23 July 2008

a few thoughts on psalms...

over the past couple months i've quested to read through the old testament in order to brush up for my upcoming ot class with ellen davis this fall. reading the bible 'cover to cover' has been quite enlightening. previously i hadn't had the muster to get through leviticus/numbers. this time i pushed through...

reading this way, and in large chunks consecutively has reinforced the narrative nature of scripture and given me much more context to work with than my previous study that skipped from book to book or passage to passage. i realize that certain passages need to be dealt with with more or less attention to detail and that the Holy Spirit certainly brings certain places in scripture to our attention at certain times, but bang-for-my-buck, motoring through front-to-back is a worthy endeavor from time to time.

here are a couple things from my reading of psalms that stuck out this time more than previous attempts:

  • psalms are raw.
    • there are even seemingly contradictory moments in psalms. not to despair, king david cannot be disqualified because at times he pines for peace and justice and times he bloodies his fist in battle. my reading of 1 sam and 2 sam prior really made these psalms make sense in light of his exploits. david shows his strength and his vulnurability often within a couple of verses.
  • we often use psalms terribly out of context.
    • it occurred to me while studying how many times if read myself into the psalms. while this lens is certainly viable, i'm not so sure i really deserve to pray intense prayers of justice and mercy and people stalking me and trying to take my life, when those aren't literally my experiences. i think it's a shame that the book of psalms has become for many toilet seat literature and verse of the day calenders to give me an extra boost when i encounter "mockers" and "the valley of the shadow of death" on a daily basis. don't get me wrong, our god who saves, is with us and does care and david's prayers are evidence of all that, but i think we should consider the gravity of david's writing (ie. on the run, for his life, from his own son/looking over his shoulder for Saul around every corner).
  • psalms are musical (duh)
    • the wealth of musical instuments mentioned and tablature resonates with me. as one of God's least musical creatures i still connect through music (liturgical and 'secular', alike) better than almost any other medium. great to know that the 'man after God's own heart' was a lyre-wielding choirboy. (probably more of a folky-mandolin type, i think).
Just a couple things that stuck out to me. more to come, onward and upward to proverbs, etc...

1 comment:

AJ said...

Hey, thanks for updating this blog with this cool look at psalms. I too am going through the bible cover to cover, I just started Judges (made it through levit and deut, yikes that was trying). Although I took about a 3 month hiatus for no good reason, but im back on the ball and looking forward to experiencing the OT as a whole. I was challenged by a friend to read it after her remarked "you are basing your whole life on something youve never read all the way through..." eesh. Good point. So i started...

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