I would like to make a few comments on what came out of my recording of the Psalms. As with C. S. Lewis in his book Reflections on the Psalms, this is not an attempt to deal with them totally, but simply to share some thoughts.
The recordings got easier as time went on. At first I made all kinds of mistakes in reading them and in inflections and had to go back and redo whole Psalms or large sections. This was the big factor slowing me down. Even though you’re reading the words you still have to get hold of the rhythm underlying them. Repetition takes a person deeper inside each time.
I mostly did the music tracks separately, but the music seemed to match whether I listened to the text while recording it or if I just got an idea and recorded to the time frame without listening to the text. These words are such that they transcend melodies and fit inside whatever framework is provided for them.
There is a real intensity of the text. This is not warm fuzzies for the timid but blood and anger and damage and trust. It’s not just in the vengeance Psalms, but throughout that such direct boldness occurs. The Psalms are not always pleasant, but they are always true. No one should ever discount the Psalms as an old people’s religious book to hide in when you get your feelings hurt.
The Psalms take us way beyond the regulations of the law and even the conditions of the gospel to a direct life with God. I don’t think we are intended to take these for the totality of our prayers or songs or even as the only models available, but in looking at them we see how much farther we have to go than we normally go.
The psalmists are as bold about themselves as they are confident in God. They speak with absolute confidence. It is not pride or bravado, but God’s character rubbing off on them. They have taken on the viewpoint of God; their hatred of evil is not just a projection, but a real identification with God.
We may speak of ourselves, but we cannot think of ourselves when we read these. We are not just drawn to God, but are directed and shot at Him.
There is a rising and falling of ideas. There is nothing flat about these. They move to intensity. The Psalms should never be old hat or familiar country; they are God’s country.
Sometimes I found that the music had to contrast the words to bring them out with greater force. It doesn’t seem like it would work but it does. The whole is greater than the parts here of all places in scripture.
The harmonization I experienced was not of my voice and fingers, but of God throughout.
The end result of even the most violent Psalms is peace with God. I noticed on the playback of Psalm 137 that my reading of the ending was very subdued. When we take our feelings of anger and vengeance to God, He always does what is right, but He also teaches us to look at others with His own heart which does not willingly judge anyone.
In the days these were written there was not an open covenant for all mankind. Now there is, and everyone can enter into the benefits of these.
4 years ago