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The Religious Experience in the Book of Psalms

Series:

Shamai Gelander

This book deals with the world of the psalms, in order to reveal the elements of faith as expressed in the various prayers. It includes an encompassing study of the variety of experiences: How can an individual in distress experience a situation which contrasts his actual reality altogether? What causes an individual to believe that God wants him to live and does not want him to die? What are the individual’s sources of confidence in justice as ruling over the universe, and his confidence that the harmony of the universe leaves no room for evil? Virtually all books of the Old Testament express the world view and opinions of their authors, with a didactic purpose on mind. Not so the Book of Psalms: Here we can find an expression of the pious individual’s world and his beliefs. The psalms are what the authors sought to place in the mouth of the worshippers, thinking that they would aptly express what was on their mind. Anybody who seeks to understand how faith and thoughtfulness join together with the individual’s emotions through a wonderful creative shaping, is invited to read this book.

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7. Every Man a King

Extract

This chapter focuses mainly on one aspect of the king that appears to have been comparatively neglected. Admittedly most of the psalms conventionally known as the Royal Psalms have fairly self-evident messages. Even when the historical circumstances they are referring to are uncertain, there is no difficulty in identifying the intention.1 Thus, Ps. 110 is clearly a prediction of victory for the king going to battle2; Ps. 72 is a paean to the king – most likely, to mark his ascent to the throne; Ps. 132 is a prayer for the king’s well-being; and Ps. 45 is a psalm in honor of the king’s wedding.3 But there are psalms where the king is mentioned, or perhaps even one of its primary elements, and yet are still not regarded as “Royal Psalms” – either in terms of the subject itself or in the manner in which the speaker refers to the subject. A re-examination of these psalms may shed light on the nature of the experience in which the king is presented. Let us begin this examination with Ps. 61: (1) Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. (2) From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (3) For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. (4) I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.4 1...

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