(From Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven by Rory Noland)
Ever wanted to write your own Psalm? You can! Your original psalm doesn’t have to be wordy or eloquent; or even have to rhyme! You just have to be honest with your feelings toward God. You may want to set your psalm to music, or to a dance, or paint a picture to go with it; whatever will enrich your private worship experience.
Biblical Psalms can be roughly divided into three basic categories: songs of lament, hymns of thanksgiving, and hymns of praise. Should you choose to compose your own Psalm keep in mind these simply guidelines.
Hymns of Thanksgiving
Hymns of thanksgiving express gratitude for who God is and/or something God has done in the life of the writer. A thanksgiving psalm refers to a specific experience and gives witness to how God intervened. So the overall tone is joyful, with a deep awareness of God’s unmerited favor and blessing. Psalms 9 and 30 are good examples of thanksgiving hymns, as are salvation testimonies and stories about answered prayer. Characteristically, hymns of thanksgiving include these three factors:
They describe a past problem.
They recount how God intervened.
They express thanksgiving for God’s grace.
Hymns of Praise
Hymns of praise call God’s people to respect, admire, and revere God’s attributes and mighty deeds. They may not refer to a specific experience because hymns of praise begin with the premise that God is worthy of praise simply because he is God. As a result, such psalms highlight various names or attributes of God. Psalms 8, 93, and 145 are perfect examples. Thus, hymns of praise follow three principles:
Generally start by calling God’s people to worship.
State specific reasons to worship God.
Cite specific names or attributes of God.
Songs of Lament
Songs of lament are expressions of deep grief, anger, or sorrow related to personal hardship and crisis. They reflect an honest struggle to make sense of the pain of this world. Amid great adversity, the writer turns to God, knowing that God is the only one who can rescue, vindicate, and make things right. Songs of lament typically move from desperation to hope. Examples include Psalms 12 and 13. In writing a song of lament, keep in mind the following guidelines. Generally, songs of lament include three statements:
They are addressed to God.
They state a personal problem or crisis.
The eventually affirm hope and trust in God.
As you write your psalm, remember, you don’t have to write a literary masterpiece for God in order for it to be worship. Unless you decide to share it with others it can always remain between you and God.