OWAAT October 15: Even a King Cries Out to God: Scriptural Imagination in the Psalms

We continue on this week in Book 2 of the Psalms. While the authorship of all the Psalms are traditionally attributed to David, the Davidic voice speaking in Psalms 51-57 is all the more apparent, as David cries out to God in the midst of a variety of disturbing life circumstances (the details on which we can read more in the 1st and 2nd books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles). Biblically speaking we tend to understand David as a great king in the OT – so great in our theological understanding and imaginations that we may forget he was plagued by a great many of the same things that plague all of us, including leadership. In this I take heart – because if someone of that magnitude had so many issues, and could rely on and be forgiven by God, then surely so can I.

I also remain in perpetual hope that the many current legislative leaders of our country who profess strong Christian faith regularly pray – particularly, for humility and openness to learning, and to listen to the biblical prophets when it comes to learning about what Godly governance looks like. If any need ideas on this, I would invite them to read anything by Jim Wallis, including: “Truth That Bears Repeating: A Budget Is a Moral Document,” God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Living God’s Politics: A Guide to Putting Your Faith Into Action, On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good, and a book that I am horrified to find that we need so mightily in the year 2017: Waging Peace: A Handbook for the Struggle to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.


Daily Bible readings:

October 15 Psalm 51
October 16 Psalm 52
October 17 Psalm 53
October 18 Psalm 54
October 19 Psalm 55
October 20 Psalm 56
October 21 Psalm 57

Frederick Gaiser encourages us in “The David of Psalm 51: Reading Psalm 51 in Light of Psalm 50” to begin this week’s readings considering Psalm 50, our last reading from last week: “With clear thematic and literary connections, Ps 50 sets up Ps 51, providing the accusation and call to repentance that produce the confession of David and Israel in Ps 51. Reading Ps 51 in the light of Ps 50 enhances its meaning for us, calling us to task for our failures and our attempts to manipulate God to our advantage while announcing the steadfast love of God that promises genuine renewal.”

Gaiser, Frederick J. “The David of Psalm 51: Reading Psalm 51 in Light of Psalm 50.” Word and World 23.4 (2003): 382–394. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/23-4_David/23-4_Gaiser.pdf.


As we continue our Lectio Divina practice throughout this month, here are a couple more resources for us to consider on this journey:

Now that we have the basics of Lectio Divina down (see last week’s articles if you need a refresher), we can pause for a moment to consider the point of praying the scriptures in this and other ways, particularly regarding the effects of prayerful, creative scripture reading. Laura Thelander provides us with some inspiration in “Speaker, Word, Breath: A Scriptural View of Christian Formation“: “Scriptural imagination is not a skill set we can possess. Rather, the scriptural shape of our life entails being in the world in a way that evidences a lifelong process of transformation by the power of Holy Scripture. This way of envisioning the world shapes our discernment of how we are to engage and be in the world.”

Thelander, Laura J. “Speaker, Word, Breath: A Scriptural View of Christian Formation.” Word & World 34.3 (2014): 285–93. https://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/34-3_Igniting_Bib_Imagination/34-3_Thelander.pdf.
Christine Valters Paintner and Lucy Wynkoop in “Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness offers a unique prayer resource that provides a thorough grounding in the different moments of the lectio experience: listening, reading, savoring, responding, and then contemplating God’s Word. It will act as a guide for those who have a desire to pray more deeply into this ancient practice and invites readers into a spirituality that encompasses a way of being with God and the whole of life. Lectio Divina, grounded in Benedictine tradition, provides an accessible approach to praying with scripture as well as several concrete and creative ways of praying lectio with different ‘texts’ such as poetry, icons, and movies. The book also explores ways of bringing lectio into scripture study and integrating lectio into busy lives. It concludes by offering the reader an exploration of the transformational value of lectio divina and a way of using lectio to pray with life experience.” (Publisher description.)
Paintner, Christine Valters, and Lucy Wynkoop. Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness. New York: Paulist Press, 2008.


Thelander notes, “In the light of God’s ‘ongoing work in the world’ through the Holy Spirit, we are called to ‘ongoing discernment’ to pay attention and tune in to what God is doing in the world. Under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, as we read and listen to scripture both in community and in individual prayer, we undergo the critical process of discernment so that our lives may be ordered in accordance with God’s desire for us: namely, to love God and love and serve the neighbor.” (p. 293)

How will you live out your love for God and serve your neighbor this week? If you’re not sure, here are some ideas:

Check the Think! Pray! Act! calendar for actions.

Find your local faith- or congregation-based community organizing network/organization and participate in their work and actions.

What’s going on in your faith life? Let us know in the comments.

“Lectio Divina – Personal Reading.” Street Psalms, June 26, 2014. http://www.streetpsalms.org/lectio-divina-personal-reading/.

Wallis, Jim. God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It. 1st ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005.

———. On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good. Grand Rapids, Mich: Brazos Press, 2013.

_______. “Truth That Bears Repeating: A Budget Is a Moral Document.” Sojourners, March 30, 2017. https://sojo.net/articles/truth-bears-repeating-budget-moral-document.

———, ed. Waging Peace: A Handbook for the Struggle to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982.

Wallis, Jim, Charles E. Gutenson, and Jim Wallis. Living God’s Politics: A Guide to Putting Your Faith into Action. First edition. San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso, 2006.