Tag Archives: Book of Psalms

“The LORD’s my shepherd, I’ll not want” – Psalm 23 (The Scottish Psalter, 1650)

Psalm 23
Scottish Psalter Version

1 The LORD’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
2 He makes me down to lie
In pastures green: He leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

3 My soul He doth restore again;
and me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
ev’n for His own name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
yet will I fear none ill:
For Thou art with me; and Thy rod
and staff me comfort still.

5 My table Thou hast furnished
in presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
and my cup overflows.

6 Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me:
And in God’s house forevermore
my dwelling-place shall be.

–“Psalm 23,” in Sing Psalms: New Metrical Versions Of The Book Of Psalms With The Scottish Psalter (1650) (Edinburgh: Free Church of Scotland, 2003).

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“Blessed is the one who truly looks for help to Jacob’s God” – Psalm 146 (The Scottish Psalter, 1650)

Psalm 146
Scottish Psalter Version

1 Praise the LORD, my soul! O praise Him!
2 I’ll extol Him all my days.
While I live, to God my Saviour
from my heart I will sing praise.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
mortal men who cannot save.
4 All their plans will come to nothing
when they perish in the grave.

5 Blessed is the one who truly
looks for help to Jacob’s God;
Blessed is the one who places
all his hope upon the LORD–

6 He who made the earth and heaven
and the seas, with all their store;
He who keeps His every promise,
who is faithful evermore.

7 He delivers from oppression
and relieves the hungry’s plight.
He releases those in prison;
8 to the blind the LORD gives sight.

Those who are bowed down He raises.
God delights in righteousness.
9 He protects and cares for strangers,
widows and the fatherless.

He frustrates the wicked’s purpose.
10 So the LORD through endless days
Reigns to every generation.
Praise your God, O Zion, praise!

–“Psalm 146,” in Sing Psalms: New Metrical Versions Of The Book Of Psalms With The Scottish Psalter (1650) (Edinburgh: Free Church of Scotland, 2003).

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“The heaven of grace prevails and rules” by Martin Luther

“The psalmist uses the word ‘prevail’ (Ps. 117:2); that is, God’s grace ‘rules’ over us. It is a kingdom of grace that is more powerful in and over us than all anger, sin, and evil. ‘Prevail,’ גָּבַר in Hebrew, means to be supreme, to be great.

You must think of the kingdom of grace as a child might, in this way: God, through the Gospel, has set a new and great heaven over us who believe, and this is called the heaven of grace. It is far, far more immense and beautiful than this visible heaven; and it is eternal, certain, and indestructible as well.

Although sin makes itself felt, death bares its teeth, and the devil frightens us, still there is far more grace to prevail over all sin, far more life to prevail over death, and far more God to prevail over all devils.

In this kingdom sin, death, and the devil are nothing more than the black clouds of the material heaven. For a time they may well conceal heaven, but they cannot prevail. They must stay beneath the heavens and suffer it to remain, prevail, and rule over them; and at last they must pass away.

Therefore although sin bites us, death frightens us, and the devil throws his weight around with temptation, these are still only clouds. The heaven of grace prevails and rules; in the end they must remain below and surrender.

This cannot come through works, but only through the faith which is certain that such a heaven of grace is above it, without works, and which looks to this heaven as often as it sins or feels sin, comforting itself without merit or works.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 14: 27. Luther is commenting on Psalm 117.

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“Other Psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean” by Charles Spurgeon

“I have been all the longer over this portion of my task because I have been bewildered in the expanse of the One Hundred and Nineteenth Psalm, which makes up the bulk of this volume. Its dimensions and its depth alike overcame me.

It spread itself out before me like a vast, rolling prairie, to which I could see no bound, and this alone created a feeling of dismay. Its expanse was unbroken by a bluff or headland, and hence it threatened a monotonous task, although the fear has not been realized.

This marvelous poem seemed to me a great sea of holy teaching, moving, in its many verses, wave upon wave; altogether without an island of special and remarkable statement to break it up.

I confess I hesitated to launch upon it. Other Psalms have been mere lakes, but this is the main ocean. It is a continent of sacred thought, every inch of which is fertile as the garden of the Lord: it is an amazing level of abundance, a mighty stretch of harvest-fields.

I have now crossed the great plain for myself, but not without persevering, and, I will add, pleasurable, toil. Several great authors have traversed this region and left their tracks behind them, and so far the journey has been all the easier for me; but yet to me and to my helpers it has been no mean feat of patient authorship and research.

This great Psalm is a book in itself: instead of being one among many Psalms, it is worthy to be set forth by itself as a poem of surpassing excellence.

Those who have never studied it may pronounce it commonplace, and complain of its repetitions; but to the thoughtful student it is like the great deep, full, so as never to be measured; and varied, so as never to weary the eye.

Its depth is as great as its length; it is mystery, not set forth as mystery, but concealed beneath the simplest statements.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 111-119, Volume 5 (London: Marshall Brothers, 1882), 5: v.

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“They knew the whole Psalter by heart” by Charles Spurgeon

“The Book of Psalms has been a royal banquet to me, and in feasting upon its contents I have seemed to eat angels’ food. It is no wonder that old writers should call it,—the school of patience, the soul’s soliloquies, the little Bible, the anatomy of conscience, the rose garden, the pearl island, and the like.

It is the Paradise of devotion, the Holy Land of poetry, the heart of Scripture, the map of experience, and the tongue of saints. It is the spokesman of feelings which else had found no utterance.

Does it not say just what we wished to say? Are not its prayers and praises exactly such as our hearts delight in?

No man needs better company than the Psalms; therein he may read and commune with friends human and divine; friends who know the heart of man towards God and the heart of God towards man; friends who perfectly sympathize with us and our sorrows, friends who never betray or forsake.

Oh, to be shut up in a cave with David, with no other occupation but to hear him sing, and to sing with him! Well might a Christian monarch lay aside his crown for such enjoyment, and a believing pauper find a crown in such felicity.

It is to be feared that the Psalms are by no means so prized as in earlier ages of the Church. Time was when the Psalms were not only rehearsed in all the churches from day to day, but they were so universally sung that the common people knew them, even if they did not know the letters in which they were written.

Time was when bishops would ordain no man to the ministry unless he knew ‘David’ from end to end, and could repeat each Psalm correctly; even Councils of the Church have decreed that none should hold ecclesiastical office unless they knew the whole Psalter by heart.

Other practices of those ages had better be forgotten, but to this memory accords an honourable record. Then, as Jerome tells us, the labourer, while he held the plough, sang Hallelujah; the tired reaper refreshed himself with the Psalms, and the vinedresser, while trimming the vines with his curved hook, sang something of David.

He tells us that in his part of the world, Psalms were the Christian’s ballads; could they have had better? They were the love-songs of the people of God; could any others be so pure and heavenly?

These sacred hymns express all modes of holy feeling; they are fit both for childhood and old age; they furnish maxims for the entrance of life, and serve as watchwords at the gates of death.

The battle of life, the repose of the Sabbath, the ward of the hospital, the guest-chamber of the mansion the church, the oratory, yea, even heaven itself may be entered with Psalms.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 111-119, Volume 5 (London: Marshall Brothers, 1882), 5: vi–vii.

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“The neglect of Scripture by spiritual leaders is one of the greatest evils in the world” by Martin Luther

To the venerable lord, Fredrick, Abbot of Saint Giles of Nuremberg, my gracious lord and patron. Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Savior!

My venerable and dear lord and patron:

While I should like to show my gratitude to you for your love and favor to me, I am, by earthly standards, a beggar. Besides, even if I had much, there is nothing special I could do for you in your position.

And so I turned to my wealth, which I treasure so much, and took up my beloved Psalm, the beautiful Confitemini (i.e. Psalm 118), putting down on paper the thoughts which came to me.

I am quite idle here in the wilderness. And yet, in order to spare my head, I need to pause and rest occasionally in the hard work that I hope to complete soon, the translation of the Old Testament prophets into German.

These thoughts of mine I decided to send you as a gift. I have nothing better. Though some may consider this a lot of useless drivel, I know it contains nothing evil or unchristian.

This is my own beloved Psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially.

Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this Psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles.

As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the Pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this Psalm for all of it.

But lest anyone, knowing that this Psalm belongs to the whole world, raise his eyebrow at my claim that this Psalm is mine, may he be assured that no one is being robbed. After all, Christ is mine, and yet He belongs to all believers.

I will not be jealous but will gladly share what is mine. Would to God all the world would claim this Psalm for its own, as I do! Peace and love could not compare with such a friendly quarrel.

Sad to say, there are few, even among those who should do better, who honestly say even once in their lifetime to Scripture or to one of the Psalms: ‘You are my beloved Book! You must be my very own Psalm!’

The neglect of Scripture, even by spiritual leaders, is one of the greatest evils in the world. Everything else, arts or literature, is pursued and practiced day and night, and there is no end of labor and effort.

But Holy Scripture is neglected as though there were no need of it. Those who condescend to read it want to absorb everything at once.

There has never been an art or a book on earth that everyone has so quickly mastered as the Holy Scriptures!? But its words are not, as some think, mere literature. They are words of life, intended not for speculation and fantasy but for life and action.

But why complain? No one pays any attention to our lament.

May Christ our Lord help us by His Spirit to love and honor His holy Word with all our hearts. Amen.

I commit myself to your prayer.

Out of the desert,
July 1, 1530
Martin Luther”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 45–46. This passage is from the preface to Luther’s exposition of Psalm 118, his “beloved Psalm.”

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“Meditating day and night” by William Plumer

“Another positive sign of a renewed man is that he meditates in the law of the LORD day and night. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’

Vain thoughts lodge in all ungodly men. But the righteous hate sinful imaginings. What the wicked would be ashamed to act or speak out, the righteous is ashamed to think or desire.

Yet the mind of the righteous is full of activity. He meditates. The power of reflection chiefly distinguishes a man from a brute.

The habit of reflection chiefly distinguishes a wise man from a fool. Pious reflection on God’s word greatly distinguishes a saint from a sinner.

Without meditation grace never thrives, prayer is languid, praise dull, and religious duties unprofitable.

Yet to flesh and blood without divine grace this is an impossible duty.

It is easier to take a journey of a thousand miles than to spend an hour in close, devout, profitable thought on divine things.

Like prayer (Luke 18:7), meditation is to be pursued day and night, not reluctantly, but joyously, not merely in God’s house, or on the Lord’s day, but whenever other duties do not forbid.

Nor does the true child of God slight part of divine truth. He loves it all.

A saint is therefore described by his ‘meditating in the law of God day and night,’ which is the natural and necessary effect of his delight in it.”

–William Plumer, Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, originally published in 1867; reprinted 2016), 28.

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