The Psalms of David, in sublimity, beauty, pathos, and originality, or in one word, poetry, are superior to all the odes, hymns, and songs in our language. So states John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. Were Adams alive today, 200 years later, it is unlikely he would change a word. For The Psalms of David live on. They are both universal and eternal.
Although typically thought of as hymns of praise to God, the psalms are so much more. They are invoked to comfort and instruct; to lament and inspire; to bless, and yes, even to curse. The psalms praise, plead, instruct, reflect, recount, and chastise. In tone, they span the gamut of human emotions from ecstasy to despair, indignation to remorse, grief to relief, fear to awe, and rage to love. They talk about the rewards of righteousness, the pitfalls of evil, the grandeur of the universe, and the corruption of mankind. They look forward to Messianic times, backward to Creation. In metaphors and poetry unsurpassed, The psalms depict God's Might and His Benevolence; God's Judgment and His Compassion; God's Glory and His Righteousness.
They will comfort, encourage, and guide you— help you appeal to a Higher Power regardless of your situation in life. They also will instruct: how to live righteously or at least start on that road. For if one is sincere, God will listen. Indeed, if you feel unworthy to pray to God, that alone makes you worthy.
For in truth, there are no miracle cures, no shortcut to making money, no pill to lose weight overnight, no foolproof method of making a fortune in real-estate. To be blessed you have to earn it with your deeds-and prayers. For God is gracious and forgiving, awaiting each of us, whatever our faith, to turn to Him. The Psalms of David can help us do so; they can guide us back to God.
Used extensively in both Jewish and Christian prayer services, they can be recited by an individual in private, used by a teacher to instruct, or proclaimed by a leader to inspire. They are sung joyously during celebrations; recited in barely audible tones in times of grief. What English-speaking individual is unmoved by Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He enables me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters...
Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil.
For You are with me...
Your rod and Your staff comfort me...
My cup runneth over.
Yet the above is only one of numerous psalms, if less well-known, that address universal themes in wonderful poetic fashion; compositions that we all need at one time or another; when overwhelmed or remorseful, when grief-stricken or enraged, in times of despair or times of joy; whether in a formal prayer service, or individually, as part of our own special relationship with God.
Can anyone deny the power and majesty of The Psalms—A Book for all Reasons?
Yet, for lack of a road map, they are tragically under-utilized; a fabulously rich gold mine, their ore has not been extracted for lack of tools. That does nothing to help the millions of people who desperately seek a means that will allow them to connect to a Higher Power. For these days, we surely need God more than ever. And He does listen!
A Guide to the Psalms of David rectifies that major shortcoming and makes the psalms accessible to the English-speaking public—of all races, religions, and creeds—who can benefit from their wisdom and guidance. Its unique taxonomy, classifying all 150 psalms within four major categories, will enable you to easily find the right psalm at the time you need it most.
Additionally, I have taken pains in the translation not to interpret the psalms religiously, but to make them accessible to anyone who believes or would like to believe in one God; anyone who may be suffering or directionless—to find solace, gain wisdom, receive a new awareness or be transformed—resulting in healing and/or reconsideration of personal ethics to be more inclined toward "clean hands and a pure heart."
For is it not time to renew our faith? Do we not realize God knows everything we do? He who made eyes, does He not see? He who fashioned ears, does He not hear?
Surely, only if we all, individually, decide it is time we improve the way we relate to others can there be hope for a future of peace and prosperity. Now is the time to begin! I urge each of you to try to do just a little better; try to be a little kinder; try to live your life with more integrity!
Please feel free to explore our website. Read the inspirational essays in Stevespage, listen to readings of selected psalms under Audio, and explore over 50 pages of excerpts from A Guide To the Psalms of David by clicking Look Inside. Please also feel free to print or copy anything that lies within our site for later use or to share with others.
Steve Rosner: April 2012