When I Don’t Know What To Preach, I Preach the Psalms

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Pastors and preachers are often challenged by the question of what to preach next. The next Sunday is always looming. My default course of action when I am in-between preaching series, or simply unsure of where to go next, is to turn to the Psalms. Why the Psalms? There are many reasons for this, but two are most important to me.

First, the Psalms provide a wide variety of preaching topics and themes. John Calvin said of the Psalms, “I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, An Anatomy of the Soul; for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.”

The Psalms provide a wide variety of preaching topics and themes.

In the Psalms, you can preach on adoration (Ps. 65), praise (Ps. 34), awe (Ps. 99), thanksgiving (Ps. 100), singing (Ps. 95, 96, 101), comfort (Ps. 23), seeking God (Ps. 63), lament (Ps. 13), waiting on God (Ps. 37), what to do when life doesn’t make sense (Ps. 73), repentance (Ps. 51), confession (Ps. 32), trust (Ps. 53), petition (Ps. 86), growing old (Ps. 71) love for God’s Word (Ps. 119), and so much more!

Second, the Psalms point us to Jesus. The obvious Messianic elements in the Psalms are evident as you read them. As Jesus explained after his resurrection, in Luke 24:44, he had to suffer and die so that “everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” From the very beginning, the Psalter anticipates the advent of God’s anointed one in Zion (Ps. 1–2).

Try preaching on Jesus from the Psalms and you won’t be disappointed.

As useful as it is to read each psalm individually, the Psalter’s structure reveals something more profound: With each new book, hope for the establishment of a new Davidic kingdom grows. If you have doubts, keep in mind that Jesus is described as the anticipated king-priest of Psalm 110 in Hebrews 1:3. Even our Advent and Lenten themes could be drawn entirely from the Psalms! Try preaching on Jesus from the Psalms and you won’t be disappointed.

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Travis Johnson
Travis Johnson is Lead Pastor of the Findlay Bible Methodist Church.