Sunday, September 01, 2013

N.T. Wright on Psalms: "some people are so wicked that we simply must wish judgment upon them"

New book:  The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential  by N.T. Wright

Excerpt here

Interview in Christianity Today:

How does Jesus' entrance into human history affect how we read the Psalms?
Since Jesus was raised from the dead, the first Christians understood that he was the expected Messiah. So their approach to the Psalms had to be reconceived. We have to assume that as good Jews, the first Christians were praying the Psalms day by day, but now with this wholly new and unexpected focus.
It was actually quite disorienting. Instead of the temple, Jesus is the place where God has decided to dwell on the earth. And since the Spirit has been poured out upon the church, somehow God's presence is everywhere, rather than concentrated in one place. The Psalter needed to be re-read from top to bottom and radically refocused around Jesus and the Spirit. This made the first Christians newly aware of Jesus' personal presence in their worship and prayer.
Much of the Psalms, especially the songs of lament, can be unnerving. What should we make of these raw, brutal pleas? Can we pray, with Psalm 139, that God would "slay the wicked"?
Almost all human beings find themselves overcome, from time to time, by extreme anger and hatred. It is not that these emotions should determine how we live. But we must have a way of saying, "Yes, that is actually where I am right now." And the safest and best place to do this is in the presence of God. The Psalms offer us a way of worshiping God amid any and all emotional states.
Also, the Psalms promote a hyperideal hope for the world. They help us see that God wants a world in which there will be no evil. If there is injustice, if the poor are being oppressed, then it is right to pray that God will rid the world of that. Part of our reaction to the so-called "cursing Psalms" is that we think the modern world basically has the problem of evil solved. The Psalms bring us up short and say, "No, evil is real, and some people are so wicked that we simply must wish judgment upon them.  more


characteristic blend of learning, personal insight and spiritual perception. This book will be of enormous help to Christians who want to know how to make fuller use of one of the greatest scriptural resources for prayer.” (Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury)

“Prayer is an act of rebellion. In this incisive and fresh look at the Book of the Psalms, N.T. Wright invites us to enter an alternative worldview that the Psalms embody. Let this book lead you to the Psalms—but beware, it’s the wardrobe door into a new world order.” (Scot McKnight, author of The King Jesus Gospel)

“In The Case for the Psalms, Tom Wright invites readers to enter the biblical world of praise and prayer and be transformed by it. With characteristic clarity, vividness, and depth, Wright’s book will not only encourage you to read the Psalms, but to live them.” (Peter Enns, author of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins)

“All our greatest treasures have a way of getting lost--then rediscovered. I can think of few greater treasures than the great songbook of the songs. I can think of no one better suited to explaining why and how they are to be treasured than N.T. Wright.” (John Ortberg, author of Who Is This Man?)

“Wright… knows the Bible about as well as he knows his name, and on this go plumbs the Psalms. The author’s reflections are pastoral, urging the reader to understand and then pray and sing the Psalms.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Wright finds both personal and ecclesiastical possibilities in the Psalms . . . mining poems for their meaning, seeking context, and searching for resonances in other locations . . . both informed and affecting.” (Library Journal)

“[N.T. Wright] writes a context for what he quotes that is almost as graceful, if not as stunningly beautiful, as the Psalms themselves.” (Booklist



  1. Psalms and N.T. Wright. Two of my favorites. Putting this on my must read list!

  2. i know it..out in a few days..let's get together and talk about it


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