The psalms contain the emotions of the soul and portray the experiences of life, but they also direct us god-ward. If we only read the psalms in a personal or internal way, we miss something important.
And yet reading the Psalms in a god-ward way does not make our reading impersonal. John Calvin begins his Institutes by asking the question: Do we start with God or with man? It is nearly impossible to answer that, since one always leads to the other. When we start with ourselves and our weaknesses, we turn to God who is our strength. When we start with God, we come to know ourselves truly. For Calvin, “it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he [has] previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself” (Bk 1., Ch 1., §2).
The Psalms uniquely contemplate the face of God. They record divine conversations of the Trinity, of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father. We may wonder how the Father and Son talk to each other since they are both God. To some degree, the Psalms satisfy our wonder, as they pull back the veil, as it were, and let us listen to the Trinity speak.