This week I'm doing a brief study on the Psalms, with the intention of giving a broad overview of the entire book... in less than an hour!
Oh well, despite the daunting task, I did find some great summative comments about the Psalms. Here are a few passages I came across while preparing:
“The Psalms, Calvin said, are a virtual textbook of the human soul, the central text in biblical psychology. As such, the Psalms give expression to all the experiences of the Christian life; they give words to our pains, joys, afflictions, despair, and by giving language to our experience they bring those experiences under description, make them knowable as our Father’s loving care for us.
The Psalms are also a textbook of prayer, frequently employing language that is unnerving in its vehemence. Psalms indicate that an overwhelming desire for justice should animate our prayers, that we should express our disappointments with honesty, that prayer is not ‘quiet time’ but a time of wrestling and passion.” (Peter Leithart, Against Christianity)
These comments by Leithart really struck me a few years ago when I first read them. They still do. I sense that I need the Psalms. They are the expression I'm looking for.
Last night, to my delight, I found the Calvin quote Leithart was referencing:
“There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.” (Joshua. Psalms 1-35)
A mirror. The Psalms are a mirror into our soul. Anyone get an inkling to look into this mirror? Anyone sense an urgency to do so?
Finally, here are some comments that Tremper Longman, III made about the Psalms
“As we read a psalm, the psalm’s emotional expression becomes a kind of foil to our own state of mind… the psalmist could express the reader’s feelings in a way far better than the reader could. In this way the psalms articulate our feelings and become a model prayer to us. They give us words by which we may address God.” (A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible)
The psalms are a foil to our own state of mind. They express our feelings, often times better than we can ourselves. They articulate our feelings.
Let me add to these ideas that the Psalms read us. Oh, no doubt we read them, but what happens is they read us. They speak into us. They speak for us. They utter what is in us, because they speak with the authority of their inspirational God.
Been read lately? In what way? Let me know if you get the opportunity.