Posted October 31, 2006
Book: Psalms through the Year: Spiritual Exercises for Every Day
Author: Marshall D. Johnson
Augsburg Books, Minneapolis, MN. 2006. Pp. 393
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
The unique daily devotional proceeds in sequence from Psalm I to Psalm 150 through the whole of the biblical book, with texts divided into one unit for each day of the year.
By reading one page each day, along with the assigned psalm text from the Bible, readers will be comforted and strengthened as they gain a better understanding of the concerns and themes of the psalmists of old.
An Excerpt from the Book:
Boasting Before the Fall
Complaining about braggarts is a tricky business; it can backfire. Our psalmist bitterly vituperates against a powerful evildoer (verses 1-5), and he looks forward to the downfall of the presumptuous boaster when the righteous will rejoice and mock (verses 6-7). But then the psalmist proceeds to boast about his own piety — and has the audacity to present his boast to God! It reminds us of the comment by Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism (1711):
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Is the psalmist’s certainty of the downfall of the boaster well founded? The relation between pride and power in Western politics in recent years has resulted in much damage to the common good. Politicians of all stripes use half-truths, innuendo, and character assassination to gain positions where they can affect the well-being of millions of people. The psalmist’s complaint about someone whose “tongue is like a sharp razor,” who works treachery, and who lives “evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth” (verses 1-2) seems like part of a political campaign. As with the psalmist of old, we cry out, How long, O Lord?
Pride often goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). But sometimes the “vice of fools” persists far too long.
Cleanse my thoughts and my words, O Lord. Amen.
Table of Contents:
A Short Introduction to the Psalms
The Origin of the Psalms and their Major Types
The Psalms as Hebrew Poetry
The Present Edition of the Book of Psalms
Two Ongoing Issues of Interpretation
Major Motifs of the Psalms
For Further Reading