We’ve completed our first sixty-day trek with the Psalms and today we begin our second walk with them by reading Psalm 1-5. As we invest ourselves in the Psalms this time, let me encourage you to do three things.
First, utilize a Bible translation that you didn’t use on your first pass and deliberately select one you’re not accustomed to using a great deal. For example, I made use of the NIV these past two months so, in the coming two months (Mar.-Apr.) I’ll make use of the ESV. Freshness and insight will be your benefits. You have much to gain and nothing to lose by such an exercise.
Second, make use of a physical, paper Bible and/or make use of journal. This is especially pertinent if you’re in the habit of accessing the Biblical text in a digital/electronic format. This will give you a tangible experience and will enable you to get a little artsy for the sake of memory.
How so? Select a single matter to sketch from each palm you read. That’s right, underline or circle a key word or phrase in every psalm and then draw a very basic, simple illustration in the margin beside that psalm or in your journal. Nothing elaborate; we’re talking something that will take only a few seconds. Then think of this sketch as something of a “hook” that you’re going to mentally “hang this psalm from” and so, when you think of or see that matter in real life, you’ll think of this psalm and some of its contents. Don’t worry about what it looks like; this is just for you. Hey, I do well just to draw stick figures – I have zero art skills! – but, I’m doing this exercise. Our scratching things out might be crude, but they will be effective.
For example, since we read Psalm 1-5 today, I’ll be sketching the following: Ps. 1 – a tree (1.3), Ps. 2 – a rod of iron (2.9), Ps. 3 – a shield (3.3), Ps. 4 – a bed (4.4), and Ps. 5 – a pair of eyes (5.5).
You can choose these same or pick your own, of course. Which word/phrase you select is not nearly so important as your actually doing the exercise so as to help engrave the psalm’s message on your heart.
Third, work the whole of the day with your reading. That is, just as I’ve long encouraged you to do some of your reading at the start and the close of each day, continue doing so, but now remind yourself frequently throughout the day of your “hook words” and sketches. Each time you do so, let something you recall from any of the day’s reading to wash over you for a moment; baste yourself in its juices. You’ll find this to be refreshing for your heart as well as stimulating for your mind.