It strikes me how these psalms are used – originally by pilgrims coming to the Temple, now in regular prayer (like Psalm 119, traditionally during daytime prayers) and in the face of death.
What those situations all have in common is that we are drawing nearer to the felt presence of God, and these psalms give voice to our feelings in that pilgrimage. In different ways they all speak of confidence in God – whether that’s in the face of human enemies, in need of forgiveness or simply of the sense of security which God’s presence brings.
The one which strikes me most forcefully is Psalm 121, probably because a friend, a deeply faithful member of our congregation, had asked us to read it at her recent funeral. It’s a beautiful poem of complete confidence in the LORD, and it was right for Jean.
Perhaps it will give a different depth to my prayers and worship to remember that each time I approach God with praise and love I become more ready to approach him for the ultimate time when my death draws near. Perhaps that’s a good reason to use these psalms – after all, we need no recitation or ritual to come close to God, but we may well be more fully aware of him when we have taken the time to approach in reverent confidence.