On this Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
Today’s reading focuses on the Book of Psalms. When I reflected on the reading, I realized that I really did not know a lot about the Psalms. Sure, I have my favorite ones. And yes, I know we regularly sing Psalms at Mass. But I never really sat down and studied them in any depth.
So as I delved again into David’s lyrics, I began to appreciate better the beauty of these verses. And I began to understand better why David is a Man After God’s Own Heart.
I found this wonderful document online breaking down the Book of Psalms as a parallel to each of the five books of the Pentateuch, providing examples. I need to study this more closely. It also divides the Psalms into several categories: prophetic, personal (to the Psalmist), Passover, poetic, pilgrim and praises.
The Psalms seem to cover every aspect of our human condition: suffering and joy, despair and hope, promise and rejection.
Did you know that, of the 150 Psalms, approximately 65 contain complaints? That’s almost half!
As I reflect on my human condition, especially my suffering (and even more specifically, the self-inflicted suffering), two Psalms stand out in my mind:
“Be still and know that I am God!” Ps. 46:11.
“I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.” Ps. 131:1.
Each of these reminds me of my place in the Creation. You see, much of my suffering can be attributed to one thing: a distorted self-image.
Sometimes I think too highly of myself, like I’m God’s gift to . . . whomever. When I take on this attitude, I begin to take on an air of entitlement.
“How dare you cut me off! I’m entitled to that part of the pavement!”
“I deserve this larger piece of cake!”
“How could they do that to me?!”
I think you get the picture. Me. Me. Me. I’m the focus.
On the other hand, I sometimes think too lowly of myself.
“How can God forgive me?”
“I am not worthy of God’s love!”
“I don’t deserve . . . .”
The problem, here, is that I don’t fully accept the graces and mercies that God offers. And it leads to moping and self-pity.
In either case, my focus is squarely on myself.
That’s where the two Psalms come in. They each tend to take my focus off myself. They remind me that I am creature, not creator. And that our Creator has everything under His control. I need not worry. He loves me. He will provide.
One of my prayers is that I see myself through God’s eyes. Loved, but not perfect. Humble, but not humiliated.
Once I do that, I start to get my priorities straight and can truly praise God. Like in the shortest Psalm:
Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
His mercy for us is strong;
the faithfulness of the LORD is forever.
David, a man after God’s own heart, plunges deep into his own heart to communicate his love to God, delivering his heart and soul to the Father. He bares all and in doing so, models for us true intimacy with God.