- Series: Harvest Book
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (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: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Book) 1st Edition
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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)
From the Back Cover
" 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"
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. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, including The Chronicles of Narnia series, "The Screwtape Letters," "The Four Loves," "Mere Christianity," and "Surprised by Joy."
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Top Customer Reviews
This (the Harvest Book) is the version of this booklet you want. Avoid, like the plague, the versions where this is reprinted as part of a larger volume, these larger volumes may look nice and have leather bindings, but they are nearly useless. That is because the page numbering must be as the original booklet. At the back is Appendix 2, "Psalms Discussed or Mentioned", and it is critical to opening up the full appreciation of this booklet. Also there is Appendix 1, "Selected Psalms", which has the text of the Coverdale translation of seven Psalms. This is the original translation of the Psalms to English, it is very poetic, and it is the version said and sung in Anglican churches for about 500 years Why does this matter? C. S. Lewis was Anglican, and that Church has worshiped using the Psalms for 500 years. One Psalm is said or sung in every service.
C. S. Lewis begins this booklet, "This is not a work of Scholarship. I am no Hebraist, no higher critic, no ancient historian, no archeologist. I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." He then likens his book to two students solving problems together rather than consulting the expert teacher who was very likely to "explain what you understood already, to add a great deal of information that you didn't want, and to say nothing at all about the problem that was puzzling you."
I must say that it was impossible for me not to grow in appreciation for the Psalms as I read this booklet. I also grew my appreciation of Mr. Lewis, of course, and in my appreciation of art. Art in the largest sense, where one sees the art in counting, dance, music, language, the universe, chaos, ...
Mr. Lewis composed this as essays on themes is the Psalms, like Judgement, Cursings, Death, "The Fair Beauty of the Lord", "Sweeter than Honey", Connivance, Nature, Praising, Second Meanings, Scripture, and, curiously, "Second Meanings In the Psalms." These are arranged and progress as chapters, but I have found that randomly opening and re-reading an essay is profoundly satisfying and enlightening. Unlike so many studies where one can always predict what comes next, in Lewis' work there is always a delightful surprise coming in the next paragraph or page.
The ninth chapter, "A Word About Praising," is a great example. I just re-read it. He starts, "It is possible (and this is to be hoped) that this chapter will be unnecessary for most people. Those who were never thick-headed enough to get into the difficulty it deals with may find it funny." I suppose some may find it funny, but I am notoriously thick-headed, and I wonder, each time I read it, if I will actually understand the joke this time. When I finish, I know I do understand, but the joy I learned about praising has yet to translate into any laughter from me, though I can imagine an angel or two -- or Lewis -- snickering at me behind a folded wing or hand.
Read this for a love of language, art, history, or God. There is gold at the end of each chapter.
This book presents Lewis about as far as he gets from the Fundamentalist interpretation of the Scripture. Lewis treats the Psalms much as he would treat any ancient text: with great respect but without any sense that they are more than an ancient text of the writings and songs of devout people who worship God but worship Him in a certain amount of ignorance.
But I am amazed at his dismissal and reduction of the imprecation Psalms. Surely as a scholar of ancient literature, he knew that kings uttered boasts before their convocations of all that they would do to their enemies. As men who claimed to be the divine offspring of the gods themselves, they made loud claims about the terrors and horrors they would inflict upon those who harmed them.
The fact that David DOES NOT DO THIS shows a tremendous faith and humility in Israel's King. David quite literally places his boast in God, calling upon God as the defender of the nation to do these things, showing by example that he is refraining from doing them and is waiting upon God to act as Israel's sovereign ruler. Yes, the imprecatory Psalms get really colorful and vivid and horrible in what they describe, and Lewis censures them for this, but David is deliberately using the method of other nations to show that he places these matters into God's Hands. Lewis' failure to perceive this nuance disappointed me so much that the rest of the book was a bit of a letdown. If we accept David as a real, historic king of Israel, then no wonder Jerusalem was called the City of Justice, for it is clear that there were no purges or secret police under David. The imprecatory Psalms testify of this. They are very important psalms and actually serve as evidence that Israel was, indeed, a very different kingdom from her neighbors.
So the book was a bit of a let down for me in one sense, but still very worth reading and very insightful, I would recommend it to anybody just emerging from Christian Fundamentalism. Lewis is truly, devoutly Christian. But he has a different point of view from those of us who grew up in the most conservative corners of Christendom. Exposure to his ideas and POV is a good thing.