Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reflections on the Psalms

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fresh perspective on themes in Psalms (judgment, cursing others, death, dealing with wicked people, the Lord's beauty, nature, praise, Scripture, and second meanings). Lewis's routine approach is to lay out the problem he had with each theme, and then to explain the new understanding that he arrived at. Following are a couple of my notes.

1: “Judgement” in the Psalms
We moderns fear judgment. We don’t look forward to God’s judgment. But the ancient Hebrews rejoiced in it and talked of it fondly in the Psalms. The difference is that we think of ourselves as defendants, but they thought of themselves as plaintiffs. They were looking forward to God coming and judging their oppressors, that they would finally get justice. They would identify with the widow in Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge (Lk 18:1-8).

9: A Word about Praising
Lewis early on as a Christian was bothered by the repeated calls to praise in the Psalms and the notion that God demanded our praise. But praising God is a means of enjoying him. Praising him completes our enjoyment of him. Our world and our lives are full of praise. Enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. We praise a multitude of things, favorite poets, creation’s beauty, our children, etc. What’s more, we try to get others to admire what we delight in. “Isn’t she beautiful?” “Wasn’t that cool?” Praise not only expresses enjoyment, it completes it. “It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with.” Glorifying God and enjoying him are the same thing. “In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

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