On reading Psalm 93

The Lord is “robed in majesty,” yes, and high and lifted up, but the scripture he has given us: it is given through our own mouths, and portrays our own plight, is right down here on the ground with us, in the mud and the blood and the gore.

Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)

Warnings from biblical lexicography James Barr was for many years, I think, the scholar most feared by other members of the biblical-studies guild. He had a knack for spotting and exposing fallacies that were widely accepted by his peers as standard practice. Probably the best-known example of his work was his book The Semantics ofContinue reading “Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)”

Claiming innocence (Psalm 69)

Really, Psalmist? Again? More tears, more moaning, more self-pity? More in number than the hairs of your head? So you have counted them? Either the hairs or the enemies? Good lord, if you had a violin in addition to that harp somebody in your own house would have to shoot you. Are you sure aboutContinue reading “Claiming innocence (Psalm 69)”

The choice we make (Psalm 1)

Psalm 1 is about two kinds of people: wicked and righteous. The point is not polarization (setting up an Us versus a Them, two fixed and opposed groups) but moral choice: the whole point is that we can, we inevitably do, decide which type to be, and we are being urged to be one wayContinue reading “The choice we make (Psalm 1)”

Living between divine love and human iniquity (Psalm 36)

Abiding in God’s love does not make us pious dopes who think (or pretend) that everything is always wonderful. It enables us to see evil clearly, call it what it is, and understand that in the end it is powerless before the power of Love.

Defining human existence (Psalm 139)

To be is to be known by God. God’s omniscience is knowledge not only of everything but of everyone. There is no one whom God does not know. My existence resides in the fact that God knows me. My identity is this: I am who God knows that I am. And since God speaks, andContinue reading “Defining human existence (Psalm 139)”

Psalm 119:17–24 (Gimel)

What is my relationship with Scripture? How do I experience it? How do I describe it? What is it to me? In certain stages of my formation there were voices that emphasized words like “inerrancy.” In truth, though, despite my formation in evangelical circles, these were never the voices of my own teachers. To beContinue reading “Psalm 119:17–24 (Gimel)”