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Reflections on the Psalms by C. S. Lewis
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Reflections on the Psalms (1961)

by C. S. Lewis

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The thing I love most about this little book is the speculative nature of it, which Lewis owns from the first sentence: "This is not a work of scholarship." He's conjecturing based on his knowledge of ancient cultures and the context of the whole Bible. I'm not sure about some of his conclusions, but he isn't either. He asks questions such as, did the inspired writers always know what they penned was inspired? Do the psalmists ever sin with their words (cursing their enemies, etc) and if so, what use are such writings to the Christian (i.e. why does God want us to read them?).

Lewis compares and contrasts often: other ancient works of similar literary genre to the psalms, the ancient Jewish perspective to the Christian perspective. He references specific psalms as well as the book in general to muse about topics like death, joy, praise, nature, the Law, and the Messianic "second meanings." I would not start a reader here to discover his nonfiction work, but for those of us who enjoy spending time with his humble, honest reflections on any topic, this book is certainly worthwhile. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
Best known as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia and several book on Christian apologetics, C.S. Lewis here takes a variety of "reflections" on themes in Psalms, not as an expert but as a companion reading alongside.

Each chapter focuses on one aspect of the Psalms, starting with what Lewis considers the hardest ones - vengeance, for example, and cursing - broken down topically in an almost random way. The final three chapters are closely intertwined, discussing "second meanings" when perhaps the author is talking about more than he actually meant and readers are interpreting it differently in literature, Scripture in general, and then finally the Psalms. Though not my favorite Lewis, Psalms is one of my favorite parts of Scripture so it was fun to get an idea of what Lewis thought of these topics (definitely have your own translation with you, as he refers to specific verses throughout often without quoting them or expanding much on them). ( )
  bell7 | Feb 13, 2018 |
I always enjoy Lewis. This is a different kind of book for him. Not strictly apologetics, but it shows this very intelligent, classicly trained English gentleman wrestling with aspects of the Psalms that can be off-putting for many. I don't always agree with what he says, but enjoy seeing how he gets there. Always intrigued when a non-theologian writes about religion. What if I were to write about plumbing?
This book has a lot that makes it profitable to read. ( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
I enjoy Lewis's religious writings immensely--something which I always find a bit perplexing since I do not consider myself religious and often have very little or no real understanding of the doctrine or scriptures he is discussing. But he writes about difficult concepts well, and I usually leave his books with some sense that I've understood something I didn't before. Often I get insight into the world from his musings, too (in this book, chapter five sparked some useful thinking about the rampant commercialism of Christmas). There's no doubt that Lewis sometimes comes off super pompous and I often want to smack him upside the head and remind him that not everyone is a white, male, educated, protestant from Britain, but there's worth to be found here if you can accept and see past the fact that he will always sound very much like he's only talking to other people just like him. ( )
  lycomayflower | Nov 18, 2015 |
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."e;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."e; Times Literary Supplement"e;[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."e; Chicago Sunday Tribune"e;Full of illuminating observations."e; New York Times
  Priory | Jan 22, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 015676248X, Paperback)

“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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In one of his most enlightening works, C. S. Lewis shares his ruminations on both the form and the meaning of selected psalms. In the introduction he explains, "I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." Consequently, he takes on a tone of thoughtful collegiality as he writes on one of the Bible's most elusive books. Characteristically graceful and lucid, Lewis cautions us that the psalms were originally written as songs that should now be read in the spirit of lyric poetry rather than as doctrinal treatises or sermons. Drawing from daily life as well as the literary world, Lewis begins to reveal the mystery that often shrouds the psalms. This book also includes an appendix featuring the full text of selected psalms and a listing of all the psalms mentioned and discussed.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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