Writing Your Own Psalm Testimony

When David was fleeing from King Saul, who was jealous over David’s success as a warrior, he sought refuge in the Philistine city of Gath (1 Sam. 21:10). He must have thought that he would be safe there—away from the clutches of his royal foe. But David was soon recognized by the Philistine enemy and he realized that he was in great danger.

What was David to do? He could not flee. To fight would mean certain death at the hands of the Philistines. As his mind raced over the options, David decided to take a chance. He would try play acting. Perhaps he could convince the Philistines that he was a harmless lunatic. If so, they might release him.

So David began playing the part of a madman. He put on a silly grin, letting his saliva run down onto his beard and scribbling on the city gate. David no longer looked like a military hero. He looked like a fool! It was clear to the Philistine king Achish that David was no threat. He rebuked his servants, “Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me?” (1 Sam. 21:14). The gates of Gath were opened and David was set free.

How could David best thank God for His intervention in his behalf? How could he let others know how God had delivered him? How could he encourage his fellow Israelites to share in his praise and worship of Almighty God?

David knew the answer. A psalm. A Psalm Testimony! Yes, a poetic expression of praise would be the best way to make a public statement of God’s greatness in delivering His servant. So as David journeyed from Gath to safer regions of Judah, he began composing a psalm in praise of God’s deliverance. We know David’s testimony today as Psalm 34. “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Oh magnify Yahweh with me, and let us exalt His name forever.”

During my years of teaching at Western Seminary it has been my privilege to introduce students to the book of Psalms, known in Hebrew as Sefer Tehellim, “the book of praises.” In studying this book we discover that “praise” in the Hebrew sense of the word (yadah) is the “public acknowledgment or declaration of God’s greatness or goodness” (Psa. 22:22). This unique word is used throughout the book of Psalms for giving public acknowledgement of God’s character and activity—what He is like (attributes) and what He has done (actions).

While we can appreciate and use the psalms written by David and other biblical authors, it is exciting to create your own public declaration of praise through a Psalm Testimony.

Psalm 100:4 reveals that God desires the public praise of His people. And the author of Hebrews encourages this kind of praise when he states, “Through Him let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks (literally “confess” or “give acknowledgment)” to His name” (Heb. 13:15).

While we can appreciate and use the psalms written by David and other biblical authors, it is exciting to create your own public declaration of praise through a Psalm Testimony. Over the many years that I have been teaching Psalms I have invited my students to write their own Psalm Testimony. After creating their own psalm based on a personal experience, I have had them read their psalm in class, fulfilling the biblical injunction to “praise the Lord.” These presentations have had a powerful impact both on the presenters and the listeners whose view of God has been enhanced through the public declaration of God’s greatness and goodness, His attributes and His actions.

I have wondered how much more exciting Sunday worship might be if at each worship service someone would be invited to share their own Psalm Testimony, declaring in a new and fresh way how God is at work today in the lives of His people!

If you are interested in exploring the idea of writing your own Psalm Testimony, I have written a short book that is available for free. I would encourage you to download the book and learn how you can write your own Psalm Testimony and encourage others to praise the Lord after the biblical pattern.

Download My Psalm Testimony by Dr. Carl Laney.


About J. Carl Laney

J. Carl Laney teaches Biblical Literature at Western Seminary and is an instructor for Western's Israel Study Program. Carl has authored numerous books, including most recently, “Discipleship: Training from the Master Disciple Maker” (2018).