After years of anticipation, I sat in a theater waiting to see my favorite musical on stage. When the lights dimmed, the orchestra began to play, and the baritone began to sing the opening lyrics, I burst into tears. My cheeks stayed damp for the next two hours and forty-five minutes. It didn’t matter that I’d heard the words so often I could have sung along. It didn’t matter that I knew the story backwards and forwards. When it was over, I stood up to applaud until my hands hurt.
In this show, each character is represented by a short, recurring musical moment. At the end, these motifs layer onto one another in a scene full of energy and complex emotion. Each individual song is powerful on its own. But only in witnessing the entire story is the artistry of the whole composition fully understood.
The book of Psalms is organized in a similar way. The larger book is structured as five smaller units, each made up of individual songs and poems. Many of us have never read the Psalms as an entire collection. More often, we read favorite psalms or look at them in literary groups. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this approach (we’ve done it as a She Reads Truth community and loved it!). But in doing so exclusively, we can miss the artistry of the whole collection.
We will look at psalms from each of the five books to build a framework for understanding the Psalms as a whole. We’ll see how this book tells a redemption story—one of a mighty, powerful God who drew near to broken humanity, who promised an eternal King, and who remains the same from generation to generation. Each psalm also reminds us that God meets us in whatever state we’re in—in our loneliness, sorrow, and celebration.
Our stories, just like the people who wrote each psalm, are not the whole story. But they are part of God’s grand redemption. Through these Holy Spirit-inspired words, we’re reminded that there is hope when everything seems lost, life when death and decay seem to press in, and community and purpose when all we see is loneliness and fear.
Our title comes from a refrain that occurs three times in Psalms. Amen is a Hebrew affirmation, a confident declaration that what was previously stated is the truth. It can be translated as, “Let it be so!,” “Certainly!,” “Surely!,” “Truly!,” or, my personal archaic favorite, “Verily!” Our prayer is that as you learn to read the Psalms book by book, you would join those who have gone before us by responding to God’s faithful redemption with a bold, declarative, “Amen and amen!”