Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Although the book of Psalms is Hebrew literature from the Old Testament and is sometimes called the songbook of Israel’s second temple, Christians have consistently witnessed to the power of the Psalms to give voice to their prayers and their expressions of worship. The Psalms have this power because, unlike other parts of Scripture, they are not God’s words directed toward Israel; they are instead Israel’s words directed to God in worshipful and prayerful response to his presence and actions among them. As long as Christians continue to acknowledge God’s presence and activity in the Church, the Psalms will serve as a meaningful expression of the Christian response to God in worship and prayer.

Psalms suggests to the Christian that worship is deep, intense, and passionate, and that prayer is honest and fervent. In fact, the Psalms’ honesty and fervency may offend modern Christian sensibilities at times, especially on those occasions when the psalmist prayed for the violent destruction of enemies and their children (for example, Ps. 3:7). These imprecatory psalms are difficult to reconcile with Christ’s command to love our enemies. It should be remembered, however, that these psalms are cries for help, emerging from situations of deep suffering and oppression, and that the New Testament allows for God’s intervention as vindicator of his people (Rom. 12:19; 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Tim. 4:14; Heb. 10:30-31; Jude 14-15; Rev. 6:10).


(The entire section is 436 words.)