C.S. Lewis on the Psalms

Lewis argues that the reason he first deals with Judgment in the Psalms is because his generation “was brought up to eat everything on the plate; and it was sound principle of nursery gastronomy to polish off the nasty things first and leave the tidbits to the end.” These nasty tidbits are the legitimate and wise cries of a people dependent on their God to act on their behalf.

C.S. Lewis did not often attempt to interpret biblical passages. He was a scholar of literature. He begins his Reflections on the Psalms by making that quite clear: “This is not a work of scholarship.” This is a fortunate introductory remark, but I will add also that this is not a work of biblical scholarship. Lewis overlooks fundamental aspects of general theology, in order to reveal emotional observations from the Psalter. Though he notices the conspicuous presence of parallelisms in the Hebrew language and the beautiful nature of poetry, which Lewis consider to be a “a little incarnation,” yet, he fails to see the harmony of the Psalter with God’s redemptive history. The Psalms are not the utterances of an immature people, they are the breath of a people who understand history and its telos. They are not naive, or “almost childish,” they are the expectations of a people that their God will fulfill and bring to pass his promises of justice. He will vindicate them and bring them to green pastures. Though Lewis finds a purpose for these “terribble (imprecatory) psalms” in the devotional life, the reality is that they should be also used as tools and utterances from God’s people of all ages; not to remain in the privacy of Christian piety, but the public declaration of the Christian gospel.


About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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