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Shaping our Feelings

Today as I ran an errand I caught a portion of a popular old song. It had a drawing power to it, and it brought to mind some things I had been thinking about, pondering the work of Jack Collins (see his masterful notes on the Psalms in the ESV Study Bible).
Songs by their nature are designed to connect with our feelings and to help us to express those feelings. People like songs because of how they make us feel or because they express so well what we are feeling. Thus, we latch on to a song that “tells our story”, or “says what I am feeling.” This is simply the nature of song.
The power of song, though, is that in helping to express our emotion they also shape and train our emotion, guiding our affections along certain currents which become the well worn paths of our hearts. These paths will often shape our behavior more than facts we say we believe.
Certainly this is why, when God gave us His Word, he gave us divinely inspired songs- the Psalms. The Psalms, especially as we sing them, give voice to our emotions and train our emotions in paths which honor God whether that is teaching us to lament while still hoping in God, to air our complaints to God while still recognizing His authority, or expressing our joy and reminding us to thank God for every good gift. These songs teach us to find our story in the grand narrative of the people of God. In this story we find our meaning and purpose.
The Psalms are a great gift to us and we ought to make good use of them.

One Comment

  1. Eric Smith says:

    Amen. So well said.

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