I grew up reading Psalms. My father made me read one in the morning and another one in the evening during our family prayer time. I also learned to recite some of them by heart.  After living for half a century around the globe experiencing life in various ways, I still find in psalms the best expression of my own perceptions of life -- the feelings and thoughts hidden deep down in my own heart. I am grateful to my parents for making me read them in my childhood. 

I am presenting a few of my own meditations on some of the psalms in these pages. I am relating the context in which the psalms were written to our own context in the modern world. This is an attempt to have a closer look at our own life here and now with the help of psalms, the invaluable pearls of wisdom that we have inherited from our ancestors.

In psalms I see the deepest feelings and thoughts of human beings. The deepest feelings expressed here are common across all people irrespective of religious or cultural differences. Therefore, I invite all those who possess an open mind to read these meditations.

Available to us as one of the books in the Bible, the Psalms, is a collection of poems and songs. They were written by numerous poets in the Middle East during a period of several centuries. A good part of mankind has sung and meditated upon them since then.

The deepest of human feelings and emotions, the most profound of insights, and the most tragic and joyous of human experiences have been expressed by poetry and music. Throughout the psalms we see such an expression of mankind’s hopes, its despairs, its joys, and its sorrows. We are able to witness here how real human beings face the real challenges of life. The psalms take us beyond creeds and rituals into the heartland of human experience. There we see how people experienced life, and how they interpreted these experiences using the concepts and world-views buried deep down in their subconscious minds. 

Most of the psalms were originally written for liturgical worship. They follow certain literary formats.  A Hymn is a song of praise, in which a community is urged to joyfully sing. A Thanksgiving Psalm is a song of praise acknowledging the Lord as the rescuer of the psalmist from a desperate situation. Another type of psalm is that of the “lament”. The other psalms, however, cannot be neatly classified like this.

The language of the Psalms is that of the poet-- metaphorical and symbolic. The comprehension of psalms, therefore, requires that one be able to decode metaphors. One needs to be able to distinguish between a simile and a metaphor. One also needs to be able to distinguish between a metaphor that is explicit and one that is implicit.

The world appears mostly as a Kingdom ruled by God, the king of kings. The world belongs to God like a kingdom belongs to its king or like a farm belongs to its farmer. The presence of God as king makes the world function as one organized system.  We human beings have a special place in the world—we represent God here.

Life is seen mostly as an adventure trip with God. It is like a pilgrimage—a journey to a holy place. Life is not a recreational trip for the sole purpose of enjoyment. It is an adventure trip which lets us challenge ourselves and learn. Hope and pray that this book will help every reader see life as an adventure trip with God.

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How to use this book

1. You can use this for your own personal meditation.

2. You can lead a Bible study using a meditation here, or all participants may read a meditation from here, and then have a discussion based on it.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. On Meditating the Law of the Lord
2. What is Man?
3. Who is Acceptable to God?
4. Heavens Declare the Glory of God!
5. God: Our Best Friend!
6. The World as a Battlefield
7. Feeling Guilty or Sorry?
8. A Call for an Adventure Trip with God
9. God is our Refuge
10. A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
11. Wash me, O Lord
12. The Dishonesty of Denying God’s Existence
13. God, I seek thee Earnestly!
14. Being with God!
15. In God we have Everything
16. Under the Wings of God
17. It is Good to Praise Thee, O Lord!
18. Let us Listen to the Lord
19. Bless the Lord, O my Soul!
20. The Lord, our Creator and Sustainer
21. The Lesson of History
22. An Emergency Call to Heaven
23. God, the Righteous Judge
24. The Story of the Cornerstone
25. The Roadmap of our Life
26. A pilgrim Song
27. The Beauty of Unity
28. A Song of Patriotism
29. Thoughts of God
30. The World as the Temple of God
Psalms


A Sample Chapter from the Book

7. FEELING GUILTY OR SORRY?
A Meditation of Psalm 32

Feeling sorry and feeling guilty are opposite to each other. They are as different as day and night. One is positive, but the other is negative. Feeling guilty suffocates us, but feeling sorry relieves us. The author of psalm 32, probably David, knew this very well. He explains clearly the difference between the two.

Let us think about Adam, the prototype of all human beings. He did something wrong. He broke an agreement with God, his landlord. He was a steward in God’s garden, and he was strictly told not to eat from a certain tree in the garden. However, he ate from that tree. Soon after breaking the agreement, he felt guilty. As David says, for day and night God’s hand was heavy upon him; his strength withered as in dry summer heat. Adam made an attempt to erase the wrong-doing by hiding it. He tried to avoid coming to the presence of God, the landlord. As David says, as long as he kept silent, his bones wasted away; he groaned all the day. But when God questioned him directly if he ate from the forbidden tree, he admitted he did because he couldn’t hide it any more. But he tried another trick. Instead of taking the blame, he placed it on his wife. He said somewhat as follows: It is true that I did what was wrong, but I am not responsible for it. She made me do it.

It never occurred to Adam that there was another way to deal with the situation. He was not as wise as David. If only he knew what David knew, he would have felt sorry instead of feeling guilty. Driven by blind passion, David, the shepherd of the people of Israel, treacherously murdered a faithful soldier, one of the most heinous crimes someone could do. First he kept silent about it, and as a result, his bones wasted away, and he groaned all the day. However, as soon as his treachery was exposed by Prophet Nathan, he felt sorry for what he did and wept like a child before God. He did not place the blame on anyone else as Adam did. This is what he did in his own words: “Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, ‘I confess my faults to the LORD,’ and you took away the guilt of my sin!”

Imagine if Adam had had the wisdom of David. As soon as he realized what he had done was wrong, he would have gone in search of God, and would have fallen at His feet. He would have said, “God I did a terrible mistake. I broke the agreement. I ate from that tree. I am willing to take any punishment you give me!”

From his own experience, David advises us not to be senseless like horses or mules. Adam was as senseless as a horse or mule. That is why he acted as he did.

It is human to err. God, the all-knowing being, is the only one capable of not doing anything wrong. It is OK for us humans to do wrong deeds. When a child learns to walk, he/she falls several times before he/she is able to walk steadily. No one is born a saint. We all learn the lessons of life by trial and error. But once we do a wrong deed, we have two options: we can either hide it and place the blame on someone else, or we can admit it before God and others and take its blame. It was bad for Adam to have eaten from the tree, but it was much worse for him to hide it and then to place the blame on his wife.

Adam fell down, and he remained there. David fell down, but he got up again and continued his journey of life. We are treading the same path, the same journey, of life today -- our journey in this world from our birth to death. What do we do when we fall down? Do we follow Adam’s approach or David’s approach?