Dental Work and The Psalms
I recently had to have some dental work done, and that brought me to the Psalms. A strange statement, maybe, but I get anxious when there’s drilling and grinding and cutting taking place in the neighborhood of my brain. Reading a Psalm helps me with that anxiety. Something similar occurred when we were missionaries in Venezuela, and I needed to have a wisdom tooth extracted. The small town where we lived didn’t have a dentist that could do the job, so we traveled to the capital city of Caracas for the “procedure.” We had to wait several weeks for the appointment, so that gave me lots of time to be anxious.
The Psalms were a great comfort to me while I waited. I wrote out several of them on a notecard and spent time meditating on them during the day. Psalm 121:8, “The Lord will watch over your coming and going,” and Psalm 142:3, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.” These and several other verses calmed my spirit, and I was able to endure the pain and discomfort.
During my recent dental work, I was reminded of that wisdom tooth extraction and I realized that was the time when I began studying the Psalms in earnest. Now, I make reading a Psalm every day a regular part of my morning devotional time. I love the term David Murray uses to describe the Psalms in his blog, Therapeutic Praise.
Here are two points to remember when reading, memorizing and meditating on the Psalms:
1. They are extremely instructive about God. While I’m thankful I have access to the complete Bible and revelation of God, nevertheless, if I could only have the book of Psalms, I believe I would be able to know God intimately. Each Psalm paints colorful pictures of His mercy, His grace, His love, His wrath, His judgment, His saving power and His desire to comfort His children.
2. They are meant to stir our emotions. These words were written as poetry, as songs. They elicit reactions from deep within our very beings. The writers speak of weeping, of hurting, of joy, of anguish, of shame, of loneliness. Every human emotion is described in the pages of this book, and God is either at the focus of these deep-seated feelings or lingering in the shadows. The Psalms teach me that our emotions are of great concern to Him.
So, “open wide” and take in some nourishment from the Psalms today.