Thanks for joining us for Part 2! If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.
Here are some resources for filling in the gaping whole. This is pretty much the opposite of an exhaustive list, so please feel free to share any books, music, videos, etc. that have helped you dive into the Psalms, either personally, organizationally, or congregationally.
Just put the titles or links in the comment section below. Also, if you have developed any resources for using the Psalms in your context, please feel free to share them with the community here. Thanks so much!
A note for those working in a Muslim context
I serve in a Buddhist/animist context, which maybe explains why I have not studied Islam to any depth. Therefore, please consider this a request for info and certainly not didactic.
Recently, a friend serving in a Muslim context told me, “My Muslim friends are VERY resistant to studying Jesus or the New Testament in general; but the Psalms are much less threatening.” He went on to explain that in his context, the word used in the Bible for the Psalms is the word for poetry, which his friends absolutely love. He went on to say that many of his friends had been through tremendous suffering and things they considered extremely shameful. We discussed the possibility of beginning with Poetry. Specifically, the Poetry that discusses pain and shame and points to Jesus. Martin Luther referred to the Psalms as “the little Bible,” so maybe it would be a good place to start!
Would something like that work in your context? Perhaps you’re doing this already. In any case, I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!
Now, on to some quotes!
The Case for the Psalms: Why They are Essential, N.T. Wright
“The celebration is wild and uninhibited; the misery is deep and horrible. One moment we are chanting, perhaps clapping our hands in time, even stamping our feet. . . . The next moment we have tears running down our cheeks, and we want the earth to open and swallow us.”
“The Psalms not only insist that we are called to live at the intersection of God’s space and our space, of heaven and earth, to be (in other words) Temple people. They call us to live at the intersection of sacred space, the Temple and the holy land that surrounds it, and the rest of human space, the world where idolatry and injustice still wreak their misery.”
“The Psalms are among the oldest poems in the world, and they still rank with any poetry in any culture, ancient or modern, from anywhere in the world. They are full of power and passion, horrendous misery and unrestrained jubilation, tender sensitivity and powerful hope. Anyone at all whose heart is open to new dimensions of human experience, anyone who loves good writing, anyone who wants a window into the bright lights and dark corners of the human soul – anyone open to the beautiful expression of a larger vision of reality should react to these poems like someone who hasn’t had a good meal for a week or two. It’s all here.”
“The Psalms are the steady, sustained subcurrent of healthy Christian living.”
“Scripture is not simply a reference book to which we turn to look up correct answers – though it’s full of those when we need them. Scripture is, at its heart, the great story that we sing in order not just to learn it with our heads but to become part of it through and through, the story that in turn becomes part of us.”
“If the Psalms provide a sense of sacred space, that space is where celebration and sorrow are held together within the powerful love and presence of the one God.”
The Psalms: the Prayer Book of the Bible, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church.”
“The Psalter impregnated the life of early Christianity.”
“That can be very painful, to want to speak with God and not to be able to.” [Bonhoeffer saw this moment as the best time to pray the Psalms.]
“There is in the Psalms no quick and easy resignation to suffering. There is always struggle, anxiety, doubt. God’s righteousness which allows the pious to be met by misfortune but the godless to escape free, even God’s good and gracious will, is undermined. His behavior is too difficult to grasp. But even in the deepest hopelessness God alone remains the one addressed. . . . He sets out to do battle against God for God.”
“If I am guilty, why does God not forgive me? If I am not guilty, why does he not bring my misery to an end and thus demonstrate my innocence to my enemies? There are no theoretical answers in the Psalms to all these questions. As there are none in the New Testament. The only real answer is Jesus Christ.”
“I used to read five psalms every day – that teaches me how to get along with God. Then I read a chapter of Proverbs every day and that teaches me how to get along with my fellow man.”
“The Psalter promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly – and pictures his kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom – that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.”
Songs from the Heart: Emotions in the Psalms, a fantastic article by Richard Vincent
The Psalms: A Reentry Handbook, by Robynn Bliss
A devotional journey through Psalm 13, developed for a two-hour quiet retreat for overseas workers in Cambodia: Finding a song in Psalm 13
A wonderful song (and story) from Psalm 84
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (online edition)
Out of the Pit and Back Again, (a reflection on Psalm 40), by Jennifer May
Please feel free to share more resources below. Thanks!
- In 2017, Get to Know Some Dead People - January 3, 2017
- A Christmas letter to parents, from a kid who doesn’t have any - December 2, 2016
- It’s Not All About War: Balancing our Kingdom Rhetoric - November 3, 2016
- When God Won’t Give Me What I Want - October 11, 2016
- Go to the small places - September 4, 2016