On the Psalms

Reverend Francis RitchieBible, Spiritual DisciplinesLeave a Comment


A thought on the Psalms from a book I’m reading by Esther De Waal. It resonates with where I have been heading in how I read them…

He then goes on to speak of the ‘rugged and concrete emotiveness of the Psalms’ compared with the slick informational functionality of language today. They must be understood as poetry – as prayers in poetry, with their own peculiar nuances and rhythm and all, their range of images. The monk does not cut them up into parts, segments, but embraces them whole. The Rule [of Benedict] asks for the whole Psalter to be prayed; Benedict does not select in the way that we do today. One of the things the Psalms can do for us is to reveal to us hidden aspects of our own reality. In the image used by Athanasius, they are like a mirror in which we suddenly catch a glimpse of our own inner processes. ‘There can be no prayer of any depth until we have descended into our own depths.’ Matthew Kelty, a monk of Gethsemani and a friend of Merton, said in a sermon in the 1960s that in entering the world of the psalms we touch human nature in all its levels. He even called them a dangerous form of prayer! For while they are often songs of thanksgiving and rejoicing, joyous and benign, they can also bring us face to face with the conflict within us, with the demons within our own hearts.

Esther De Waal – The Way of SImplicity. The Cistercian Tradition.

My reflections on the Psalms.

Here’s why I’m walking this journey through the Psalms.