The Taser's Edge

Reading the Psalms by Choosing to Overwhelm Ourselves

If you read the Psalms according to the Book of Common Prayer’s Daily Office, you will have nice-sized pieces.  The trade-off is how many Psalms you read (or don’t read, really).  At some point, I really think quantity can be helpful in reading Scripture, because sometimes (certainly not always) overwhelming our conscious capacities to understand Scripture can do wonderful formational things in us.  I mean, if it worked for all kinds of religious orders for hundreds of years to memorize the entire Psalter or to at least read it all aloud once a week, then why can’t we handle something anywhere near that?

Thankfully, if you read your Psalms from the Book of Common Prayer (any edition), it’s broken down into a month’s worth of Morning and Evening sections.  There’s not a particular artfulness to it, as far as I know, like there sometimes is with the Daily Office bringing interesting Scriptures together.  But there is something wonderful about reading the entire book of Psalms once a month.  If you don’t do or have a BCP, then just mark up your Bible a bit, making numbered sections.

What’s more, if you miss a day or three, just start with today’s Psalms and trust that you will hit the ones you missed next month.  That little bit of grace offered to yourself tomorrow morning might make your day.

Steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood

For the past two weeks, the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer has been giving me a taste of the Wisdom of Solomon, and it’s really great stuff.  This morning, I found that the first fourteen verses of Wisdom 10 lay out the entire book of Genesis.  Masterful use of allusion, as not a single name is given, but almost every event you can think of in Genesis is described, and beautifully:

1 Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created; she delivered him from his transgression, 2 and gave him strength to rule all things. 3 But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger, he perished because in rage he killed his brother. 4 When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it, steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood. 5 Wisdom also, when the nations in wicked agreement had been put to confusion, recognized the righteous man and preserved him blameless before God, and kept him strong in the face of his compassion for his child. 6 Wisdom rescued a righteous man when the ungodly were perishing; he escaped the fire that descended on the Five Cities. 7 Evidence of their wickedness still remains: a continually smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit that does not ripen, and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul. 8 For because they passed wisdom by, they not only were hindered from recognizing the good, but also left for humankind a reminder of their folly, so that their failures could never go unnoticed. 9 Wisdom rescued from troubles those who served her. 10 When a righteous man fled from his brother’s wrath, she guided him on straight paths; she showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of holy things; she prospered him in his labors, and increased the fruit of his toil. 11 When his oppressors were covetous, she stood by him and made him rich. 12 She protected him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those who lay in wait for him; in his arduous contest she gave him the victory, so that he might learn that godliness is more powerful than anything else. 13 When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him, but delivered him from sin. She descended with him into the dungeon, 14 and when he was in prison she did not leave him, until she brought him the scepter of a kingdom and authority over his masters. Those who accused him she showed to be false, and she gave him everlasting honor.