I had the pleasure of hearing the good Bishop N.T. Wright on tour last Monday talking about his excellent if pricey little book The Case for the Psalms.
His basic premise is that God gave us an inspired song book, the Psalms. Jesus sang them, and so should we. This need not take away from new songs being written, but the fact that what people usually sing in churches today, if they sing any Psalms at all, is a wee snippet of one here or there, is a tragic loss.
Wright told a story about a man associated with his who hadn’t become a Christian but went with him in a group to the holy land some years ago. Part of the tour included a trip to what is thought to be the high priest’s house of Jesus’ time, and beneath it was a deep and narrow vertical shaft which led to a solitary room. This is probably where Jesus spent his last night alone on earth, no doubt singing Psalms which appear on his lips all the time. The tour guide mentioned the lightless despair and the relevance of Psalm 88, the one with no resolution at the end, which we all feel at times. Wright noticed the man visibly moved by the reality of Jesus facing his death in those circumstances, and later he converted. Counted by the number of times he quotes them, Psalms are one of Jesus five favorite Old Testament books, and certainly the one he sang the most.
Wright’s talk was full of goodness, but two points stood out. (more…)