Paul tells us to “let the words of Christ dwell in us richly.” To do this, we are to sing the Psalms (Col 3:16). He also tells us that we are to sing with understanding (1 Cor. 14:15 cf. Ps. 47:7). To sing the words of Christ with understanding implicitly commands that we know and understand the book of Psalms.
Read the Psalms
The Psalms translated in Scripture is referred to as prose form, because they are closer to a word-for-word translation that does not require meter and rhyming, yet communicates the poetic character of the Psalms.
Example: Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
To understand the Psalms then, we need to read them and study them and see what others say about them. I suggest going through some commentaries on the Psalms to get a better understanding of their layout for they were not placed in the Canon randomly.
In Spurgeon’s Commenting & Commentaries, he sets up 4 different categories of Psalm commentaries: 1) Psalms; 2) Considerable portions of the Psalms; 3) The penitential Psalms; 4) Separate Psalms
If you don’t have a copy of this book, check out the link. Of course you can check out a couple of the classics online:
Sing the Psalms
The Psalms translated in metered verse and made to rhyme are called metrical form.
Example: Psalm 1
1. That man is blest who, fearing God,
From sin restrains his feet,
Who will not stand with wicked men,
Who shuns the scorners’ seat.
2. Yea, blest is he who makes God’s law
His portion and delight,
And meditates upon that law
With gladness day and night.
3. That man is nourished like a tree
Set by the river’s side;
Its leaf is green, its fruit is sure,
And thus his works abide.
4. The wicked like the driven chaff
Are swept from off the land;
They shall not gather with the just,
Nor in the judgment stand.
5. The Lord will guard the righteous well,
Their way to Him is known;
The way of sinners, far from God,
Shall surely be o’er-thrown.
Tunes & Lyrics in The Psalter of 1912 (I do not support or endorse the Protestant Reformed Church, nor their Seminary)
(For props) – This is the Psalter my buddy Jason Kuiper gave me for my Birthday! It’s a chanting Psalter.