Shaped by God: Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms, by John Piper
If you Google “most popular books of the Bible,” you’ll find the Book of Psalms at or near the top of every list. In this book, John Piper elaborates beautifully on six of the Psalms that have most deeply affected him and his ministry.
God wants your heart.
The whole Bible teaches truth and awakens emotions, but the Psalms are in a category of their own. They do not just awaken heart; they put it in the foreground. They do not just invite our emotions to respond to God’s truth; they put our emotions on display.
The Psalms are not just commanding; they are contagious. We are not just listening to profound ideas and feelings. We are living among them in their overflow. We touch pillows wet with tears. We hear and feel the unabashed cries of affliction, shame, regret, grief, anger, discouragement, and turmoil. But what makes all this stunningly different from the sorrows of the world is that all of it—absolutely all of it—is experienced in relation to the totally sovereign God.
This book is an invitation. God wants our hearts. He will take them as he finds them. And then, with the healing contagion of the Psalms, he will shape them. Accept his invitation to come.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Aaron Lee –
As a worship leader, I am always looking for new ways to be inspired creatively and refreshed spiritually. With the new year approaching, I thought it would be fitting to revisit the Psalms. In this small book, Shaped by God, John Piper shares six sermons that help us think and feel in tune with the Psalms.
On Songs and Spiritual Depression
Chapter 1 fittingly focuses on Psalm 1 and shows how the Psalms are songs that shape the heart and mind. They are instructions. They are poems. They are filled with emotion. And they point us to Christ.
In Chapter 2, Piper looks at Psalm 42 and spiritual depression. He introduces us to the Sons of Korah and talks about his own need to hope in God while pastoring. He then shows six ways to respond to discouragement. First, ask God why. Second, affirm his sovereign love. Third, sing. Fourth, preach to your own soul. Fifth, remember past experiences. And sixth, thirst for God. He points us to Christ and makes the connection that when we see Christ we are seeing the face of God.
Discouragement and Guilt, Gratitude and Praise
Psalm 51 is examined in Chapter 3, and Piper claims there is a way to be crushed that honors God. Specifically, our connection with Jesus Christ shapes how we think and feel about discouragement and guilt. The context is set for Psalm 51 with David’s fall and forgiveness. Piper shows us the appropriate response to sin: turn to God, pray for cleansing, confess the seriousness, and plea for renewal. In true Piper fashion, he ends with a quote by Jonathan Edwards and our indestructible joy in God.
Chapter 4 discusses Psalm 103 and deals with gratitude and praise. Piper opens with the claim that when you see a good father, you are seeing a picture of God. Moreover, God designed human fatherhood to be a portrait of himself. This had a profound impact on me as I became a new father this year. Piper then gives us three reasons to bless the Lord: God is sovereign, God is righteous and just, and God is merciful and forgiving.
On Anger and the Goal of the Glory of God
Chapter 5 is on Psalm 59 and the difficult topic of anger. First, Piper shows us the immediate context for David and then takes us to the New Testament to see how Jesus used the Psalm. He then shows how it should affect us. First, we should approve of God’s judgment. Second, we should recognize the ministries of Jesus. Third, we should have an incentive to forgive.
Psalm 96 is the text for Chapter 6 and shows us that the goal is the glory of God. Piper is at his best with the memorable phrases of singing and nations, music and missions. And he shows us how our singing summons the nations to join the chorus in the praise of God. And he points us to hope and the future when we will all sing a new song.
Thinking and Feeling in Tune with the Psalms
The book ends with a closing invitation to give God your heart and let him shape it through the Psalms. After reading this book, I am reminded that worship does not only take place on a stage but begins in my heart. I am reinvigorated to think and feel with my whole being. I want to give everything to God with no reservations. I am humbled that we have his Word. And I am moved to worship.
I was provided a free copy of Shaped by God but was not required to write a positive review.