«Preface My Psalm Testimony is a revival of the ancient Hebrew tradition of giving public praise to God for His special blessings upon His people. ...»
MY PSALM TESTIMONY
By J. Carl Laney, Th.D.
"My Psalm Testimony" is a revival of the ancient Hebrew tradition of giving public
praise to God for His special blessings upon His people. This book is designed to prepare
Christians to publicly praise God for His attributes, provisions and deliverances.
As a believer in Christ, you have no doubt accepted many blessings from Him
without the opportunity to publicly thank and praise Him. With this guidebook you will learn how easy it is to share a personal experience of how your life has been changed by a special intervention from God.
This newly revived form of public worship requires no special poetic or musical talent on your part. As long as you can read and write and know a musical director or musician who is willing to provide assistance, you have all the skills necessary.
Many people have become excited to see the restoration of the ancient tradition of publicly praising God for His unmerited favor upon His children. To this end some special individuals have enthusiastically given their time, talents and encouragement. I want to express my appreciation to Gordon Borror for suggestions on content and format, Ted Nichols for his contributions on musical accompaniment and John Bradley who first conceived of writing this guidebook and initiated the project.
During my years of teaching the Bible I have used the basic lessons in this book to prepare my students to write their own Psalm Testimony. I believe this publication will enable many of God's people to experience the excitement and joy of publicly praising God for His special blessings and interventions. It is my hope that this guide will better enable God’s people to glorify the Lord through the biblical pattern of praise. Hallelujah!
J. Carl Laney My Psalm Testimony
1. INTRODUCTION: THE CREATION OF A PSALM 3
2. GETTING INTO THE BOOK OF PRAISES 9
3. ANCIENT PATTERNS OF PRAISE 14
4. PSALM OF GOD'S ATTRIBUTES 17
5. PSALM OF GOD'S PROVISIONS 20
6. PSALM OF GOD’S DELIVERANCE 24
7. WRITING YOUR OWN PSALM TESTIMONY 29
8. PSALMS OF MY STUDENTS 35
9. PUTTING YOUR PSALM TO MUSIC 41
10. PRESENTING YOUR PSALM TESTIMONY 44
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY 47J. Carl Laney My Psalm Testimony
It was one of those "burnt toast" days for David. Nothing seemed to be going right.
It all began with Saul's jealousy over the new hit song being sung throughout Israel:
Sure, David had seen some great victories. His defeat of the Philistine giant Goliath was something to write home about! But David had never intended to make King Saul look bad. His goals were honest and humble. He simply wanted to exalt his mighty God! But Saul had taken it all wrong. His jealously over David's success had turned Saul against the one who had served him so faithfully.
Knowing that his life was in grave danger if he remained in Jerusalem, David fled north to Nob (1 Samuel 21). There he received encouragement from Ahimelech, the priest. He left Nob with a provision of bread and a weapon--Goliath's sword! This mighty weapon had been in storage at the Tabernacle since Israel's victory over the Philistines.
This sword served as a reminder that God's people must not rely upon horses, chariots, and weapons of war, but upon the Lord Himself.
Taking his provisions and weapon, David fled from Saul's territory and journeyed southwest toward Israel's coastal plain. He wanted to put as much distance as possible between him and his royal foe. Why David entered Philistine territory is unknown.
Perhaps he thought he was safer among the Philistines than in Israel where he could be attacked by Saul.
David eventually found himself in the city of Gath (2 Sam. 21:10). Gath, located in the coastal plain about ten miles from the Mediterranean, was one of the five cities of the Philistines. The city is best remembered as the home town of the giant Goliath (1 Sam.
17:4) whom David had slain with a sling and stone in the Elah Valley.
I wish we knew what David was thinking about when he passed through the gates of the walled city of Gath. My guess is that he was thinking something like, "Maybe I'll be safe here. I just hope that no one recognizes me." Well, they might not have recognized David had he not been wearing Goliath's mighty sword!
When it became clear to David that his identity could not be concealed, he immediately realized that he was in grave danger. First Samuel 21:12 reports that David
"feared Achish king of Gath." The king had David in his custody. And there was no way to escape the walled city of Gath. All the king needed to do was to issue the command and his soldiers would have David executed.
What was David to do? He could not flee. And to fight would mean certain death at the hands of the Philistines. As his mind raced over the options, David decided to take a chance. He would try play acting. Perhaps he could convince the Philistines that he was a harmless lunatic. If so, they might release him.
David began playing the part of a madman. The Philistines watched with interest as he grunted his way through the crowds toward the city gate. Picking up a dirt clod or piece of charcoal, David scribbled something incomprehensible on the large wooden doors of the gate. The Philistines no doubt mocked and laughed at Israel's great "hero."
"This guy's a joke! He is out of his mind," they cried.
It was working. David decided to add a finishing touch to the effect. He put on a silly grin, letting his saliva run down onto his beard. David no longer looked like a military hero.
He looked like a fool!
It was clear to king Achish that David was no threat. He rebuked his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me?" (1 Sam.
21:14). Achish continued his rebuke by asking his servants whether he needed another madman in Gath. He had enough problems with the fools in his own ranks. He most certainly didn't need another one.
The gate of Gath was opened. David grunted, drooled, and stumbled through the crowd to freedom. Gath was no doubt far out of sight before David stopped play acting and returned to his normal demeanor. It was a close call! David had been in fear for his life! But God had answered his prayers and delivered him from his foes.
How could David best thank God for His intervention in his behalf? How could he let others know how God had delivered him? How could he encourage his fellow Israelites to share in his praise and worship of Almighty God?
David knew the answer. A psalm. A Psalm Testimony. Yes, a poetic expression of praise would be the best way to make a public statement of God's greatness in delivering His servant.
As David journeyed from Gath, his mind began to whirl with words, phrases, and images.
"How shall I begin?" he wondered. "Yes, that's it."
As David continued on his way, a Psalm Testimony came into being. We know it today as Psalm 34. It is David's personal testimony of how God delivered him from one of the most threatening and dangerous situations of his life.
Take a minute to read the full text of David's testimony found in Psalm 34.
David not only benefitted from writing the psalm, but his friends benefitted from hearing it. By the time David's brothers and friends joined him at the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1), I am sure that the psalm was ready for delivery. David no doubt shared with them his story of how God had delivered him from a close encounter with death. As David shared his Psalm Testimony, God's reputation was exalted among those who heard. Not only did the psalm encourage them to worship, they gained a higher view of God having heard David's testimony.
Think with me for a moment on how impoverished the Church would have been if David had never written a Psalm Testimony. Our book of Psalms would be about half its present size. There would be no Psalm 34, Psalm 23, or Psalm 110. Not only would we be missing some great psalms, we would be missing some great hymns. For the hymns which are based on David's psalms would have never been written.
I believe that God still works in mighty ways to deliver His own. And these mighty acts of God must be declared. To keep such things to ourselves means to deprive the church of fresh opportunities to praise and worship our God. But how should we begin?
How does a non-poet write a Psalm Testimony?
My goal in writing this book is to help revive the ancient Hebrew tradition of giving public praise to God for His special blessings upon His people. This book will prepare you for publicly praising God for His attributes, provisions and deliverance.
As a believer in Christ, you have enjoyed many blessings from God. There are spiritual blessings as well as acts of intervention, provision and answers to prayer. With this guidebook, you can learn how easy it is to share a personal experience where your life has been changed by a special intervention from God. This newly revived form of public worship requires no special poetic or musical talent on your part. As long as you can read and write, you have all the skills needed.
There are just two basic essentials in preparing a Psalm Testimony. First, you need to focus on a unique blessing where God has made His presence known. Second, you need a desire to return thanks and praise God. By blending these essentials with the simple guidelines in this book, you will discover a powerful pattern of praise which will glorify the name of God and enrich the lives of God's people around you.
You may still be skeptical. Be encouraged. Others have succeeded and you can too. Remember, the Holy Spirit is capable of far surpassing your supposed limitations in creative thought and writing, especially when it comes to praising our Almighty God. We are commanded by our Lord to "let our light shine" brightly that God may be glorified (Matt. 5:16). One way you can obey that command is through writing your Psalm Testimony.
It will help to take a minute to reflect over the list below to see if any of these entries have been part of your life's experience. These and many similar blessings are worthy of public praise to God.
God's attributes which you have seen and felt:
God's unique position above creation God's total forgiveness of sin God's masterpieces reflected in the moon and stars God's power projected in the oceans and rivers God's order demonstrated in the seasons God's faithfulness demonstrated in His promises
God's deliverance from temptation God's healing of emotional problems God's deliverance from indebtedness God's deliverance from loneliness Writing Psalm Testimonies has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life and career. And this is not because I have done all the writing. No, my students and parishioners have participated and as they have read their Psalm Testimonies before their classmates and congregations, God's name has been elevated! And His people have worshipped the God who acts on behalf of His own.
So join me in a spiritual adventure. Let's learn how to praise God according to this ancient, biblical pattern. It is my hope that this guidebook will help glorify God's name among His people.
The Book of Psalms has been regarded by many saints as their favorite book of the Bible. It is the book we tend to turn to when we need comfort, consolation and encouragement. It is no wonder that Martin Luther, the German Reformer, spent so much time preaching the Psalms. He called Psalms "a little book for all the saints in which every man in whatever situation he may be placed, shall find sentiments which shall apply to his own case, and be the same to him as if they were for his own sake alone, so expressed as he could not express them himself, nor find, nor even wish them better than they are."
But Luther was not the first Christian to take delight in the Psalms. Athanasius, one of the early Church Fathers wrote that "the Psalms are to him who sings them, as a mirror wherein he may see himself and the motives of his soul and with like feelings utter them."
Ambrose remarked, "Although all Scripture breatheth the grace of God, yet sweet beyond all others is the Psalms."
The great English preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, gave a lifetime of study to the Psalms. He wrote, "In these busy days, it would be greatly to the spiritual profit of Christians if they were more familiar with the Psalms, in which they would find a complete armory for life's battles, and a perfect supply for life's needs. For every condition there is a psalm, suitable and elevating. He who is acquainted with the marches of the Psalms-country knows that the land floweth with milk and honey, and he delights to travel therein."
The Psalms of the Bible are not merely delightful reading. They serve as an example of how to praise God and give Him true worship. It is through our study of the biblical Psalms that we will learn to write our Psalm Testimony. So let's get acquainted with this great book.
The original title for the book among the Hebrews was Sefer Tehillim which means "Book of Praises." The English title is derived from the Greek translation Psalmoi, which means "songs sung to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument." We call the book "Psalms." The term "Psalms" refers to the entire book while the singular term "psalm" is used to refer to one of the 150 included in this collection.
This introduction or superscription often identifies the author and the circumstances in which the psalm was written.