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Psalms Archives

Our Common Prayerbook 30 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David’s own experience. Here is what that experience looks like: Step one: David was set on high and […]

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Our Common Prayerbook 30 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 30 is the story of the ups and downs of life, and David is frank and clear. He was in a flourishing spot, he became proud, the Lord was with him but disciplined him, and then the Lord lifted […]

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Our Common Prayerbook 30 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

It is good to give thanks for the Lord’s grace to us, especially when we have been rescued. The psalmist, and this one is attributed to David, gives thanks to God for rescue in these words at the opening of […]

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Our Common Prayerbook 29 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 29 has a natural (and profoundly theological) progression: it begins by summoning the “sons of Elohim” (heavenly beings) to worship God, and this seems to be a way of getting all humans to see that the idols must turn […]

Our Common Prayerbook 29 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 29 summons “heavenly beings” (sons of gods) to acknowledge YHWH, and you can read the Psalm after the jump where we include the NetBible’s version. Some have even suggested Psalm 29 adapts poetry from the Canaanites. The essential command […]

Our Common Prayerbook 28 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Thanksgiving is a fruit that does not grow naturally among humans. Perhaps it grows easier for some than for others, but it is not uncommon for someone to experience something wonderful, something for which they had even pleaded with God, […]

Our Common Prayerbook 28 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

How to respond to enemies? How to respond to those with whom one is conflict? What to do? The psalms suggest going directly to God. Call on God, Psalm 28 informs us. David’s prayer weaves together his request from God […]

Our Common Prayerbook 27 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

The second half of Psalm 27 (read vv. 7-14 after the jump) reveals the heart of David as he seeks to control his fear and actualize his own theology of God’s strength and protection. He wanders — soulish wandering — […]

Our Common Prayerbook 27-1

posted by Scot McKnight

This series is called “our common prayerbook” because the Psalms were designed as a prayerbook for Israel and it is the common prayerbook that stands behind all other prayerbooks in use in the Church today. These prayers, or the psalms, […]

Our Common Prayerbook 26 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 26 continues with the reasons why he think YHWH should “vindicate” or decide in his favor, and now he turns more toward religious practices in the Temple. Again, the psalmist is unafraid to make his claim of innocence and […]

Our Common Prayerbook 26 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

One theme in the Psalms that can make Protestants nervous is the theme of the personal claim to integrity that the psalmist uses as a plea with God to say “Answer me, I’ve been faithful.” Psalm 26, which connects with […]

Our Common Prayerbook 25 – 5

posted by Scot McKnight

Our theme for Psalm 25 is that prayer is soul-ish wandering. Soul-ish wandering begins in one place and the spirit and soul wander from place to place and from thought to thought while in God’s presence. One could say that […]

Our Common Prayerbook 25 – 4

posted by Scot McKnight

Our theme for Psalm 25 is that prayer is soul-ish wandering. Soul-ish wandering begins in one place and the spirit and soul wander from place to place and from thought to thought while in God’s presence. One could say that […]

Our Common Prayerbook 25 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Prayer is soul-ish wandering. It begins in one place and the spirit and soul wander from place to place while in God’s presence. One could say that genuine prayer often meanders from one thought to another.  The psalmist in Psalm […]

Our Common Prayerbook 25 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Prayer is soul-ish wandering and for me Psalm 25 exemplifies the prayer of soulish wandering.  This psalm begins (vv. 1-3) by offering one’s very heart to God and then moves to petitioning for instruction.  Soulish wandering longs for wisdom. Hence vv. […]

Our Common Prayerbook 25 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Prayer is soul-ish wandering. It wanders from who we are and what we have done and what life is like into the presence of God where it again wanders into who God is and what God is like and what […]

Our Common Prayerbook 24 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 24:7-10 is a double-set of exclamations: in both v. 7 and v. 9 the psalmist exhorts the gates to open, and in vv. 8 and 10 the psalmist describes YHWH and his entrance into the Temple. In the flow […]

Our Common Prayerbook 24 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

The psalms are prayers, and we learn to pray by watching the psalmists pray. Which reminds me of Lynn Anderson’s book, a book that examines who we learn to talk back to God in the psalms: Talking Back to God: […]

Our Common Prayerbook 24 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 24 has three unrelated sections: vv. 1-2, 3-6 and 7-10. So also J. Goldingay: Psalms 1. The ecological theme of so many of us today, the green theme, jumps out of Psalm 24’s first two verses, and these two […]

Our Common Prayerbook 23 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

The second part of Psalm 23 shifts at v. 5 from God as Shepherd to God as hospitable host. Again, we are reading through J. Goldingay (Psalms 1), and you can see the text of Psalm 23 after the jump. […]

Our Common Prayerbook 23 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Commenting on Psalm 23 is like commenting on the Lord’s Prayer. The text has come to mean so much to so many that anyone’s comments fall short. Again, our guide is John Goldingay: (Psalms 1). Reading Psalm 22 is like […]

Our Common Prayerbook 22 – 4

posted by Scot McKnight

Reading Psalm 22 is like watching a pious person wrestle mightily with God, with the self, with others, and with what the person believes in the innermost heart and soul and mind [Psalms 1]. Psalm 22:23ff takes a mighty turn. It […]

Our Common Prayerbook 22 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 22 is a struggle, a struggle of the psalmist with his enemies, with himself, with his faith, and with his God. But the psalmist keeps going forward, and I think part of it is shaped by reminding himself of […]

Our Common Prayerbook 22 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

As John Goldingay [Psalms 1]  puts it, Psalm 22 weaves in and out of despair and praise. After two verses of the most memorable expressions of a sense of despair and abandonment, the psalmist turns toward his faith and affirms what he […]

Our Common Prayerbook 22 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

As John Goldingay [Psalms 1]  puts it, Psalm 22 weaves in and out of possibility, the efficacy of prayer, the necessity of praising God and the present needs of the psalmist. This is a famous psalm because Jesus quotes from it on […]

Our Common Prayerbook 21 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 21 celebrates in vv. 8-12 the future delivering acts of YHWH. It is not entirely clear at times whether the speaker is speaking of the King or of YHWH, but the two are clearly interwoven, something that is both […]

Our Common Prayerbook 21 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 21 follows Psalm 20 both numerically and thematically. It is one distance removed from what happened in Psalm 20, but has the same basic themes: the king’s victory leads to joy and contemplation of more victories. I swipe the […]

Our Common Prayerbook 20 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Yesterday we began to look at Psalm 20. We observed the prayer was more of a blessing said in the presence of God about the King. The context seems to be the King going to war or to battle. Those […]

Our Common Prayerbook 20 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 20 is a unique of liturgical worship (read the Psalm after the jump). It reads as if the People, or some group, is praying for the King in vv. 1-5 and then in v. 6 the King responds, and […]

Our Common Prayerbook 19 – 4

posted by Scot McKnight

We close out Psalm 19 today, and we recall that it had two sections — one that saw creation praising God and one that sees the human praising God for his Word. The “word” of creation has a silent praise; […]

Our Common Prayerbook 19 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 19:10-11 give us reasons to immerse ourselves in the Torah of God: 10 They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey […]

Our Common Prayerbook 19 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 19 is cut into two themes, and the two themes are not connected at the verbal level by the author as if to say how they relate. The first part has the Creation speaking, and the second part has […]

Our Common Prayerbook 19 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

This psalm, Psalm 19, is one of the psalms that many Christians instantly recognize or one from which many can cite. The psalm has two halves and you can read the whole psalm after the jump. The first half is […]

Our Common Prayerbook 18 – 7

posted by Scot McKnight

The psalmist, after describing his own deliverance and victory in battle, gives praise to God for his victory. David sees this victory not only as a vindication of himself, and of God, but it reveals something about God: the one […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 18 – 6

posted by Scot McKnight

The language of defeat is prominent in Psalm 18:35-45 (see after the jump), so prominent it might offend. David, or whoever this might be, exults in the defeat of his enemies and he looks to God for that victory. In […]

Our Common Prayerbook 18 – 5

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 18 is a long psalm. 18:30-34 is a strong word, a word about God that leads us to learn to trust in God and to depend on God, especially when life seems to be at its worst. Here the […]

Our Common Prayerbook 18 – 4

posted by Scot McKnight

We are back in the saddle, and that means we resume our year-long (or longer) look through the Psalms. As a reminder, we are specially scouting the divine (to use the words of Margaret Feinberg’s excellent book). Here we scout […]

Our Common Prayerbook 18 – 3

posted by Scot McKnight

In Psalm 18, which you can read in its entirety after the jump, David testifies to the goodness of God for delivering him from the threshold of death and chaos (18:1-6). But vv. 7-15 contain a mosaic of metaphors for […]

Our Common Prayerbook 18 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 18 is a long psalm about praising God for his deliverance. David declares that he called out to God (v. 3); he describes his situation out of which he needed deliverance (vv. 4-5); and he declares that God answered […]

Our Common Prayerbook 17 – 2

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 17 describes in metaphorical flourishes the psalmist’s enemies.  But before David, or whoever the psalmist was, describes them, he calls on God to act. Then he describes the nastiness of his enemies; then he pleads with God to be […]

Our Common Prayerbook 17 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

The psalmist in Psalm 17 (see the whole psalm after the jump) thinks God should listen to him because he has lived before God faithfully.  Here I find the Protestant impulse to gush a bit at the boldness of the […]

Our Common Prayerbook 16 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

This psalm (read the whole after the jump) begins with a plea based on a theological commitment: Protect me because I trust in You. Just what it means to trust in God is then spelled out in v. 2: I […]

Our Common Prayerbook 15

posted by Scot McKnight

David reflects on who is acceptable to God, so acceptable the person can dwell on the holy hill. What is such a person like? John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) calls […]

Our Common Prayerbook 14 – 1

posted by Scot McKnight

If there is a god, and if a person knows there is a god, then to deny God is to be a fool. So Psalm 14’s famous opening line: “Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.””  But there’s more […]

Our Common Prayerbook 9-10: 4

posted by Scot McKnight

I’ve experienced sin, and I’ve read the lives of sinners talking about their sins, and I’ve read Genesis 3’s beautiful account and I’ve read the prodigal son’s sins, but I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that plumbs […]

Our Common Prayerbook 9-10: 1

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalms 9 and 10 are probably originally a single psalm (both Goldingay and Alter agree): Our companion is John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) and Robert Alter, The Book of […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 8-3

posted by Scot McKnight

Creation is immense and God made it all, and the psalmist leads anyone listening to the majestic distance of God — and yet, yet, yet, even though immense and majestic, God both notices and pays attention to humans. The immensity […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 8-2

posted by Scot McKnight

We continue in our series on the Psalms, thinking especially about “God” in the prayers of Israel. Our companion is John Goldingay’s commentary (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms). Along with Goldingay […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 8-1

posted by Scot McKnight

A psalm of praise and wonder at the majesty and might of YHWH is found in Psalm 8 (after the jump). The psalmist praises God for creation, that is, for the glory that is evoked when one considers the awesome […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 7-3

posted by Scot McKnight

John Goldingay, in his book on the Psalms (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) ), calls Psalm 7:10-16 a statement of faith. I have the text after the jump, but his point […]

Our Common Prayerbook: Psalm 7-1

posted by Scot McKnight

Readers of the Psalter know that David complains about his enemies, laments over his situation, and challenges YHWH to step in and establish justice. What is often unobserved is that David, or whoever prayed these psalms, often subjects himself to […]

Our Common Prayerbook 4

posted by Scot McKnight

Psalm 2 [after jump], (Psalms, Vol. 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms) ), is about God’s enthronement of his king on his holy hill in Zion. It is about the hybris of the pagan […]

Our Common Prayerbook 1

posted by Scot McKnight

I begin today a series on Psalms, which promises to be a long, long series. One a day for four days a week would take almost 40 weeks, and I won’t get close to one psalm a day. One psalm […]

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Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

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