Songs of praise and awakening

IF THERE'S ONE WORD usually associated with the Bible's book of Psalms it's probably praise. Many of the psalms are praise lyrics that were composed to glorify a praiseworthy God. The psalms were, and are, to be sung with the joy that comes from feeling God's profound love for us, individually and as the human family. But many of the psalms are also protest songs. Some were written and sung or chanted to protest injustice and oppression, to cry out against fear and pending dangers.

The Psalmist, or psalmists, did not ignore the cruelties of human existence. Didn't say life would be all sweetness and light. Didn't hide from the demand to walk through the death-valley's shadow. They knew that we sometimes face forms of evil that seem beyond comprehension. But taken as a body of 150 songs, the Bible's psalms deliver a powerful message of hope along with their sometimes rude awakenings to the enemy without and within. They promise that we will walk through that shadow and, somehow and at some time, find a surer, purer, lasting light.

August 2, 2004

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