Lee Eclov has an excellent article in the Preaching Today newsletter on why we preach from the Psalms. He begins: “Preaching on a psalm is like trying to give a talk on ‘America the Beautiful’ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ Psalms are meant to be sung—or at least read—again and again, till we know the next line before we read it, till we know their spiritual pitch without a piano introduction, till our hearts naturally begin to think and speak in psalmic.
“So what’s a preacher to do when our text is a psalm? We tend toward spiritual musicology, lecturing on the song’s history and structure (Do you see the chiasm in verses 5 and 6?). We take the word pictures and deconstruct them, as if to help people find the faint blue numbers under the psalmist’s paint. We rightly point out the expressions of faith or joy or pain and try to walk our people into the music, but we end up sounding like a documentary on how the orchestra works.
“The preacher of the psalms is like a choral conductor rehearsing his choir. I’ve directed choirs for years. I’m not great at it, but I know my role. For one thing, I see to the choir’s sound—pitch, color, dynamics, tempo. But it is also my job to see that they communicate the music: that they voice the message of the composer, that they bring the music to life. When it comes to psalms, we preach to the choir. We help them find the text’s spirit, mood and meaning so they can do justice to it when they sing it, or pray it, themselves or together. We preachers have to remember that in the end, God’s people sing the song. We help them learn it and love it. Then we urge them to sing it as it was meant to be sung.” (Click here to read the full article.)