The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today

By Samuel Terrien | Go to book overview

2
PERSONAL SUPPLICATIONS

WITH the "Prayers of the Individual" we enter into the very core of the Hebrew hymnal. Through those psalms the divine-human encounter receives in the intimate sanctuary of the soul its farthest-reaching expression. The Psalter has survived change of time, displacement of culture, and betrayal of translation for one primordial reason: it includes many "Personal Supplications" with which, age after age, lonely sufferers have been able to identify their own unspoken sorrow. Pain may unite and create a bond of fellowship--after the crisis is ended. But a man in misuery is alone. We suffer only as individuals. The community is never wholly absent from the psalms of longing and misery, but their poets did not write in the name of a worshiping "church." Like Jacob who wrestled in the night at the ford of the torrent Jabbok, they were "left alone." Their suffering, whatever its direct cause and its nature, grew even deeper from the vacuum of isolation. For they felt abandoned, not only by men, but also by God himself. In their spiritual loneliness they drank the cup of bitterness to its last dregs. Thus, the accent of their suffering rings true to the worst ever endured by man, and their poems, individualized as they may be, have become typical of universal grief.

Moreover, the psalmists never stopped at a mere exteriorization of subjective pain. Their suffering was neither sterile nor useless. They invariably learned from it. Even Homer, long before them, had discovered that ". . . he who much has suffered, much will know." But what the psalmists learned through the tortures they endured was infinitely more than courage and nobility of character.

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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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