On Sunday, Rev. Joshua Patty preached about the Psalms, the collection of music in the middle of the Hebrew Bible. These 150 songs were written over centuries for a variety of contexts. Many were written to be sung as part of worship, especially around the Temple, but others are adapted from more personal poems. Many could be sung in most situations, but a few were for unique circumstances, like a coronation.
While there are many themes explored in the Psalms, the most pronounced is the identity and nature of God. What is God like? What does God do? (Or sometimes, what does God not do?) Closely related to this: how are human beings related to God? After all, God is many things that humans simply are not -- omniscient, omnipresent, wise, steadfast, perfectly merciful. In recognizing these differences, and by embracing God's direction and purposes, people can live full and meaningful lives. The Psalms frequently celebrate this.
Sometimes, though, people in tough situations do not always put their best foot forward. Frequently, God's people face opponents and enemies who mean harm, not good; occasionally, these people even get the upper hand for a while. So, while the Jewish leaders were exiled into Babylon, they grew angry and depressed -- a dual emotional state at the heart of Psalm 137. In such places, God's people often asked for uncharitable things -- vengeance and suffering (sometimes described in exacting detail). While such emotions are not god-like, they are truly felt sometimes. The good in the psalms is not these emotions themselves, but the openness with which they are shared with God. Only through such intimacy and trust can God work positive changes in peoples lives.
Click here to listen to the sermon.
You can also listen to the related Communion meditation.