Come Follow Me Insights – Psalms 1-46: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth! – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
And I’m Mike McLean.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today the first portion of the Book of Psalms, the ancient temple hymnbook.
I love the Psalm because they’re how everybody in the Jewish tradition learned the Gospel. The songs of Jesus youth came from these hymns. And when I got a chance to teach Sunday school for teenagers, I had to figure out a way to teach for the opening song of one of my classes. It was the song about the good shepherd going after the lost sheep. And the problem I had. I woke up at five in the morning and I thought, all my kids are never lost. These are the kids who believe the 14th article of faith, which is they believe in meetings, they’ve hoped for meetings. These kids always showed up and I thought, how am I going to teach? This principle of Jesus leaves the 99, which were my class, to go after the lost guy. It’s almost as if the lesson was going to be, if you really want to get attention in this class, just quit and then we’ll come after you. And then my psalm for that class that day was this.
I am one of the 99. I’m not perfect, but basically I’m doing fine. I have not lost my way and I’ve not gone astray. I’m just one of the 99 and I’m here in the heart of the.
Fold I’m not mindless, but I try.
To do like I’m told I’m not.
Tempted to run or become the lost.
I’m just here in the heart of the fold.
So why is my shepherd coming this way towards me? He’s holding his arms out and he’s calling my name he’s calling my name but how can this be? You see, I’m just one of the 99 I have stumbled and fallen but I’ve kept in line I’m not one he must seek, I’m not all that unique, I’m just one of the 99. So why is my shepherd treating me like a lost lamb? He’s searching to find me, he’s holding me now, yes, he’s holding me now and he’s teaching me who I am I’m one of the 99.
You’re going to have to edit it.
Holding me now, holding me in TJ.
I am then they’re Instrumental.
You’Ve got your seats. Make sure those kids have got their cheerios. Sit quiet. So why am I feeling like I’m.
The only one here?
It’s like I’m his favorite. And he takes me aside and he sweetly confides these remarkable words in my ear. He says, have you any idea how brightly you shine?
You are safe in this fold, in this time.
You were told that I know you’ve.
Been so I know where you’ll be.
Because all of your life you’ve been following me you are more than just.
One of the sands of the sea.
Or just one of the 99.
Thank you. What a fitting way to start the episode with an opening song to connect us with the Savior in such a beautiful way, which, by the way, we need to introduce right at the get go, is poetry and beautiful words put together. It’s really powerful, it’s moving to the soul. But something happens when you take words, poetry, beautifully written lyrics, and you embed them in music. It’s a new channel of communication that often opens between heaven and the heart. And it communicates things that the words alone can never communicate quite to the same depth, quite powerful.
You might think to yourself, how often, if you listen to a song, does it bring back memories that have been stored in your heart for years? And I know when I read the Scriptures, they mean a lot to me. But there’s something about listening to music that brings back all these memories of love and goodness and God’s awareness of me that sometimes just words alone may not fully convey. So thank you, Michael, for all that you do to serve so many.
So let’s get some context for the Book of Psalms. Since we’re going to be here for three weeks. Keep in mind we have 150 of them, very similar to what we would consider our Him book today. Keep in mind, when these were originally written, they weren’t being inserted as they were written into a handbook. They were all separate documents, separate poetic forms. We don’t have any musical tablet here, so we have no recording idea of how these would have sounded, what exact instruments, or what kind of melodies, or if they had harmonies, if they would have multiple levels in a choir, or if it was all just one voice singing in unison. We just don’t know. Later on, as they start getting compiled and coalesced into this one Book of the Psalms, fascinating, because then they start to get clustered a little bit into different categories.
Yeah. So you have one third of the psalms. You would call them praise psalms. And either an individual is doing the praise or the collective group. So when you’re looking at these psalms, you might say yourself, do I see people saying things like, praise the Lord? If it’s that, it’s probably collective. If you see something like, I praise the Lord, it’s an individual praise. You also have lamentation. So how many of you have ever had a difficult time in life? Okay. And you cry out to God because something’s difficult in life. It’s interesting, about one third of the psalms are lamentation psalms. And it’s these individuals who are suffering in some way. They’re dealing with mental challenges, health issues, or they have well, they would call them enemies, but people in their lives where they have difficult relationships. And then there’s a number of psalms that are prayer psalms. We could also add categories of like temple ascent. These are psalms that people would sing as they would get ready to go up to the temple. And you also have psalms of, say, coronation or kingship. So as you are reading through the Psalms, you could just document for yourself, does this seem to be praise, lamentation, a prayer?
Does it relate to the temple coordination? It might give you just an overview perspective of how to interpret what’s going on. But ultimately we’re not simply trying to understand what these meant to people who live hundreds and hundreds years ago, which is helpful. We also want these words to sink into our soul. So we’re drawn back to God. That’s why we spend time here, not simply so we know what went on in the ancient world. We want to know better God currently, presently in our lives through these words.
This might come as a surprise to some of you, and maybe not. Of all of the books, the 39 books in the Old Testament, the one that gets quoted more than any other in the New Testament happens to be the Psalms. Jesus is constantly referring back to the Psalms and sometimes long sections of the Psalms, as we’re going to see in today’s episode. Other times you get a lot of writers who they’ll just give you a small three or four word phrase or a little snippet of something and they assume you know exactly what they’re talking about and that you’re going to bring with you the whole psalm that they’ve quoted a key part of. And if you’re not familiar with the Psalms, then you miss the lesson. It would be similar to somebody giving a talk in sacrament meeting today who, as they’re giving the talk, the thought comes to just throw in at the end of something the phrase how great thou art. And then they keep going with their talk and everybody in the congregation brings with them all of those ideas of four long verses of beautiful music of O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all.
And then you fill in the blanks. It brings with it all of that. And so keep in mind, the more familiar you get with the Psalms by reading them as you go along, you’re going to find that many of our hymns in our hymn book today are based out of the book of Psalms. And many times you’re going to see a phrase that you recognize from another scripture and you’re going to start connecting dots. And that’s a lot of fun.
One more thing about the structure of individual Psalms, you’ll get this throughout the Scriptures, especially in Isaiah and other poetic works. They use something called parallelism, where they’ll give out an idea and then they’ll repeat it with different ideas and then they’ll move on to the next idea. So it’s called parallelism. So as you’re reading the Psalms, you will look for these ideas to be repeated and sometimes in a contrasting way, or perhaps in what’s called a chaotic structure. Where it centers on a key point. In fact, we’ll look at psalm two is structured very much on a really cool, chaotic structure which, by the way.
For a songwriter, Michael, I think would connect with this structure way better than just an average lay member of the church who doesn’t really get into the music. Because think about how music is generally structured in verses where you share an idea one way, but you want to sink it deep. So you share the same sentiment with verse two.
And in popular music, the verse lays it out. But the point you’re really trying to make is in the chorus. One of the great lines as a songwriter is don’t bore us, get to the chorus. Here’s the set up. And one of the gifts I have of having been mentored by some really great musical theater guys, the guy who wrote Prince of Egypt, for example, Stephen Shorts, he talked about you introduce an idea and then you say and this is what that idea is about. Here’s the chorus. If you’re going to do another verse, you don’t repeat exactly. You say, what else can I teach you about this idea? How can I expand it? How can I give it new meaning? Then let’s go back to the chorus. And if you’ve got a really great song by the time you get to the third chorus, though, the words have not changed. The meaning gets deeper and richer and more layered. And that’s one of the things about songs that is powerful because it takes an idea and a concept. And one of the things I think about when we think about why didn’t and as a songwriter, I thought about this a lot why didn’t God include the melodies that David wrote so I could know who is man, that thou art mindful of him?
Why don’t I get to hear that tune? And I had this really kind of great AHA and it’s because the message which he wrote not in English, it’s been translated into English, but that went with his melody. That was the song of the Jewish youth. For a thousand years we taught each other these songs. These were like their primary songs. We know these songs. But is it possible that the reason they were never written down is because Heavenly Father said I don’t want some person in 2022 to get distracted because the melody that was very cool 3000 years ago does not speak to your heart. And that one of the things that is so exciting about the power of music is you can take an idea and then somebody can say here’s how I hear it. And it doesn’t mean you have to hear it that way. But it’s a way for me, it’s why we have testimony, meetings where people say this is my experience with God in my language and my way. And it makes it so much more universal than only this tune only this way. I think Heavenly Father has such a huge grasp of the differences of all of his children that music helps us speak in that way.
That’s powerful. And we’re going to give an example of that in a few minutes. Let’s jump in as an example to psalm one. We’re going to start there in psalm chapter one. You’re going to see this structure as it sets up with this Hebrew poetry, where it’s not enough just to say something plainly. You want to paint a picture of it and then you want to paint a picture of it using different symbols. Look at verse one. Let’s just take these first four or five verses. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. So there’s the first statement. Nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. So they’ve actually given you three layers of things that create a blessed state. Don’t do any of these three things. Now, instead of them just coming right out and saying, look, a commandment I give unto you. Don’t do this and thou shalt not do this and thou shalt not do that. You’ll notice the softness that the psalm brings to this injunction, if you will, this idea that they’re showing you. These are three things you want to David.
And then look at the first word of verse two, but provides this counter to these negative examples that have been given in verse one. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. Now, I don’t know about you, but usually when you think of the law, you don’t think, oh, what a delight. I love the law. I am so grateful for commandments and rules and regulations. But in this psalmist perspective, they’re taking great delight in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditates day and night. They see the law differently than we do. They see it as this beautiful gift from God and a sign of God’s love and mercy and grace toward them. And they’re not complaining about it, they’re glowing in it and saying, we need to think about this day and night.
Reminds me of Nephi. Nephi talks in this very way where he talks about why he spends his time meditating upon the law of God. Remember, the law is the Torah, which is the law of Moses, which is the covenant that God gave to his people of here is how you can be in relationship with me. So it’s these stipulations that teach us how to be in relationship with God. So of course, someone who wants to be in that relationship with God is going to delight in knowing what are those instructions, to be in this loving, trusting, faithful relationship with the God of the universe.
So watch what happens. Again, this is a very common thing with songwriters and with poets where they can say things in such a way that you just kind of walk away saying, wow, that was beautiful. It communicated things that I would have never come up with on my own. Look at verse three as an example of this. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doth shall prosper. That imagery right there. I’m going to use color here. We don’t normally do this, but that imagery of a tree planted not out in the desert, not up on a mountain cliff, but planted by the water. The implication is this tree will have the soil and the moisture and the sun that it needs to continually grow and bring forth fruits and in this context, fruits of righteousness. And if you look at the context, the living water is a representation of Jesus Christ symbolized by the law that I’m drawing strength to be able to actually know what I’m doing when I’m trying to be good.
Because now I know what it means to be good because I’m seeing Jesus’s example and I want to be like Him and I want to root myself. I want to plant next to Him because there’s an alternative. And you’ll notice music will often do this as well, where you won’t just get the one positive example. Often in scriptures and in poetry, you’ll get the opposite example. Look at verse four. If this isn’t something that is desirable, look at the alternative. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. You know, that chaff is that outer coating over the grain that gets beaten off of the grain and then they throw it up in the air. It’s called winnowing. And the heavier grain will fall back to the ground, but the wind will carry that chaff. It’s dry, it lacks any nutrients, there’s nothing worthwhile in it, and it gets tossed about by every wind that blows. It’s not rooted, it’s not planted. So it becomes this beautiful word play in your mind that you can visualize and see. The power of. The choice you and I now have to make is who do I want to be?
How do I want my life to be defined? As one that gets blown about or one that’s rooted in Christ and in his law? I just love the way this whole book starts with Psalm One.
I also look at Psalm One as kind of the header, the prologue to the rest of the hymn book. And it’s providing you a theme of what this entire book is about. Blessed is he who delights in the law of the Lord. Blessed is he that doth meditate day and night in the words of God. So if you take this as a theme, you can find that throughout the rest of Psalms that we can find blessings when we are rooted and grounded in the word of God and letting that water our souls to bring forth fruit that provides eternal delight.
I didn’t prepare this, but as you were speaking and as I was reading, this flash came to me. These songs were the songs of Jesus youth, the songs of all youth. This is how they spoke. And since Jesus didn’t know instantly who he was. What his mission was. Could he start to have a sense as he goes through every single one of these psalms of his youth and saying. These songs that my mother taught me. These songs that I sang with the kids in the street. These songs that I heard sung at synagogue. Were to help the Son of God do the most important work. Because everything in these Scriptures testifies that he is who he said he was. And it’s real, and I love thinking of it in that context.
That’s a really helpful insight. Thank you.
Beautiful insight for the Savior as he grew from grace to grace. Yes, as described in section 93. And we don’t know at what point he now understands. I know by age twelve, he David I’m about my father’s business, but as you’re saying, his mom’s going to be singing to him some of these psalms. He hears them in the synagogue and.
Wonder and maybe the very thing we’re supposed to take out of it, maybe Jesus said, I need to take that out of it. I need to learn about how I can be rooted in the Word and then how I can fulfill my mission. And it’s hard for us to, I think, and it’s the most natural, humble thing to say, well, I’m not like Jesus, or is he trying to teach me how to be like Him and give me hope that I can be like Him?
That’s a really important connection to make. Is anytime you see anything in the Scriptures. Whether it’s in the psalms or any of these other Old Testament writings. When these prophets or poets start speaking messianically. Meaning referring to Jesus or the Savior and speaking in ways that definitely help us see events in his life rather than leaving it just in the realm of. Oh. This is about Jesus and what he needs to do for us to liken it to us. Well, guess what? I’m trying to be like Jesus. So I want those psalms that definitely directly apply to Him to become inclusive.
It makes it bigger, it makes it deeper, but it doesn’t put me in a position where, oh, Jesus is so awesome, I can never even approach his greatness. But rather, no. Jesus came to say, no, you can do this. Let me help you do this. I had to learn this same lesson. I came as a mortal Son of God. I had to figure this out. And sometimes, because the Lord didn’t write in the Scriptures that whole period from when he was born until his mission started. Other than that twelve year old period, we don’t get a chance to say to ourselves, oh my gosh, he is my brother, he is here to bless me. Instead of he set this example that seems so intimidating that I’ll never be able to do it.
That is really helpful. I think to summarize what you’re saying is sometimes we focus so much on the divinity and the glory of Jesus, we miss his humanity, that he was like us and therefore we could become like Him and his glory and divinity, I love that.
That speaks to my heart.
So let’s grab obviously with an episode that’s supposed to cover from Psalm one through 49. We’re not even going to be able to cover a fraction of the chapters here, but let’s grab a couple of concepts along the way. Some of them were going to have Michael share some more music with us along the way. But let’s jump into chapter two. Notice the significance. Now, we just got through talking about psalms that are messianic in nature. See if you can recognize that in verse six and seven. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion I will declare the decree. The Lord hath said unto me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten me. Now, if you’re familiar with Matthew, Mark and Luke, the synoptic gospel writers in the New Testament, they all will give us this experience at the baptism where you hear the voice of God speaking from heaven. Now, Matthew’s account is slightly different by a couple of words than Mark and Luke’s, but this psalm, Psalm two, verse seven, is what is recorded in the New Testament as the voice of God. Thou art my son this day have I forgotten thee through the baptism.
It’s kind of neat to see that. Here you get Heavenly Father. The way he’s communicating to the people is through a hymn, a snippet of a hymn that they would all be very familiar.
I love this. This so inspires the songwriter in me. One of my favorite lines is sometimes a song can teach me the truth, the only way my heart can hear it.
And this is, I think, an example of that.
That’s right. I think for them to hear words that they would have already been familiar with brings with it the rest of Psalm two into their soul. And their testimony of Christ on that day is a little more rooted by the river.
Let’s build a bit into this from the context in the ancient Near East. Particularly for the Israelites. The idea was that the King was divinely appointed and either the direct Son of God were adopted by God and therefore of a divine nature. And therefore had the right to rule on the throne and to represent God and to bring the peace and stability that he first provided after chaos was put in its place at the creation. So the King on his throne is like God completing creation and having a Sabbath arrest. That was the purpose of kingship and to designate who the appropriate king is. That king would be told, you are my son. This is exactly what we have in verse six and seven. I have set my King upon my holy hill. I will declare the decree, thou art my son this day I have begotten thee. So for any ancient Israelite, it would have been unmistakable. If you ever heard the phrase Son of God applied to a human, you would know that is the King, that’s the Anointed One. Let’s go back to the Gospels. Mark in particular is very interesting. Mark doesn’t give us the birth of Jesus Christ.
Notice how Mark tries to forefront what he thinks is the most important identity of who Jesus is. He begins at baptism and he starts by quoting the Psalm two. Jesus is baptized and coming up out of the water. This is verse ten. He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. And by the way, I was in Israel recently at a baptismal site that may have been where Jesus was baptized, and white doves are flying by. It’s absolutely amazing. And there came a voice from heaven saying, thou art my beloved Son in whom I was pleased. And we’ve all heard that through the ages. What’s interesting, if we were ancient Israelite living in the time of Jesus, we would know immediately, this is the Messiah, this is the King, this is God’s chosen Anointed One who’s going to be on the throne to bring Sabbath rest. All the chaos of life will be put at bay because of this chosen One. I find those connections very powerful that Mark wants us to know. His testimony of Jesus, among other things, is Jesus is the anointed Messiah, the one who will put to peace all that we have suffered in life.
All the chaos of our life comes right out of the Psalms. Psalms, beautiful.
Now, speaking of chaos of life, recognize that David, King David, is associated with roughly 73 of the 150 Psalms, almost half. And you know something of David’s history and you know something of David’s ability with the music and the harp and the vials and the instruments. He was known as a great musician and songwriter. And so as he gets older in life and he starts to see things more for what they really are, for that which is the world’s perspective versus those things that are real, you see Him shift to many of his Psalms, pleading for mercy, praising the Lord, pleading for forgiveness, and you see it coming through. You can just feel his heart drawing up to heaven, saying, is there hope for me? Is this real? So if you just kind of look at some of these chapter headings, chapter three, david cries unto the Lord and is heard. Salvation is the Lord. David pleads for mercy. Look at five. David asks the Lord to hear his voice. David cries unto the Lord for mercy. Chapter six, seven. David trusts in the Lord, who shall judge the people. And then let’s pause here in eight, a messianic psalm of David.
This is a really profound psalm, actually, where we want to pause for a minute and focus on a couple of verses here. Michael had an experience yesterday with this particular psalm.
I was going through all the psalms that you were going to be talking about, and this is interesting to me. Psalm eight jumped out at me and as I’m reading it has a really famous line about what is man, that thou art mindful of him. And as I was reading through each one of these lines, I pictured David with his guitar or harp, and he’s trying to express, and I’m thinking while he’s expressing his awe of what God has done in this messianic thing, what if I made it into this short song based on these lyrics? And here’s what I came up with.
If God made me a little lower than the angels, if God crowned me with glory in his name, if I’m a ruler or the works of heaven.
Then why does hell make me feel so ashamed?
As I reflect on all that God’s created, what is man, that God’s mindful of me. And so I pray my heart will be aided forevermore to be more mindful of thee.
And I pictured him saying, if he’s mindful of me, maybe the lesson is, how can I be more mindful of you?
That is really profound in that if we’re not careful, the easy temptation to give into is to read scriptures like this and keep a very safe arms distance to say, oh yeah, David, he had serious problems. But I think if the Lord were here, I think he would say, this isn’t about David. The situation with David is between the Lord and David. But these scriptures are preserved and written and brought to us and translated and transmitted through all these generations of time into our world today to become a handbook, more than just a handbook, a handbook for you and me to ask these exact same questions. I need this just as much as David needed this in different ways, but I need this. And that’s a profound reminder.
Thank you, Michael. Now, if we continue through this book is so good, you can literally just drop it open to any one of the psalms with your eyes closed and put your finger down and start reading at random and you’re going to have a good experience. These are powerful words, powerful concepts everywhere you go. So you can kind of look at all of these headings, all of these Davidic psalms. And we want to skip over to the beginning chapters. In the early 20s, Psalm 22 is probably. The so this is just my opinion. It is the most hauntingly, beautiful and symbolic of all of the 150 Psalms. As far as you read this thing, from verse one down to about three quarters of the way through, and you’re saying, wait a minute, this is like the story of Jesus atonement So clearly printed out on the page. Look how it begins. Verse one. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring o my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent.
Notice Jesus in his deepest moment of need, his deepest agony on the cross of Calvary, when he knew that all of his apostles were going to forsake him. He knew that they were going to be scattered and abandon him. So do any of you find it interesting that there in that moment, what does Jesus do? He quotes a psalm. Psalm 22. My God. My God. And by the way, we’ve just barely started. There’s a lot more coming up. Look at verse seven. All they that see me laugh me to scorn. They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying he trusted on the Lord or that he would deliver Him. Let him deliver him, seeing he delighted him. Verse ten. I was cast upon thee from the womb. Thou art my God, from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, for there is none to help you’ll. Notice later on Jesus will reflect back on his infinite atonement by saying things like, I tread the wine press alone. There was none to help me. Notice verse 14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax. It is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a pot shirt, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws. And thou hast brought me into the dust of death, for dogs have compassed me, the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me. They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones. They look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture. Now we need to pause here because what you have going on is you have these Psalms being written centuries before Jesus is even going to be born. And so then we have these events on Calvary’s Hill, all these 700 plus years later, and it causes people to wonder, so did the crucifixion events take place and then the New Testament writers simply look back to the Psalms and say, well, let’s force fit what they wrote and put it in here so that it looks like a messianic fulfillment of what’s in Psalm 22? Or did the psalmist prophesy of exactly what would happen and put it into the handbook and they’re just using the exact wording from the Psalm saying, see, it got fulfilled.
I like that second option way better than the first one, because we do believe in prophecy and revelation. We do believe that God can inspire people hundreds, if not thousands of years before certain events as to what’s going to happen. And so they can record these and now we get their culmination or their fulfillment all those years later in the infinite toning sacrifice.
And isn’t it extraordinary that after laying out the most horrific sense of abandonment that Jesus felt, that all of us could feel, the message of the song goes on to say, and this is why I love verse 22 but I will declare thy name unto my brethren in the midst of the congregation. I’ll praise Thee, ye that fear the Lord. Praise Him all ye the seed of Jacob glorify him and fear Him all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from Him. But when he cried unto Him, he heard this was the promise of the song. And I don’t have the energy to remind you of all of that. But isn’t that the great thing you said at the beginning? The second you hear raindropski falling on my head, you fill in the blanks. The minute you hear that, it’s just so touching.
And look at verse 27, the promise here. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus endures all of this intense suffering and all of the nations are going to eventually get to hear that. And music, by the way, is a big part of this gospel message filling every corner of this earth as we take this message out. Which brings us to Psalm 23, which I could be wrong, but I think it is the single most famous or most widely known of all the Psalms.
And the best of the songs based on I mean, how are you going to do better than the Lord is my shepherd?
And if you contrast what we just saw in Psalm 22, the suffering, the sense of abandonment, the loss, and then redemption and hope, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Now, we live in a society, and most of us are not shepherds. Most of us don’t live that lifestyle. Throughout most human history, shepherds were not seen as the high cost people. But they’re the ones who spent every waking hour and even their sleeping time protecting these innocent and vulnerable animals and doing all their power to help them to be preserved. And this is what God does for us. He brings us into the sheepfold, he brings us into safety. He puts his own body in front of the enemies that would seek to destroy us. He uses his staff and rod to protect us. And with his word, he guides us and he feeds us. So I love the stark contrast between Psalm 22 and 23 because what Jesus did for us is make all of us who will lie down in the death, we’ll be raised again to be brought into the sheepfold, into those pastures where it says, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. I just see the sense of redemption and resurrection that he has promised because of what he suffered in Psalm 22.
When Jesus is teaching the people in John, chapter ten, he is clearly he seems to be referring back to Psalm 23 with phrases like I am the door of the sheep, I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Euka, chapter 23 22. This is who I am, and you know I’m the good shepherd. Because a hiring will never lay down his wife. When he sees the wolf coming, the hiring runs away, not the shepherd. The shepherd stands betwixt you and justice or betwixt you and that impending danger or death. Beautiful connection with John Ten. Each one of you has experienced your own unique set of trials, tribulations, temptations, difficulties. If you look closely one more time at verse four, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Those are powerful words for all kinds of tribulation that can come. Now, Michael, as our special guest today, I think it would be a real treat for people to hear your story of when you ended up in an emergency room and you in the valley of the shadow.
That was not on your day planner for that day to go to the emergency room, but nonetheless, there you were.
Yeah, I didn’t see it coming. It was 10:00 at night and I started to feel these horrible pains on my chest and shooting stuff down my arm. And I said, Lynn, I think I might be having a heart attack. And she said, I had my melatonin. Could we just wait till tomorrow? I think I know something maybe wrong. Rolls her eyes she’s a nurse, which I think is hilarious, and she rolls her eyes and she said, well, let’s take your blood pressure. 225 over 120. I mean, like, I’m on my way out. So we raced to the emergency room and it was covet and they didn’t have any beds. So they’re trying scrambling to find a hospital that has a cardiologist so that maybe we can take care of. And they talk you down, everyone talks you down. Because my blood pressure was so high, they’re saying, we’ll get you to the emergency room and get you to the cath lab and they make it sound like it’s no big deal. And I think this is what it was like for me in the pre mortal world. Some guy said, it’s not going to be that hard, you’re going to have a few challenges, and through your righteousness no, it was 395 percent, 98% blocked vessels.
So I’m in my valley of the shadow of death and I get to the hospital and I meet my cardiologist and all the team that are with him. And here’s the thing that so moved me about this experience. No one said to me when I got to the hospital, why are you here? Weren’t you listening when we told you you should exercise more and you’ve been eating how many burgers? And we warned you you should not be none of that. You know what I got. Thanks for coming the second you felt something was wrong. Let us heal you. Let us make you well. No one criticized the past that got me there. Nobody questioned. I was surrounded by love and technical people who had prepared themselves for a lifetime.
He healed me.
And I thought, if I get a chance, ever get a chance, and someone comes, whether it’s to church or to my house or anyone else, and says I’m broken. I want my spirit to follow that example. Get in here, let’s make it better.
Oh, that we could have all of our wards and stakes feel like that hospital for sinners to welcome everybody in. And instead of making them feel guilty about what they should or should not have been doing work on healing today. Look at verse five. Thou preparest a table before me and for us, when we go to church with those broken hearts and needing to be healed, the table that is prepared holds the sacrament that’s been prepared to exactly do what we’re talking about, to help heal hearts in the presence of my enemies. That table was prepared. And now anointist my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It’s this beautiful psalm of the soul. Now look at Psalm 24. It begins, this idea of the earth being the lords and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein, for he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods. And then he asked a really important question that is a very this is a temple ascension psalm.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? Who is allowed to walk up those steps and get closer and closer and closer into the presence of God is what this psalm is asking. And then David responds, he that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully so you’ll notice it’s not just about what it’s requiring of us to come up those steps and go into the temple. Look at what you get. Verse five. He shall receive the blessings from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him that seek thy face o.
Jacob, that’s so beautiful. Each of these, I think, are the most exquisite examples of tender mercy.
I believe for forever that a song is a gift. It can heal your spirit with the power to lift though the tune may be simple it can run so deep teaching lessons like this one that woke me from my sleep it’s one I’m.
Going to keep.
A tender mercy has.
Come to me it came from heaven.
I do believe it seems like whenever.
I choose to see.
God’s tender mercies shine down on me if you’re out there and listening and you’re wondering why there’s a feeling inside you kind of makes you want to cry well. Perhaps you’re reminded of a memory or two when God’s tender mercies were poured down on you.
But then maybe you’re thinking. Mike. This hurts too much with your unanswered.
Prayers you’re feeling out of touch.
I wish I could be there and help you hang on till that day when your heart can’t help singing this.
Song I know you’ll sing it strong.
Because a tender mercy has come to me it came from heaven oh. Yes. I do believe maybe why I was chosen is because I chose to see God’s tender mercies are for those who believe god’s tender mercies.
Are for you.
And for me.
It ties in perfectly to Psalm 25. One of my favorite verses anywhere in the Old Testament. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindness for they have been ever of old. We’ve talked in past lessons that the Hebrew word is hessid, or everlasting mercy, everlasting kindness. God promises to Abraham and all of his posterity. God made an unbreakable and eternal promise to make his Hessid eternally available to all of his children who choose to receive it. Look at verse 14 in Psalm 25. The seeker of the Lord is with them that fear him or respect him or have chosen him. And he will show them his covenant meaning. He will show this promise that he made so many centuries ago to Abraham and to so many other faithful people that his hessid is unbreakable and everlastingly available to everybody who chooses to receive the free gift.
Let’s jump over now to chapter 27, Psalm 27, where many of you will recognize this phrase the Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? Hymn number 89 in our hymn book comes straight out of Psalm 27, verse one. Jump down to verse four. One thing have I desired of the Lord that will I seek. After that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. It’s this idea of being under his pavilion in the next verse, this tabernacle to hide me and upon his rock to build this beautiful foundation. And you’re sitting there thinking, yes, yes, amen. That’s what all of us want. But there are plenty of you who are watching this who are knowingly nodding your head, saying it’s not always quite that simple. Sometimes even the very best of people doing the very best of things with the very best of intentions can actually feel completely cut off forsaken of the Lord Jesus being the ultimate example of that.
But the idea here of David spent plenty of time outside of the Lord’s presence. And now you see him pleading for God to always have His Spirit, to be with Him as he moves forward in life because he’s tasted of some pretty rough experiences.
I used to think that as a songwriter that my job was to find ways to musicalize my spiritual experiences to help other people. Songs like You’re Not Alone to help remind people. I thought that was my gift. I’m here to help you all out. What I did not realize is it wasn’t until I had a nine year long faith crisis where I felt abandoned I didn’t think Heavenly Father was hearing any of my prayers because I’d recognize the spirit throughout my life and I know that God does answer prayers. Now I’m asking the most important prayers in my life as a father, as a husband, as a disciple. Nothing. I’m not feeling anything. And I’m agonizing about it. And I’m trying to say I’m embarrassed to say this, but you try to blackmail God. Look, I made movies seen by hundreds of millions of people that I wrote and directed from Mr. Kruger’s Christ to the missionary department. Films I have witnessed of the truth, of the restoration. I think you owe me. And I think you not only owe me, I think you owe me the way I want to hear it. I’ve decided that there’s a God in heaven, but you better answer me the way I need to.
And nothing. And I was living in California during the time and it was a very difficult period for me. And a book had just come out by Mother Teresa about her faith crisis. She had gone. I couldn’t believe this as I was reading it. 49 years claiming in letters that she wrote to those she confessed to I don’t feel the spirit anymore like I did when I became a nun. What am I doing wrong? How have I failed? How have I let you down? And I can’t tell anybody about this because I don’t want to hurt their faith. I’m the face of the Catholic Church. I don’t want to hurt anybody. But I don’t know what to do. And I’m reading this. Trust me. I’m not Mother Teresa. And I love that woman. And I grew up in Chicago in the largest Catholic diocese in America. I was surrounded in high school with Catholics who are my dear, dear friends and loved her. And then I go to bed one night, and I think I kind of get her. Who can I tell? I mean, I wrote songs about hold on, the light will come and you’re not alone.
And I don’t want to hurt anybody’s faith, but I’m starting to wonder if I got it all wrong. What am I going to do? Go on a concert tour and say, Just kidding. You are alone. Don’t hold on. The light’s not coming. I mean, it was a really challenging time for me, and I had a dream. Now, don’t misunderstand this. It’s not like moroni the edge of my bed. This was a dream, okay? But Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun comes to the Mormon songwriter in his dream and sings her life. And in my dream, we’re in this theater, and I happened. I have a piano. And I know Mother Teresa’s songs. And I think, how come I know her songs? She’s singing her whole life story in my dream. And then it comes to the big moment in musical theater. They call it the 11:00 number, the big anchor of what this Is All about. And I hear her sing, and I’m accompanying her, and she sings. I choose to pray to one who doesn’t hear me. I choose to wait for love that he conceals and though God’s chosen for now not to be near me, I’m keeping promises.
My heart no longer feels like I wake up 430 in the morning and I’m sobbing. And I realized this has nothing to do with Mother Teresa. What about me? Am I having gone two years feeling nothing? Am I willing to keep my promises when I don’t feel anything, when I don’t hear anything? So this was my I call it my most profound covenant moment. Not in a baptismal font, not in the temple of our God, Mike McClain on his knees and a little house in the hills in Malibu. And I just said Heavenly Father. And I sounded a little bit like a guy in the AA meetings. Oh, God. Or higher power. I said, I don’t even know if you’re there being really authentic, and I hope it doesn’t offend anybody. But I just said here’s the deal. I’m going to quit praying and whining and moaning about why you won’t talk to me, but I’m going to covenant.
That I’ll keep the promises. I haven’t felt anything. I’m starting to wonder if I got it all wrong and this is embarrassing. But while I’m saying all this, I’m thinking in the back of my head, this is a great prayer. Oh, my gosh, my faith crisis. Oh, my gosh. This will be over in six weeks.
I could give talks in church about this. Well, it wasn’t six or seven weeks. It was seven more years. It got harder. It got harder because how long do you want me to hang on? And how did my Father in heaven answer my nine year long prayer with psalms? The reason I get so animated about the Psalms of David and the reason that I think it’s so important and the reason I see things in a slightly different way is because for ten days, brothers and sisters, in my little studio, I didn’t leave my studio for ten days. There was like, a download of songs. I was wondering, what’s Jesus really like? Did I just make up some idea or borrow some idea? What’s Jesus really like? And for ten days, it was like people who said, oh, I know him. I knew him in the New Testament. He kicked me out of the temple. You want to know what I think of Jesus song? Oh, I’m the woman that he brought back from the dead. You want to know what I think of Him song? And I’m going through and reviewing all of the characters in the New Testament, and it’s like they come into my office and they say, you think you’re.
Having a faith crisis?
Don’t think you’re the only one who’s been to this motel. But what happened is Jesus gave me the perfect answer I needed in the perfect way. He fulfilled prophecies in the same order Isaiah had done it. And John the Baptist gave me a song and said, that’s what I learned from a song called Looking for Something Else. And then I started to think, wait a minute. This makes me very emotional. In the songs that heaven had sent me were the answers to nine years of prayers. And I thought, if Jesus answered a prophet, john the Baptist was fulfilled prophecies, what would be more perfect than he answered a songwriter with songs? And I started to think, well, I can’t imagine that Jesus treats me with the same kind of intimacy and the same kind of personalness that he treated John the Baptist. That can’t be right. And that’s my moment of kind of being born again, I guess. The spirit said, Are you kidding? I love you exactly as much as I love John the Baptist. Let your heart believe it and feel it. So when I hear psalms, whether they were a gift to help me see the Gospel in a richer way, or whether we read the Psalms and I get an AHA while I’m sitting here and go, oh, maybe it’s about this, my Father in heaven found a way to speak to me uniquely.
And you may not be a songwriter, and this may not be the way that he communicates with you, but I’m here to bear testimony along with my dear friends, that he does love you. And you will know his answers come from him because they’ll be perfect, in a way that’s your language, your kind of song in your head, your kind of background, you’ll know he knows you that individually and perfectly and that everything in these scriptures are designed to testify. In a way, we’ll understand that it’s all real.
Come Follow Me Insights
Taylor, Tyler and special guest Michael McLean (who surprises us with a musical number) discuss the first forty-six chapters of the ancient temple hymn book, the book of Psalms.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Taylor Halverson explains Psalms and how it teaches us to show our covenantal loyalty and love to God.
John Hilton III informs us that the book of Psalms has many connections to The Book of Mormon.
Casey Griffiths reveals instances in the New Testament when Jesus Christ quotes the book of Psalms.
Marianna Richardson describes methods that can make reading the book of Psalms easier.
Lynne Hilton Wilson dives into Psalms 31 & 32 and the symbolism they have with the temple and the Savior.
Jasmin Rappleye focuses in on Psalm 46 and how each section builds upon the previous one, and increases our appreciation for God’s steadfastness in the face of uncertainties.
Annette Tillemann-Dick teaches that God has called people to prophesy specifically with music.