Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Psalms

Two things stand out to me as I begin reading through the Psalms.  The first is that the Psalms are not meant to be read through quickly, which is ironic, because when you read through the Bible in a year you read everything quickly.  Maybe that's why the Psalms have never been one of my favorite parts of the Bible; I read them too fast.  I know...I can hear the gasps and see the nodding heads of disapproval.  If it makes you feel better, I don't get it when people say they don't like the book of Judges.

The second thing that stands out to me as I begin reading through the Psalms is how fearless the psalmists are when holding God accountable to his apparent absence.  I like the way N. T. Wright puts this.

But, for the Psalmist, the sense of a void, an emptiness where there ought to be a Presence, isn't something to accept calmly as the way things simply are.  It is something to complain at, to jump up and down about.  "Wake up, YHWH!" shouts the Psalmist, like someone standing at the foot of the bed, hands on hips, looking crossly at a sleeping form.  (That is of course how the disciples addressed Jesus, asleep in the boat during the storm.)  "It's time to get up and do something about this mess!" -Simply Christian, 163.

That, to me, is many of the Psalms in a nut shell, which is why the Psalms are a prayer book for so many.  Much of life is spent trusting in God while also shouting, "Wake up!"  The Psalms live and breath in the midst of that tension.  They give permission for us to do the same.

Stopping point: Psalm 8

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