Last Sunday we began a journey through the Psalter in our Sunday school class. For years now I have found that I spend more and more time in the Wisdom Literature of the Bible than nearly anywhere else. For a long time, my preferred Old Testament book has remained Ecclesiastes. It is the fountain of countless literary references/book titles/motifs/themes/images, etc. Here are just a few of my favorites:
- “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises” (Eccl 1:5) served as Hemingway’s fountain for The Sun Also Rises.
- “There is no remembrance of former things” (Eccl 1:11) served as Proust’s fountain for Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time.
- Ecclesiastes 3 has so many literary children it should make your head spin. Tolstoy’s War and Peace, as just one example, has its titular fountain in “a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Eccl 3:8).
- Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth has its titular fountain in Ecclesiastes 7:4, “but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
On and on it goes in Ecclesiastes.
But as I slow down, read, and meditate on the Psalter, the poems find their way into me. They seep out in my thinking, speaking, and writing.
As an example, I choose not to watch the so-called news because it is little more than ad hominem character assassinations and agendas long ago bought and paid for.
And Psalm 2 makes it so clear why:
Why do the nation rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us. (Psalm 2:1-3 ESV)
Secularism/paganism in all its forms hates God. And the behavior of the masses demonstrates this. They “rage,” just as Scripture says. And God, of course, laughs (Psalm 2:4a). In fact, “the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4b) because they’re sealing their just doom.
The Psalms explain so much of human behavior, of the irreconcilable different paths between those who walk with the wicked vs. those who walk in the Lord’s way (Psalm 1).
I say irreconcilable, but that is premature. There is a way of reconciliation. It is God’s way, and God’s way is Christ and the gospel.