The Psalms have been used as a source of spiritual refreshment and private devotion, as well as part of public worship, by both Jewish and Christian believers throughout the centuries. For many, they have been a treasury of faith to be drawn on in every situation in life, giving expression to every mood of the believer—from despair to serenity. They have also been taken by many as models of prayer and paraphrased in many hymns. Such use of the Psalms has often been selective: particular Psalms have been chosen as models because they have been thought to express particular articles of belief, or because they embody particular religious emotions.
One of the most significant ways in which the Psalter has been used and is still used today is the practice of reading or reciting it, for purposes of meditation, consecutively, from beginning to end. In doing this, readers find themselves caught up in worship, not merely into moods, but successively into a variety of moods. This book by Norman Whybray explores the meaning of the Psalms as a whole—as a complete book to be read, learned from, and studied collectively.
R. Norman Whybray was Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies at the University of Hull. His other publications include The Second Isaiah, The Good Life in the Old Testament, and The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study, available in the Pentateuch History and Origins Collection (10 Vols.).