Psalm 51: Psalm of Psalms
Readers of the Psalms have their favourites. There are, however, a small number of psalms that have had much greater popularity and significance over the centuries. Today, Psalm 23 is arguably the Psalm of Psalms, at least in Western Christianity. This has not always been the case. For much of Church history it was eclipsed… Continue reading
My Booklet on the Penitential Psalms
I am pleased to say that my Grove Book on the penitential psalms was published this week. It’s titled The Penitential Psalms Today: A Journey with Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143 and is available from Grove by clicking on this title. The booklet was written for the simple reason that after… Continue reading
Psalm 102: Bird on a Wire
This is the third of a series of occasional posts on the penitential psalms. Here we will focus on a single aspect of Psalm 102: its use of ornithological imagery. Pictorial language is not only central to the very nature of the psalms, but it is also key to understanding them. Focusing on the threefold… Continue reading
Psalm 32: The Second Penitential Psalm Today
This is the second of seven posts that aim to show how the Penitential Psalms—Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143—have been read by interpreters such as Augustine, Cassiodorus, Luther and Calvin. One reason for doing this is the conviction that we can learn from past interpretations as we compare them with modern… Continue reading
Psalm 6: The First Penitential Psalm Today
This post will provide some examples of penitential commentary on Psalm 6 from the likes of Augustine, Cassiodorus, Denis the Carthusian, Luther and Calvin. In this way it introduces the reader to ancient readings and a facet of psalm interpretation which is unpopular today but was once immensely generative in doctrine, personal piety, Lenten practice,… Continue reading
Y is for Yerushalayim
Despite Psalm 51’s focus on personal repentance, the city of peace, Yerushalayim features towards the psalm’s conclusion: Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51:18–19, NRSV… Continue reading
W is for Wrath
The subject of God’s wrath is a challenging one at a number of levels. It connects with how we understand the atonement and the relationship between the two testaments to name just two. A starting point for any theological reflection and understanding of God’s wrath recognises that the Bible—in both testaments—speaks of God’s wrath, or… Continue reading
V is for Victorian Opinion
Many of these posts have celebrated Psalm 51 as the Psalm of Psalms in the medieval period. Even as late as the Victorian period there were some commentators who weren’t shy of throwing a few superlatives at this psalm and its six companion penitential psalms. Here is Neale and Littledale’s take on the seven psalms:… Continue reading
U is for Undervalued
As I have been researching the reception of Psalm 51 I have found that there is no contemporary treatment of this psalm and its companions, the other six penitential psalms. We saw in S is for the Sixties that, to my knowledge, the 1960s were the last decade in which accessible basic introductions to the… Continue reading
T is for Tears
Despite the title, I have to confess there are no tears mentioned in Psalm 51. Despite this undeniable fact how many will have shed tears when praying this psalm? Is this not the frequent marker of true contrition and compunction? I know from personal experience that this psalm can be accompanied by tears. If we… Continue reading
This blog’s central aim is to explore all aspects of how the Psalter (the biblical psalms) functions as Scripture today.
To this end it will also include book reviews on the Book of Psalms and related topics.
Some posts will reflect more broadly on biblical interpretation or hermeneutics.
If you like what you see here and want to arrange for me to give a lecture, run a teaching event or a short retreat based around The Psalms then contact me so we can discuss how this might work.