Summer of Psalms

by Matt Townsley

Growing up, the Memorial Day weekend indicated the beginning of
summer in the Townsley household.  It meant the school year was wrapping up and warm clothes were being traded in for cut offs and tank tops (yes, I was a child of the ’80s and ’90s).  Because of the pandemic, this summer may seem a bit different for many of us –spending time at the city pool is still up in the air and/or the sports season is still in question.

Regardless of our perspective on things opening up too soon or not soon enough, one thing is for certain– COVID-19 has stirred up A LOT of emotions among us.  This is why I am so excited to kick-off our “Summer of Psalms” blog.

Many scholars believe the book of Psalms was written by two authors who both express a wide variety of emotions to or about God.  Whether crying out to in distress because the thought of watching your kids for another few months seems unbearable or feeling overjoyed the family trip out state was postponed, we can all relate to at least one of the 150 chapters in this Old Testament book.

This week, we are taking a look at Psalm 118:1-4 which reads:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.” (ESV)

Note the first verse in which the author (likely King David) sings praises to God for his love that endures forever.  And in the next verses, the author suggests who ought to be singing these praises: an entire nation (Israel), the priests (house of Aaron) and anyone else (those who fear the Lord) which includes you and me!

Yet, when summer plans have been changed, loved ones seem so far away via FaceTime and Zoom, and washing hands fifteen (or is it fifty?) times per day is getting old, it can be hard to sing praises to God.

Within the first verse, I see an important phrase, “for he is good.” We can give thanks to God because of who he is and that “who” never changes. Here at Riverwood, Erin frequently reminds us to “live like Jesus lived and love like Jesus loves.” According to 1 John 4:7-8, the love we have for others is an outpouring of God’s love for us. When we (and that “we” includes me) consider how much God loves us, we will praise Him regardless of the circumstances.

Will you join me in a simple summer challenge?
Beginning June 1 and ending July 31, send a text or email to someone who will keep you accountable.

In that simple daily message, note two things:
1)a truth about God to give thanks, and 2)something else for which you’re thankful.
As we give daily thanks this summer, I believe this challenge has the potential to remind us that “His steadfast love endures forever.”