Item description for Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book) by C. S. Lewis...
Overview "We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. The Psalms were written as songs; we should read them as poetry, in the spirit of lyric, not as sermons or instructions. But they are also shrouded in mystery, and in this careful reading from one of our most trusted fellow travelers, C.S. Lewis helps us begin to reveal their meaning in our daily lives and in the world. Reflecting again and anew on these beloved passages, we can find both joy and difficulty, but also, always, real enlightenment and moments of transcendent grace.
Publishers Description ""We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."" The Psalms were written as songs; we should read them as poetry, in the spirit of lyric, not as sermons or instructions. But they are also shrouded in mystery, and in this careful reading from one of our most trusted fellow travelers, C.S. Lewis helps us begin to reveal their meaning in our daily lives and in the world. Reflecting again and anew on these beloved passages, we can find both joy and difficulty, but also, always, real enlightenment and moments of transcendent grace. "This book may not tell the reader all he would like to know about the Psalms, but it will tell him a good deal he will not like to know about himself." --"Times Literary Supplement" " Lewis] . . . displays in this volume the same keen insight and gifted tongue that have made him one of the most highly respected essayists using the English language." --"Chicago Sunday Tribune" "Full of illuminating observations." --"New York Times"
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Studio: Mariner Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.1" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.3 lbs.
Release Date Oct 7, 1964
Publisher Harcourt Brace
ISBN 015676248X ISBN13 9780156762489
Availability 0 units.
More About C. S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities who wrote more than thirty books in his lifetime, including The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. He died in 1963.
Reviews - What do customers think about Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book)?
A Master of Literature Reviews the Psalms Feb 26, 2007
It had been awhile since I read any CS Lewis when I picked up this book. It is much different than others I have read, but it was quite enjoyable. Instead of analyzing specific Psalms in detail, Lewis takes a more thematic approach. This method allows him to connect the dots between specific Psalms, and other passage of Scripture as well.
Overall, Lewis does a tremendous job of making his points, and highlighting the fact that the Psalms are poems, and not doctrinal statements. Although I do not agree with all of his conclusions, Lewis really does make you think. I appreciate the fact that I felt like I had completed a successful journey through the book of Psalms after reading the book. It really opened my eyes to some new insights - which is refreshing.
If you like CS Lewis, or are interested in learning more about the Book of Psalms, then I highly recommend this book. You will see something there that you did not see before.
Personal, powerful, intimate Feb 19, 2007
This is not a commentary on the Psalms - this is Lewis wrestling personally with the Psalms, around issues near and dear to his heart. But what better way to encounter the Psalms? They are written as a songbook, as lyrical poems from the heart of one worshiper to another. They aren't primarily doctrinal theses, they are artworks of exceeding skill and ability. Lewis is intellectually and devotionally equipped to engage with the Psalms at a deep level. I love reading his meditations on the Psalms.
Lewis gets to the heart of the matter Apr 27, 2006
Thankfully this is not one of those books on the Psalms that will tell you that this or that Psalm is a lament or a cultic liturgy or an ode to someone bent on the succession of the Davidic monarchy. Lewis gets to the heart of matters, raising and answering questions that concern intelligent believers. For instance, what are we as Christians to make of imprecatory Psalms? Lewis considers not only those who write such Psalms, but also what has happened to them in life to get them to that point. Why so much talk about God's judgment? Lewis corrects the erroneous impression that judgment in the Psalms refers to God's punishment of evil doers. The primary sense is of a plaintiff pleading with God (the Judge) to pass judgment in their favor. What of the apparent self-righteousness of some of the Psalmists? Lewis says that all the talk about the Law is no Pharisaism but a the delight in Order: "The Order of the Divine mind, embodied in the Divine Law is beautiful." (53) Lewis' favorite is Psalm 19 and his writes about it in such a way as to make it come alive. The searching cleansing sun, is the searching cleansing Law. He identifies the key phrase as "there is nothing hid from the heat thereof" (19.6) That, for Lewis, describes the Law: :"luminous, severe, disinfectant, exultant (57). Finally, I must mention the surprising chapter on the subject of praise. Lewis writes that praise is not a matter of telling God how wonderful he is, but a way of expressing gratitude for what we care deeply about. Praise is something all human beings naturally do: we praise things and people that we value. When we praise them we complete our enjoyment of them through our words: "praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment" (81). Despite the fact that Lewis was not a theologian, he had a keener grasp of comparative religion, and Hebraic concepts than many biblical scholars. This is a book written by someone who has spent years praying the Psalms, not by someone who treats the Psalms as if they were an insect under a microscope.
Meditative Oct 28, 2005
Bonhoeffer really drives you into appreciating the spiritual depth of the Psalms and their Christ centred significance. I found the book difficult to put down. A great spiritual read. Tom Davis
The Sensitivity of a Poet and the Honesty of a Scholar Aug 12, 2005
With the sensitivity of a poet and the honesty of a scholar, C.S. Lewis delves into the Psalms. In doing so, he is not afraid to raise uncomfortable questions, such as how to understand the apparent self-righteousness and gleefulness of many psalmists; or the question whether God is an egocentric monarch who demands people to praise Him as if He needed such praise. Other issues Lewis deals with are the concept of Judgment in the Psalms, as well as their portrayals of death, nature, and the beauty of God. He also devotes two chapters to understanding the prophecies, or second meanings, in the Psalms
For me, however, the most interesting part was C.S. Lewis's view on the Bible as seen in the book. Except for some of his essays, letters, and recorded Q&A sessions, C.S. Lewis has been rather sparse on clearly stating his view on Scripture. This makes his Reflections on the Psalms a valuable resource to a Lewis scholar, since it shows his view on the Bible more clearly than any other of his books.
To summarize his view, he emphasizes that the Bible is not a Divine encyclopaedia. We cannot simply turn the Bible to the headwords stars, earth, animals, homo sapiens, and find a Divine exposition that explains God's perspective on the topic in a systematic manner. The Bible is a canon of various types of literature, to be approached in various ways. It is not an encyclopaedia but an anthology: God selecting a canon which, taken as a whole, portrays the history of the Incarnation, using myth, chronicle, poetry and prophecy to do so.
Many people would of course rather have a Divine encyclopaedia than a Divine anthology of human literature. The latter seems to be rather an "untidy and leaky vehicle," as C.S. Lewis puts it. We much prefer "something we could have tabulated and memorised and relied on like the multiplication table." But only because we wish the Bible were different, it does not mean that it is different. God does not necessarily share our opinion that a Divine encyclopaedia would be best for us. As C.S. Lewis says: "There is one argument which we should beware of using for either position: God must have done what is best, this is best, therefore God has done this. For we are mortals and do not know what is best for us, and it is dangerous to prescribe what God must have done - especially when we cannot, for the life of us, see that He has after all done it."
Even Jesus, the Word that truly was perfect, does not measure up to some people's expectations of the Bible. He did not communicate a Divine encyclopaedia to mankind. Jesus wrote no book. "We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context." He preached and conversed rather than lectured, using thereby the whole range of human expressions such as we can expect from a carpenter: "paradox, proverb, exaggeration, parable, irony." If we took all of His sayings literally, they would contradict each other. One can therefore not reduce His teachings to a neat set of Divine principles. Bible teachers who do that lose the essence of the Word made flesh. His teaching "cannot be grasped by the intellect alone, cannot be `got up' as if it were a `subject.' If we try to do that with it, we shall find Him the most elusive of teachers. He hardly ever gave a straight answer to a straight question. He will not be, in the way we want, `pinned down.'" The attempt is, Lewis says, "like trying to bottle a sunbeam."
Neither does the Apostle Paul give us a Divine encyclopaedia. When it comes to lucidity and orderly exposition, Paul is a very bad writer indeed. His letters are a "turbulent mixture of petty detail, personal complaint, practical advice, and lyrical rapture." They are not a collection of treatises on systematic theology. But what we do get from the letters is an example of a Christian's life in action. "Follow me as I follow Christ" is Paul's maxim. We see "Christ Himself operating in a man's life" - which is more valuable than a simple set of dogmas.
If, therefore, even the Word made flesh and the great Apostle cannot be approached like Divine encyclopaedias, how much less the Old Testament? - how much less the documents which portray the history of the Incarnation gradually coming into focus? Indeed, "the value of the Old Testament may be dependant on what seems its imperfection. It may repel one use in order that we may be forced to use it in another way - (...) to re-live, while we read, the whole Jewish experience of God's gradual and graded self-revelation, to feel the very contentions between the Word and the human material through which it works. For here again [as in Jesus' and Paul's teachings], it is our total response that has to be elicited."
Thus far a summary of C.S. Lewis's view on Scripture. For a full exposition, and much more besides, buy the book. You will not regret it.