Flower

Psalms

“Many of the Fathers have loved and praised the book of Psalms above all other books of the Bible. No books of moral tales and no legends of saints which have been written, or ever will be, are to my mind as noble as the Book of Psalms; and if my purpose were to choose the best of all the edificatory books.. and to have them assembled and presented in the best possible way, my choice would inevitably fall on our present Book.

“In it we find what all saints do — their attitude to God, to their friends, to their foes; and their manner of life and behavior in face of manifold dangers and sufferings. Above all this, the book contains divine and helpful doctrines and commandments of every kind. It should be precious to us if only because it most clearly promises the death and resurrection of Christ, and describes his kingdom, and the nature and standing of all Christian people. It could well be called a “little Bible” since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that’s to be found in the whole Bible, a book of good examples from among the whole of Christendom and from among the saints, in order that those who could not read the whole Bible through would have almost the whole of it in summary form.

“The Book of Psalms has other excellencies: it preserves, not the trivial and ordinary things said by the saints, but their deepest and noblest utterances, those which they used when speaking in full earnest and all urgency to God.It not only tells what they say about their work and conduct, but also lays bare their hearts and the deepest treasures hidden in their souls: and this is done in such a way which allows us to contemplate the causes and the sources of their words and works.

“The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven. The Book of Psalms is full of heartfelt utterances made during storms of this kind. Where can one find nobler words to express joy than in the Psalms of praise or gratitude? In them you can see into the hearts of saints as if you were looking at a lovely pleasure-garden, or were gazing into heaven. How fair and charming and delightful and the flowers you will find there..

“It is therefore easy to understand why the Book of Psalms is the favorite book of all the saints. For every man on every occasion can find in it Psalms which fit his needs, which he feels to be as appropriate as if they had been set there just for his sake. In no other book can he find words to equal them, nor better words… Place the Book of Psalms in front of you; you will see your own self in it, for here is the true “know thyself,” by which you can know yourself as well as the God who created all things.

“To this end, may we be helped by the Father of all grace and mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be praise and thanks, honor and glory.”

from Martin Luther, 1528 Preface to the Psalms.

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