The Psalms express the most elemental human emotions, representing situations in which people are most vulnerable, ecstatic, or driven to the extremities of life and faith. Many people may be familiar with a few Psalms, or sing them as part of worship. Here highly respected author Walter Brueggemann offers readers an additional use for the Psalms: as scripted prayers we perform to help us reveal ourselves to God.
Brueggemann explores the rich historical, literary, theological, and spiritual content of the Psalms while focusing on various themes such as praise, lament, violence, and wisdom. He skillfully describes Israel’s expression of faith as sung through the Psalms, situates the Psalmic liturgical tradition in its ancient context, and encourages contemporary readers to continue to perform them as part of their own worship experiences. Brueggemann’s masterful take on the Psalms as prayers will help readers to unveil their hopes and fears before God and, in turn, feel God’s grace unveiled to them.
Learn more about biblical interpretation with Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church (6 vols.).
“These, then, are my two opening questions: (1) Why do we cling to the Psalter and (2) why do we so aggressively limit the parts of the Psalter to which we cling? Or, put differently, we might ask: why do we have a love-hate relationship with the Psalms? Why are we so ambivalent about this script of faith?” (Page 9)
“This ‘though’ is a well-grounded, adamant refusal to participate in the anxiety that is all around.” (Page 17)
“Pennebaker has demonstrated that honest disclosure, especially in writing, has very real benefits for physical and mental health.” (Page xix)
“Second, our closely held world of anxiety rooted in scarcity evokes an ideology of greed” (Page 11)
“The fact that it is God who hears these secrets makes their telling that much more important, that much more fraught, that much more risky and dangerous. The divine presence is not always nonanxious, benevolent, and nonjudgmental!23 And so, telling secrets in such a presence makes disclosure that much more difficult. How far can we go? How much is permissible? The Psalms suggest that we can go the whole way, that it is all permissible: the praise, yes, but also the grief, the sorrow, the anger, the rage, the cursing. The Psalms disclose all that, and, in their reperformance, manifest it. They are the locus and script of and for our full disclosure before God.” (Page xxiii)
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