Psalms Current Hot-Button Issues And Cultural Debates In Practice
Getting Biblical in Daily Life
Psalms is all over modern culture, there's no question about that. But why? Maybe because of its ability to transcend the simplicity of the stories in the rest of the Bible—it digs deep into them, finding the commentary on faith that it's looking for. Yes, Psalms does occasionally do some rehashing, but more than anything else, Psalms is a book about faith, and how to deal with a skeptical world. That's a universal, and a powerful, message, and that's how Psalms has had such staying power.
Since illiteracy was much more common in biblical times, the Psalms would have been recited aloud at community luncheons, around the fire, and in the town square. People would memorize them as comforting lines in bad times, as admonishments for people they didn't like, and as a way of recalling their past together.
Psalms provides diverse blueprints of ways to engage with God, but its major lesson to a religious believer is that you can engage with God. There are hymns of praise, if you're feeling particularly celebratory, and cries of lament, in case you're really not. What's at the core of Psalms is the belief that humans were meant to share their experiences with God, as individuals and as members of a community. The Psalms have become the core of Jewish and Christian prayer books because the book celebrates the power and importance of prayer.
Of course, the writers lived in a historical world with political concerns just like ours. They were part of a larger world struggling to promote their ideas to an audience preoccupied with idol worship, gold, and survival. But of course, the writers were writing for God as much as for their own personal political projects, and it's that spiritual dimension that makes its language timeless.
Whether the Psalms were divinely inspired or written by the hand of man is irrelevant to the poetry, which has lasted for thousands of years. Can't argue with longevity, folks.