Reflection on the Psalms: Psalms convey thoughts and feelings in images and sounds
Poets use a lot of imagination to convey their thoughts and feelings. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines poetry as “literature which evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through a language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound and rhythm”.
03 Jul 2021
By Bishop James Gnanapiragasam
Poets use a lot of imagination to convey their thoughts and feelings. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines poetry as “literature which evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through a language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound and rhythm”. Robert Frost in “Stopping in the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” shows his protagonist a scene in the woods when even his horse finds it strange to stop there without a farm nearby. But then the rider moves on, he can’t just pass the time admiring the woods because “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”.
The Psalms also convey thoughts and feelings in images and sounds. The verses are written in figurative language. Symbols are used to give a deeper meaning. The psalmist is aware of his experience and gives an emotional response. We see examples in the following Psalms.
Songs of the Ascension (4) Ps 127 (128) OD (Daily Prayer) Week 4 Thursday Prayer during the day pg. 1326; Ps 126 (127) Week 3 Wednesday Evening Prayer p. 577.
These are companion psalms and they show some teachings of the tradition of Wisdom in Israel. In Ps 127 (128) the pilgrims are blessed on their arrival in Jerusalem. Blessings are poured out on one who “fears” the Lord. Fear is not terror or fearful obedience, but “walking in his ways.” The virtuous man will enjoy the favor of God and will experience happiness. The proof of this happiness is a loving wife at the heart of the house and many children around the table. You can almost imagine the fruitful bunches of grapes and olive shoots. But we must not be too naive. Experience teaches us that material success does not always mean that a man was virtuous.
God established the “house,” a picture of the family or home which in biblical times consisted of a number of families under the authority of the older married man. All success in life would then be a gift from God, not of human effort or effort. Even the multitude of the sons are like arrows in a man’s quiver. The Psalms convey thoughts and feelings in images and sounds. Thinking about the Psalms must fear the others at the city gates that were the civic center at that time. (Pr 31:23)
Ps 127 (128) reminds us how Jesus would have prayed. He proclaimed the Christian Charter in the beatitudes; he taught marital fidelity. Commentators say there are mystical allusions to this psalm. The allusions: the bride of Jesus is the Church (Rev 19: 7; 21: 2) and we are the children of the whole world gathered around the table of the Eucharist. Vatican Council II also recalls that the Church is like a vine of choice and that Christ, the true vine, gives us life and fruitfulness, the branches. (LG 6)
Happiness will be ours if we live and walk in his ways. We overcome our selfishness by creating a family and the family is ordained by God. Love itself is a gift from God. As we recite this psalm, let us pray for those we love, for lovers and for fidelity in the marriage of the couples we know. In addition, a family cannot be isolated from others. The Psalm tells us that God blesses us out of Zion and all future generations in a happy and peaceful Jerusalem (world). Thus, he invites us to pray for our city, our kampung, our country and our fellow citizens. We learn to praise and worship the Lord, not just pray for happiness when things go wrong. Thank him at all times.