by Jay Adams
There is one entire book of the Bible that is devoted to music: the Psalms. We’ve said little about this hymnbook in these blogs.
“Spose it’s ‘bout time to do so!”
Counselors will find the Psalms invaluable in helping their counselees deal with all human emotions. They range from grief and suffering to joy and gladness. They deal with anger, and wrath to as well as grace and forgiveness. And, those items are merely a few of what’s there.
How to use the Psalms in counseling is, of course, the question. Often verses are simply yanked out of context, missing the point of the Psalm as a whole. But to know what a Psalm is all about and, therefore, its purpose, is essential to bringing the full measure of comfort, encouragement, need for repentance, direction, and the like to the counselee. I say full measure, because even smaller units of biblical material if understood correctly, can be of help. But, all too frequently, that doesn’t happen when passages are used irrespective of their context.
“Give me an example”
OK. Psalm 23. Ever hear anyone speak of going “through the valley of death” as the process of dying? Of course, it means the opposite—the Lord protects His sheep from the hidden dangers lurking in the shadows (wolves, lions) as He leads them through those valley paths. Rather, the Psalm ought to be applied to safety and rescue situations, than to the process of dying.
So, my plea is for counselors not to use these hymns carelessly or wrongly. Some of them require extensive study; others are quite clear. But whichever we use, let’s do so with confidence—the confidence that is born of knowing what you are talking about.
Originally posted September 12, 2011, at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies blog