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Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book) Paperback – October 7, 1964

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Editorial Reviews


Internationally renowned because of his earlier books, among them tape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis - making religion provoking, memorable and delightful is still more - latest Reflections on the Psalms. Though he protests that he writes - learned about things in which he is unlearned himself, the reader is likely- thank God for his wise ignorance. Here especially he throws a clear lightly or not, on many of the difficult psalms, such as those which abound with and cursing, and a self-centeredness which seems to assume' that God must be side of the psalmist. These things, which make some psalm singers pre- not there, have a right and proper place, as Mr. Lewis shows us. They - of Psalms more precious still. Many readers owe it to themselves to read - flections if only to learn this hard but simple lesson. Urge everyone to this book. (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. A Fellow and tutor at Oxford until 1954, he spent the rest of his career as Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, inlcuding The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy.

Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 7, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015676248X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156762489
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

193 of 195 people found the following review helpful By David Graham on April 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
It's a shame that so many of the people who enjoy Lewis's theological works never read his enlightening discussion of the Psalms. This book does not have the polemic approach of some of his other works. This is (by Lewis's own admission) not a work of scholarship, being more like one schoolboy comparing notes with another in describing the difficulties met and joys gained in reading the Psalms. Lewis notes that the Psalms are poems, intended to be sung, and not doctrinal treatises on which to base a system of theology. He selects various psalms for his discussions, enlightening them with his usual good sense, using illustrations from daily life and the literary world. Lewis's approach is far more helpful than most others who comment on the Psalms and should be read with interest by those familiar with this part of the Bible.
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104 of 112 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on March 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
The first time I read this book, many years ago, I was bothered by what I took as Lewis' disrespectful approach to the OT. One chapter of the book is called "Cursings," and in it Lewis forthrightly notes his initial impression that "the Jews are much more vindictive and vitriolic than the Pagans." While he finds something of great value (even refreshing) in their honest anger at injustice, (see Rene Girard's The Scapegoat for a fascinating perspective on violence and religion) some passages he still labels "diabolical." In the following chapter, "Death in the Psalms," Lewis frankly admits that most of the psalmists did not appear to know about heaven and hell. And in his chapter on "Scripture," he admits to the presence of "naivite, error, contradiction, even wickedness," in the OT.
I did not like this. Nor did I know enough about nature poetry and paganism, monotheism in other cultures, or Meditteranean cultures, to appreciate all his insights.
What I think I did appreciate, and still do, was the way in which Lewis explains the poetry of the Psalms, the "beauty of the Law," (as in Psalm 119), love of nature, "second meanings" in the Psalms, and most of all, the life-enhancing chapter called "A Word about Praising." John Piper developed this chapter into a whole theology. (See Confessions of a Christian Hedonist.) But the most poetic explanation lies here: "I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise . . . I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time the most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while cranks, misfits and malconents praised least . . . Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible . . . The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Schriftman on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By D. Lord on August 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
C.S. Lewis points out some very interesting facts and shows you his perspective on the psalms. He uses several different aspects to review such as their view of death, afterlife, suffering, etc. He points out that the Psalms are songs and should be interprated with that fact in mind. That alone adds a new perspective to the Psalms. He also makes it clear that the Psalms are not neccessarily to be viewed from a Christian perspective because the writers were not Christians.

The only downside I can see in the book is C.S. Lewis' writing style. He supposes his readers know certain historical figures and are versed in numerous literary writings on certain subjects. If you are not a person who reads these types of things all the time it may come difficult for you. Either way you will still get something out of it. Many time Christians, such as myself, try to make something in the Bible what we want it to be, and I believe we have done that to the Psalms over and over again. Have a read!
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