POEMS of affirmation, for confidence, for spiritual stability, for response, for divine empathy; for the purposes of God in our lives: these are the biblical Psalms. These sonnets of Scripture do easily carry us through the journey of life, and, per this suggestion, can help through every age and stage, and every purpose and season of life.
My thesis is this: there are four broad seasons of life: 1) spring (ages 15-28); summer (29-44); autumn (45-69); winter (70+). Each of the seasons is longer than the last one, God-willing, as far as that commends itself to the last season. Throughout each of life’s seasons there are four purposes: 1) the underpinning purpose of identity; 2) the inspiring purpose of growth; 3) the building purpose of contribution; and, 4) the loving purpose of legacy. All these purposes are crucial for the experience of hope in life.
Through every season and in every purpose there’s a psalm that will help as in that stage of life. Here are my suggestions:
Psalm 139 tells us that we are unique, hand-crafted by God, and worthy as anyone else is to live this life. It’s an identity psalm. As we meditate over it, during any season of life really, it nourishes a sense of specialness in us.
During “spring” we are growing a great deal, but we’re also contributing and leaving a legacy. Psalm 19 is a wisdom psalm that speaks to us in our youth. Psalm 18 reminds us, in its length, of the importance of social justice; of making a contribution. Psalm 51 gives us a way of repenting; a legacy for the ensuing seasons of life.
Psalm 1 is a princely psalm that ought to be our byword in the going out and coming home of summer life. It reminds us of who we should and should not associate with; and what we should always do: meditate on the Word of God. This psalm sustains our identity in a key period of contribution in our lives.
Psalm 25 will keep us reaching high for growth during the hotter months of life. Psalm 49 is another wisdom psalm that reminds us of the folly of wealth, so we might make worthier contributions to life. Psalm 127 is a legacy psalm reminding us where our efforts leave lasting results — in and through our children — and where our efforts might be wasted.
Summer is not the best period of life; autumn is. The years 45 through 69 (roughly speaking) are where perspective is attained, and less of life is wasted in hurry. Identity, here, is underpinned by the classic Psalm 15. This psalm could actually underpin our identity of integrity through every season of life. If we do what Psalm 15 commends for us to do, we will be blessed!
Psalm 91 fills us with the assurance of God’s inimitable Presence, through the entire lifespan. It’s a richly warm psalm for continued growth right into “winter.” Psalm 27 gives us the confidence of summer in autumn when we might be feeling our age. Psalm 78 is a long psalm designed to get us out of life and reflecting over God’s goodness and greatness over the history of his relationship with Israel. This passing-the-baton psalm inspires us to leave a worthy legacy.
The Psalm of Moses (Psalm 90) is a perspective psalm ideal, again, to pin our identities to. This psalm abides with us and in us as we look back over a long life lived.
There is still growth to be had, a contribution to make, as well as a legacy to leave in our winter years. Psalm 37 is an encouraging psalm in the wisdom set for when we feel weak; it encourages us to continue growing. Psalm 71 teaches us that God won’t forsake us when we’re old and grey — we still have a contribution to make. Psalm 23 reminds us of God’s Presence as our legacy is transformed from our life through the passage of, and beyond, our death. Our presence remains with our loved ones as his Presence does.
So through the seasons of life come the purposes of life. Life is crammed full of purpose throughout every age.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.