A Psalm for Every Occasion

“Athanasius, the great African theologian…wrote a marvelous letter about the Psalms…The gist of the letter is that the Psalms are the best part of the Bible, and we should use them for our prayers whatever our situation may be because there is a psalm that suits our every need. Here are a few sentences from this wonderful letter:

‘Whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it, so that you do not merely hear and then pass on, but learn the way to remedy your ill. The Psalms show you how to set about repenting and with what words your penitence may be expressed. The Psalms not only exhort us to be thankful, they also provide us with fitting words to say. We are told, too, by other writers that all who would live godly in Christ must suffer persecution; and here again the Psalms supply words with which both those who flee persecution and those who suffer under it may suitably address themselves to God, and it does the same for those who have been rescued from it. We are bidden elsewhere in the Bible also to bless the Lord and to acknowledge Him: here in the Psalms we are shown the way to do it, and with what sort of words His majesty may meetly be confessed. In fact, under all the circumstances of life, we shall find that these divine songs suit ourselves and meet our own souls’ needs at every turn.'”

-Athanasius of Hippo, from the appendix to On the Incarnation titled “On the Interpretation of the Psalms,” quoted by Gordan Wenham in The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms (Crossway, 2013), p. 39

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