April 30, 2010

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Brief descriptions of 15 favorite psalms

John F. Fink(Twelfth in a series of columns)

Let me briefly describe 15 of my favorite psalms, 10 percent of the total 150, in numerical order. Other people might have different favorites, but these are the ones that seem most meaningful to me.

Psalm 8 celebrates both God’s majesty and human dignity. It describes how awesome God is, marveling at his creation and how he has given us mortals rule over all things on Earth.

Psalm 15 asks, “Who may abide in God’s tent?” (Ps 15:1). The answer is those who walk without blame, do what is right, speak the truth, and several other things. It’s like a checklist.

Psalm 23 is a comforting psalm, assuring me that God is always at my side, no matter what.

Psalm 27 tells me to trust in God because he will never forsake me.

Psalm 42 is a longing, a thirst, for God. This is a sentiment I want to become a part of me. Psalm 63 expresses the same sentiments.

Psalm 51 asks God to have mercy on me and to blot out my offenses. It goes on to pray for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.

Psalm 84 is similar to Psalm 42 in that both express a longing for God. It says that the one praying is yearning and pining for the court of the Lord.

Psalm 90 reminds me of God’s eternity and the shortness of my life. It says that the span of our lives is 70 years or 80 for those who are strong, and that they pass away quickly. It asks God to grant me the wisdom to understand the shortness of my life, and to grant success to the works of my hands.

Psalm 91 is a good night prayer. It assures me that there is security under God’s protection.

Psalm 100 is a short hymn of praise and thanksgiving. It was originally an invitation to people to enter the temple to offer thanks to God.

Psalm 103 is a prayer of thanksgiving, but it also praises God’s goodness. It reminds me not to forget God’s gifts. However, as Psalm 90 does, it says that the days of our lives are like flowers that bloom, but are blown away by the wind.

Psalm 130 is a prayer for pardon and mercy. It begins: “Out of the depths I call to you, Lord; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy” (Ps 130:1-2).

Psalm 139 is, I believe, the most intimate psalm. It acknowledges that God knows all about me because he created me and knows my most intimate thoughts.

Psalm 148 summons all creation to praise God—angels, hosts, sun, moon, shining stars, highest heavens, sea monsters, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds, mountains and hills, trees, animals, and all peoples, young and old alike.

Psalm 150 calls us to praise God for his mighty deeds and his great majesty. It says we should praise him with horns, harp, lyre, tambourines and dance, flutes and strings, and crashing cymbals. †

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