Rebel Yell: 31 Psalms Revisited

Psalms, God and rock ‘n’ roll.

31 psalms from the Bible, 31 songs from the charts, 31 stories about life, faith, God and pop music.

An easy, honest, relevant look at the Psalms and their connection with contemporary life.

Praise for Dave’s writing:

‘The Bible as you’ve never read it before.’

‘Yet again Dave has shown his wonderful ability of taking Bible passages and bringing them to life in a contemporary way to a post-modern audience.’

‘Refreshingly and even disturbingly honest…’

An extract from the book

Track 1: Psalm 139 – What a Waste [Ian Dury and the Blockheads]

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous - and how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable!
18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

As you can see I’ve started with psalm 139 (a bit like those old church service books where you turn to the first page and find you’re already on page number 37). This is a great celebration of the unique nature of the individual. This isn’t the only bit of the Bible where the writer bashes on about God creating us of course, but it seems to me that this is a very good place to begin. Not so we can argue with people about just how God wired us up and whether he did it in 7 days or 7 seconds etc. But to celebrate the very fact that I am not you and you are not me.

In the song What a Waste Ian Dury listed a whole raft of jobs he might have done, then observed his life would have been a total waste had he not done what he was born to do, that is - play the fool in a 6-piece band.
One of the remarkable things about Ian Dury was that, in spite of a difficult life – he contracted polio at the age of 7 and was in a plaster cast for 6 weeks - he managed to write a party-bag full of songs that not only celebrated life, but sent it up too. Reasons to be Cheerful could well be a psalm from the 70’s, listing all the wonderful things about life, and exulting us to be happy about the quirky, the weird, the great and the good.
And certainly, when I’ve come out of church frustrated and bewildered yet again, after another service which felt far too much like school and had very little relevance to real life, there’s nothing quite like a loud rendition of Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick, to put a little perspective back into life.

Of course if you have ended up lost in no man’s land, or are at least temporarily stuck there at the moment then there’s little comfort in some of these words. At the time of writing the future us unknown for us, I know what I would love to do, and what I believe I have been wired up to do. I have the luxury of a few months to explore this, try things, push doors etc. But nothing is guaranteed and I feel the pressure of wondering what others will think of my lack of careful planning.

And will it work out? Can I do it? Life is precarious. I have seen my friends go through good and bad times, rich and poor times. Some of them have seen their dreams come true and are doing things they love, others are trapped in jobs and lifestyles which drag them down. The writers of the Bible are sure of two things. That a compassionate, interested God created this world and everything in it.

And that life does not go according to plan. We may map out our days and months and years, but we cannot control everything. We all of us find ourselves down blind alleys and up garden paths.

I once knew of someone who took some time out to go and live in a hut in the Swiss Alps. A mad thing to do by all accounts, and the isolated experience nearly finished him off. But he had to do it, and he came through it. Most people I know would never dream of doing that. But for him it was the next thing he had to do.

If life does not punch our lights out then we do our best to keep following those dreams, keep chasing those hopes, keep battling against the odds (and the crowd) to achieve those things God has placed in our hearts and minds. Though it is never the easy route and others may not understand.

When Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem the next step was obvious to everyone. Ride that wave Jesus and become king. But it wasn’t the obvious thing to Jesus. He had his eyes on another prize. He turned away from the crowd and went on another journey.

‘I chose to play the fool in a six piece band, first night nerves every one night stand, I should be glad to be so inclined, what a waste, what a waste, but I don’t mind.’

Top 3 reasons I often conform and maybe miss out:

3. Laziness
2. Doubts
1. Fear of other people