The Role of the Psalms in the Life of the Church

Authors on the Line

The Book of Psalms is an amazing gift to the church. Says John Piper, “The Psalms, more intentionally than any other book of the Bible, is designed to carry, express, and shape our emotions, to give vent to them — all of them, and shape them, to reign them in, and to free them up, to explode them, and to kill them when they should be killed.”

The Psalms are useful for shaping our emotions, and rich devotional fuel for the soul, but how are these ancient Psalms to function in the life of the gathered church in weekend worship? Most of us don’t sing from the Psalter, or even recite from the Psalms on a typical Sunday, although such a practice seems to be assumed by the early church (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).

So we recently went online with Old Testament scholar Gordon Wenham to think more about the place of the Psalms in the life of the local church. Wenham, 70, now serves as an adjunct professor at Trinity College, Bristol. He is the author of several books and commentaries, and from his home in Bristol he talked with us about his newest book, The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms (Crossway, 2013).