Psalm 35 – Beseiged, Betrayed, Belittled The realism of the Psalms requires both the joys of deliverance and the pathos of pain. We are in constant need of the Lord who is our refuge everyday. Exuberant joy and extreme angst run together in the cosmic battle of sin and death as we await the final judgment and the consummation of “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).
Psalm 34 – The Ethics of Gratitude The beauty of Psalm 34 is not diminished by its narrative link to David’s ingenious performance as a madman to escape the clutches of the Philistines. Augustine drew a straight line from David’s Oscar winning portrayal of insanity to the humiliation of Christ on the cross. David’s clawing on the doors of the gate and foaming at the mouth made Augustine think of the awful humiliation suffered by the Son of God who died in his passion (not in a performance) that we might escape the judgment we deserve for our sins.
Psalm 33 – Sing a New Song Psalm 33 does what similar creation/instruction psalms do for worship (Psalms 8, 19, 24, 25, 29). The troubles and laments of the people of God are reset in the big picture of God’s faithfulness. The focus shifts from our problems to God’s sovereignty, providential protection, and unfailing love.
Psalm 32 – Confession and Celebration Augustine claimed that this penitential psalm of thanksgiving was his favorite psalm. He read it frequently and had its words inscribed on the wall by his sickbed. Faith in God’s mercy, and not in our merit, gives us the freedom to acknowledge our sin and trust in God “who justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:4).
Psalm 31 – Into Your Hands The emotional and poetic range of worship provided in the Psalms is greater than we are accustomed to in our personal devotions and in our corporate worship. Shame and entrapment are not typical Sunday morning themes. The Psalms resist our efforts to exclude the realities of violence, war, cancer, death, abuse, and betrayal from our worship. Psalm 31 rings true to the Psalms, but it jars the sanctimonious piety of polite religious people.