Jan 18, 2022

The Honesty of the Psalter

"Perhaps one reason for the enduring power of the Psalter, despite its troubling aspects, is its blistering honesty; not only does the Psalter not shrink from owning negative emotions, but it also does not underplay the experience of abandonment by God voiced in laments that dominate the first third of the Psalter. It is precisely this experience of abandonment, also placed in the mouth of Jesus as he died, that discomfits later theologians who have consistently sought to tidy up psalmic theology to protect a presupposed view of God as present, gracious, and powerful. Ironically, admitting that one does not always experience God this way vitalizes these poems. They showcase people struggling to make sense of God in the face of deep doubts and sometimes frankly failing in that endeavor. That the canonizers included this 'counter testimony' in the canon attests to their refusal to whitewash the problem of theodicy. The poets address people where they are, even when doing so flies in the face of authorized theological expectation."

Ellen Charry, Psalms 1–50 (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2015), XIX.

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