The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today

By Samuel Terrien | Go to book overview

2
WORSHIP OF THE LORD OF HISTORY

BIBLICAL faith is different from any other because it does not proffer a technique whereby man compels the deity to act according to his own desires. Biblical faith attempts to place man at the disposal of God rather than God at the disposal of man. "Thy will be done!" Such is the prayer of the Bible. This is the reason for which the ancient Hebrews discerned a meaningful pattern in history. They believed that one God intervenes in the life of nations as well as in the destiny of individuals in order to pursue across the centuries and from generation to generation a just and moral purpose.

Some religions ignore history altogether, for they assume with unrelieved pessimism that the world is the prey of an impersonal force--which they call chance, fate, necessity, or scientific determinism--and they consequently teach their initiates how to escape from the evil realities of this earth and to achieve as individuals a mystical salvation.

Other religions hold a fragmentary view of history, for they are centered around the success of one tribe, one dynasty, one city- state, one fatherland, one empire, to the exclusion of all others. The deities they worship are nothing more than the projection of the life of a particular group. They identify the will of their gods with the needs and ambitions of a closed society. Thus they do not survive its fall. The god Ashur dies with the city of Nineveh and the god Marduk with the city of Babylon. There lies the hidden falsehood of the slogan which characterizes all religious nationalisms, "My country, right or wrong!"

-65-

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The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface - The Psalms in The Life of the Western World vii
  • Contents xv
  • 1 - The Origin Of The Psalms 17
  • 2 - Hymns Of Praise 35
  • I - Worship of The Lord of Nature 37
  • 2 - Worship of The Lord of History 65
  • 3- Worship of The Lord of Zion 93
  • 3 - Prayers In Time of Crisis 123
  • I - National Laments 125
  • 2 - Personal Supplications 143
  • 3 - Penitential Prayers 166
  • 4 - Songs Of Faith 189
  • 2 - Psalms of Trust 212
  • 3 - Psalms of "Wisdom" And Communion 239
  • 5 - Their Meaning For Today 265
  • Suggested Readings 276
  • Index to Psalm References 277
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