Jun 5, 2013
If there is one biblical book that expresses the hues and tints of human emotion, it is the Psalms, the hymn book of Jews and Christians. Composed over a period of some 700 years beginning with the reign of King David (1000-970 BC), the psalms reflect Israel’s deepening and continuous relationship with God.
The basic theme, total trust in and reliance on Providence, is imbedded in all the psalms. Metaphors too like ‘God is my rock, my fortress, my refuge and place of safety, my stronghold, my song, and my love’ run throughout the psalms. The individual and the nation cast their burden upon the Lord, again and again. And, again.
The Jews are a long-suffering people. How many times has their land been plundered, their identity questioned, their very existence challenged by extinction, well-documented in histories of the Holocaust and by its few survivors. From the time of Abraham, the Israelites were singled out as God’s most beloved spouse, and this human-divine bond could not be broken. God remained faithful to them, though they, less so. Still, they were free to vent their emotions when they surrounded by foreign and bellicose nations who sought to overthrow them, and did so. Where did they turn? In anguish and despair, they asked not only why God was permitting it all to happen, but they also pleaded for consolation, which, in turn, became songs of consolation. Of the entire corpus of psalms, about one-third are complaints and laments, both community and individual, exceeding hymns of praise and thanksgiving.
When Bad News Happens . . .