Why Singing the Psalms is a matter of Life and Death. . . I’m not even kidding.

March 25, 2014

Psalm 70

O God, deliver me; O Lord, make haste – help me!
Let those ashamed and humbled be who seek my life wrongly.

May all who seek my end, who in my hurt delight;
Be turned back in disgrace, O Lord; dishonored in Your sight.

May all who say to me, “Aha, Aha!” in spite;
May they be turned back in their shame; Hear me, O God of might.

But may all who seek You; be glad, with joy abide;
May those who love salvation say, “Let God be magnified!”

Still I’m afflicted Lord; hasten to help, I pray;
You’re my deliverer and help; O Lord, do not delay!


Over the years I have made many trips to the Abby of Gethsemane for days of spiritual warfare. I always join the monks as they sing the Songs (psalms). I learn from them what it looks like to put on the full armor of God. Every two weeks they systematically sing through the entire 150 Psalms gathering seven times a day, seven days a week. Every single time they begin their singing prayers with the opening lines of Song #70. I can hear their chant now as they sing these words,

“O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me.”

Have you ever considered that the Psalms are the Scriptures’ strongest strategy of spiritual warfare?  These songs train us for the unconventional warfare of the Holy Spirit. In singing them we heed Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in The Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

The chief scheme of the devil is to convince us that our enemy is other people and to lure us into an offensive attack. And to be sure, our enemy does come in the form of other people. Because these enemies have become the unwitting and unknowing pawns of darkness, we must learn to pray, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Paul reminds us,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

God is not looking for people to fight for him. Remember his word to Moses on the Egyptian shore of the Red Sea, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” The warfare of the Spirit teaches us to stand firm. (Four times we see it in five verses)

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12, 13 NIV)

And what is this armor? Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word of the Lord. It is primarily in singing these Songs of Deliverance that we put on this invisible yet impenetrable armor.

Perhaps the most pressing lesson of these Songs comes from the words of the one who wrote so many of them. Facing an opponent twice his size, against all odds, David, without armor, shield or sword, spoke to the giant, Goliath, “The battle belongs to the Lord!”

I repeat, spiritual warfare is not fighting with some kind of jihadist ethic against Satan. Spiritual warfare is about standing firm in the full armor of God. Singing these songs makes us strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Are you getting this?

There is an absolute urgency to singing these Songs. It’s not a “nice” devotional exercise. It’s a matter of life and death. CLICK HERE.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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