While much modern scholarship has tended to “despiritualize” the Psalms, this collaboration by three evangelical scholars carefully attends to the two voices of the Holy Spirit—heard infallibly in Scripture and edifyingly in the church’s response.
The Psalms as Christian Lament, a sequel to The Psalms as Christian Worship, uniquely blends verse-by-verse commentary with a history of Psalms interpretation in the church to examine 10 lament psalms, including the seven traditional penitential psalms. Though C. S. Lewis called the “imprecatory” psalms “contemptible,” Waltke, Houston, and Moore show that they too are profitable for sound doctrine and so for spiritual health.
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“Other religions can explain human calamity and destruction as the work of demons and evil powers, but in Israel the sufferings of human life lie ultimately under the sovereignty of God. This is why the laments of the psalmist are always God-directed, never in complaint to other sources, even when the psalmist can complain like a crime detective, ‘Who-did-it?’ Even when the character of God seems to be in contradiction to the evil inflicted upon the complainant, the end result is a deeper trust and more perceptive knowledge gained of God. This is why, also, the voices of lament and even of protest are at one and the same time the voice of praise.” (Pages 9–10)
“But, unlike the psalmist, Christians rejoice in their suffering, and this for two reasons. First, Christians, more so than the psalmists, know that undeserved sufferings produce virtues (Rom. 5:3–5; Jas. 1:2–3; 1 Pet. 1:7). And second, because Jesus Christ ‘has brought life and immortality to light’ through his death for sin, burial, and authenticated resurrection (2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:3–8), they know better than the psalmist that great is the reward in heaven of those who are persecuted because of righteousness and faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 5:10–12; 1 Pet. 4:13). Francis Bacon said well: ‘Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carries the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.’” (Pages xii–xiii)
“A fourth element is that while God is the infinite Giver, he is also the Author of suffering, both of deserved and undeserved pain.” (Page 9)
Bruce K. Waltke is distinguished professor of Old Testament at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and professor emeritus of biblical studies at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. He is the author of numerous books and Old Testament commentaries, including works on Genesis, Proverbs, and Micah.
James M. Houston is founding principal and former chancellor of Regent College and was the college’s first professor of spiritual theology. His books include Joyful Exiles: Life in Christ on the Dangerous Edge of Things and Letters of Faith through the Seasons: A Treasury of Great Christians’ Correspondence.
Erika Moore is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania.