The Psalms are a strange literature to study. They appear to be straightforward and obvious. They are not obscure, technical, or complicated. Yet, when one leaves off study of them, one is aware that the unresolved fascination endures. Any comment upon them is inevitably partial and provisional. That is certainly true of such a limited manuscript as this. But the reason for the partial, provisional character of this study is not simply because of such limitations, but because of the nature of the material. There is simply more than can be touched and handled. So one finishes with a sense of inadequacy, of not probing enough. That, of course, is why the Psalms continue to nourish and nurture long after our interpretation has run its course. We are aware that the claims of the literature have not been exhausted.
1. I have assumed the great deposit of critical scholarship that is indispensable for study of the Psalms. I have not thought it useful or necessary to repeat all of that, or even to specify the sources of those learnings. But it will be evident that I am dependent on and do take seriously that fund of critical learning. Indeed, my basic plan of organization is derived from the form-critical consensus.
2. I have utilized a “scheme” of orientation—disorientation—new orientation. But I want to say, both to those who may critically assess the book and to those who may use the book as a door to psalmic spirituality, that I do not intend the proposed scheme to be a straitjacket. I do not imagine that the scheme is adequate to comprehend the Psalms, for we do not have such a “master key.” I intend this principle of organization only to help us see things we might not have seen otherwise. The test of a good paradigm is whether it serves in a