Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tehillim Anthology

Tehillim for Every Occasion (1-22)

Tehillim were not meant to be used as a soothsayer or as a magical divination. One should not be searching for the words which will make one’s crisis disappear. Instead, Tehillim should be considered a form of therapy for the individual who is either suffering, scared, or joyous and thankful.

When confronted by a crisis one tends to lose oneself and one’s connection with God. Tehillim is a means towards reconnecting with the self and with God. Each chapter has a different focus, each song reflects a different angle or motif that affected the psalmist and can help us get in touch with those feelings as well.

Reciting the specific psalm is meant to inspire us, engage our minds and hearts towards dealing with the crises before us and to engage our God in our journey towards emerging from this particular crisis.

Here is a list of psalms which relate to certain emotional experiences:

Psalm 1—Appreciating the everyday struggle and the capacity to overcome negative influences and pressures in one’s life leading the way to realizing a metaphysical fortunate existence.

Psalm 2—A meditation about leadership and kingship, acknowledging there are powerful forces which aim to uproot the messengers of God. The king and nation must have faith in the ultimate destruction of evil in the world.

Psalm 3—What happens when those closest to you rebel? How do you feel when you are partially responsible for their errant ways? When it threatens your capacity to parent, or even to exist? Turn to God. Have faith in His guiding hand and accept your predicament while at the same time be encouraged that you can overcome it.

Psalm 5—Morning confidence and even expectation is crucial in how we approach our day. We need to sometimes feel that we can conquer, fulfilling the divine imperative. We do not deny the reality of our present but with prayer and expectation we hope for a brighter future.

Psalm 6—Depression. When we are down all the little hindrances in or world are magnified paralyzing us from functioning. This psalm teaches us to turn to God as our therapist. He will help us emerge from this dark predicament and defeat our demons.

Psalm 7—Justification. Sometimes the cards are turned against us for no reason. We feel the need to justify our actions and question our needless suffering. We turn to God for guidance at why this evil chases us and wears us down. Ultimately we will acknowledge God’s true justice and be able to sing His praises.

Psalm 8—Philosophy. We forget to marvel at God’s world. We must always be aware of our precarious human condition—humbly finite and insignificant on the one hand, and almost infinite and divine on the other. Between the two lies the secret of our human experience.

Psalm 10—Lashing out. The wicked boast, in their success they take pride. This seeming injustice and perversion in our eyes causes us to scream out to God. Why? How? Those who curse God seemingly keep rising higher. The psalm demands from God to rise up, put the wicked in their place, restore equilibrium, at least in our minds.
(similar idea in psalm 11,12)

Psalm 13 How Long? The psalm is short and powerful for anyone in a position of despair, ready to give up because it looks like it will never end. The anxiety builds up and instead of looking to escape reality, call out to God and ask for a respite in the suffering.

Psalm 14 Philosophy about Evil. Sometimes we read Tehillim to understand views on evil in the world, God’s sense of justice and the foolishness of wrongdoers.

Psalm 15. Who is Righteous? Too often we define righteousness by God-related actions. The psalm reminds us about interpersonal character traits and the importance of being a ‘mentch’.

Psalm 16—At a Funeral. Several psalms offer solace for the grieving individual. This one reminds us that God rewards those who cleave to Him and that though we may physically cease to exist, spiritually we rejoice in the knowledge that God will never leave us.

Psalm 17—A Direct Call to God. A prayer directed to God to guard our paths, answer us, show us His loving-kindness, and watch over us. Though our enemies conspire against us we may take faith in God’s governance and reassurance in His justice.

Psalm 18—A Song of Gratitude. Personal salvation, whether physical or emotional, warrants a spiritual response. David, at a time of great peril and precariousness, finds a moment of respite and composes a song to God. Filled with aphorisms of God-consciousness, the psalm provides a template for the believer to use as a springboard for singing out in praise of one’s redeemer.

Psalm 20—God will Answer Me in My time of Need—Every country, city, community and home has a leader who inspires, guides and teaches the populace at any given moment. The leader must be embedded with strength of character, courage, commitment and most of all, a strong subservient connection with the Ultimate Saviour, the True King, God in heaven. In truth, each and every individual is at times a leader, at times a follower; at times ready to charge at life’s vicissitudes, at times willing to listen, learn and emulate those who have taken the mantle and confronted the crisis.

Psalm 22—Despair—My God, My God why have you forsaken me…This famously quoted verse finds it source in David’s treatise on despair and hope, two emotions that sometimes can go hand in hand. Often one figures that when depression sets in there is no outlet to God, no chance to include the notion of salvation. David rejects this by interweaving these seemingly contradictory emotions into one song, prayer and psalm.