.”
3. Bono: “Grace, she takes the blame; She covers the shame; removes the stain; Grace makes beauty out of ugly things!”
4. Jack Miller: “Cheer up and smile! You are more sinful and flawed that you ever dared imagine, yet at the same time you are more loved than you ever dared to dream because Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death for you.”
5. YOU: How about you?
A Greater than David is here!
We have probably little idea how much deep truth is contained in the book of Psalms. No part of the Bible perhaps is better known in the letter, and none so little understood in the spirit. We err greatly if we suppose that it is nothing but a record of David’s feelings, of David’s experience, David’s praises, and David’s prayers. The hand that held the pen was generally David’s. But the subject matter was often something far deeper and higher than the history of the son of Jesse.
The book of Psalms, in a word, is a book full of Jesus Christ—Christ suffering—Christ in humiliation—Christ dying—rising again—Christ coming the second time—Christ reigning over all. Both the advents are here—advent in suffering to bear the cross—the advent in power to wear the crown. Both the kingdoms are here—kingdom of grace, during which the elect are gathered—the kingdom of glory, when every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Let us always read the Psalms with a peculiar reverence. Let us say to ourselves as we read, “A greater than David is here.”
The lovely words of the Irish hymn-writer, George Croly
serve as a simple reminder of why we desperately need the Holy Spirit
poured out upon us:
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.
- According to Romans 8, when the Spirit descends upon our hearts,
He rivets our attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His work
for us on the cross.
- When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He produces in us the
family trait of holiness by granting us the desire, determination and
discipline to reject and kill sin.
- When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He assures us of our sonship
and of our permanent gift of eternal life.
Martin Luther explains:
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us,
death thunders at us, the devil roars at us.
In the midst of the clamor,
the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
This little cry of the Spirit transcends
the hullabaloo of the law, sin, death, and the devil
and finds a hearing with God.
- Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “Lord and Giver of Life!”
The below is a part of a letter I wrote my son on his 12th birthday. His 21st birthday is coming soon. My prayers for him have not changed…
Son, you are beginning your journey towards manhood. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
According to this verse, becoming a man involves mental alertness, spiritual resolve, and strength of character. In light of this, I pray that you might become …
- A man in whose life Christ has the first place (Colossians 1:18)… that you would enthrone Him as King of your heart. I want you to love and treasure Him more than anything or anyone else. Also, I want you to marry a woman who loves Him more than she loves you. If that’s the case, your life will be greatly blessed.
- A man who listens to, delights in, and treasures God’s Word as a lamp for your feet and a light for your path (Psalm 119:105). May God’s Word and God’s holiness be the standard by which you evaluate your life and make your decisions. It will be easy to make what other people are doing the standard. You are going to experience temptations, trials, and joys. God’s Word will be a sure and reliable guide over the peaks and through the valleys!
- A man who wisely chooses friends who will sharpen you and not dull your sensitivity to the Lord and His leading in your life (1 Corinthians 15:33).
- A man who flees all forms of sexual immorality because you know that God’s Spirit inhabits your physical body. My prayer is that you please and glorify the Lord with your body by reserving the full expression of your sexuality for your wedding night (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
- A man who intentionally honors God with your mind (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word).
- A man who is committed not to awaken love until it’s time (Song of Solomon 8:4)…that you will guard your heart in your relationships with young women (Proverbs 4:23)…that you will resolve to help your friends who are women to protect their hearts as well.
- A man whose life is marked by radical humility, sacrificial service, and bold risk taking in the service of your Lord (Philippians 2:3-4; 5-8; 21-30).