SONGS OF JESUS: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms

The Book of Psalms is known as the Bible's songbook — Jesus knew all 150 psalms intimately, and relied on them to face every situation, including his death. Two decades ago, Tim Keller began reading the entire Book of Psalms every month. The Songs of Jesus is based on his accumulated years of study, insight, and inspiration recorded in his prayer journals. Kathy Keller came to reading the psalms as a support during an extended illness. Together they have distilled the meaning of each verse, inviting readers into the vast wisdom of the psalms.

If you have no devotional life yet, this book is a wonderful way to start. If you already spend time in study and prayer, understanding every verse of the psalms will bring you to a new level of intimacy with God, unlocking your purpose within God's kingdom.

The psalms were the divinely inspired hymnbook for the public worship of God in ancient Israel (1 Chron. 16:8–36). Because psalms were not simply read, but sung, they penetrated the minds and imaginations of the people as only music can do. They so saturated the heart and imagination of the average person that when Jesus entered Jerusalem it was only natural that the crowd would spontaneously greet him by reciting a line from a psalm (Mark 11:9; Ps. 118:26).

The early Christians sang and prayed the psalms as well (Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:26). When Benedict formed his monasteries he directed that the psalms all be sung, read, and prayed at least once a week. Throughout medieval times the psalms served as the most familiar part of the Bible for most Christians. The Psalter was the only part of the Bible a lay Christian was likely to own. At the time of the Reformation, the psalms played a major role in the reform of the church. Martin Luther directed that “the whole Psalter, psalm by psalm, should remain in use.” John Calvin prescribed metrical psalms as the main diet of song in worshipping congregations. Calvin wrote: “The design of the Holy Spirit [was] . . . to deliver the church a common form of prayer.”

All theologians and leaders of the church have believed that the psalms should be used and reused in every Christian’s daily private approach to God and in public worship. We are not simply to read psalms; we are to be immersed in them so that they profoundly shape how we relate to God. The psalms are the divinely ordained way to learn devotion to our God.
— Tim and Kathy Keller, excerpt from Songs of Jesus