There have been many devotionals and commentaries written on the Psalms, so why pen more? Is there not already enough written on each psalm? Have not the depths of meaning and shades of nuance within each psalm been exhausted? Is it possible to offer something new to our understanding of the Psalms?
These questions and many more block my thoughts and still my pen making me inclined to stop writing. Rather, I am inclined to open books and read what the giants of the past have said. Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, Calvin, Bridges, Olsen, Keil-Delitzsche, Barnes, Gill, and many others sit behind me silently beckoning for their pages to be opened. I often look at them and wonder who I am to think I have anything new to offer. Surely every great thought worth having has already been contemplated and most likely written by one of these giants of the past. So, why pen another word?
For some reason, however, I am still here, writing. Somewhere deep down I have a sense that not everything worth saying has already been said, nor every thought already been pondered. I think — and maybe this is arrogance, I honestly don’t know — I think that I might have something to contribute. In fact, I think we all might have something to contribute.
Beth Tanner, writing in her introduction to the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) book on the Psalms, said “all biblical commentary is conversation; you are invited to add your voices.”
These words tell me two things: first, only the Word of God is inspired, and second, anything from the pen of man isn’t. The giants of the past whose works sit silently on the shelves behind me are travelers, just like me, who have already moved through their life trying to understand the Word of God. And while their voices should be heard because they come from a close walk with God, great intelligence, and meticulous scholarship, that doesn’t invalidate the voices and words from the present. It doesn’t invalidate my own. I can contribute to the conversation.
Unless I am wrong, (which I most certainly could be), I think the desire to contribute is universal. We all want to know that we have said or done something to contribute to the conversation. We want to know we have been helpful to those in our time and possibly to those who come after us. Walt Whitman, another voice from the past, address this desire in his poem O Me! O Life!
O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring, What good amid these, O me, O life?
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
I am not an inspired writer, at least not in the Biblical sense, none of us are. I am not a giant of the past, nor am I an aspiring giant of the present, only time reveals those. But I am like you, a fellow traveler wishing to contribute a verse. And if our verses become helpful to others, that is all that we can ever ask.
Thus, as you read these meditations on the Psalms, and possibly even the poems I have written on the Psalms found in my book A New Song, it is my hope that you are drawn to the Word of God. It is my hope that you would see God’s loving-kindness in a new way. It is my hope that you will contribute a verse. And it is my hope that you will share your verse with others.