Pastor’s Corner for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Br. Sechaba Liphoko

The Theology of the Psalms

Theology or how people think of God is shaped by their experience of God, in the concrete situations of their lives. In general, the Psalms speak of a God who is omnipotent and present in the lives of God’s people. This is the overarching theological theme of the psalms, because this was the experience of the Israelites.

The theology that is being expressed in the Psalms describes the relationship that Israel had with their God. In the Psalms ‘God is depicted as the creator of the universe and the source of all life, victoriously enthroned in heaven, yet dwelling in the city of Jerusalem’. It is clear that for Israel, God was always in their midst. God said to Moses ‘I shall take you as my people and I shall be your God. And you will know that I am Yahweh your God’. This covenantal reality was kept in the back of their minds, even though there were times when they became unfaithful towards God.

The Psalms depict God as powerful and omnipotent. In Psalm 29, which is the psalm of David, ‘the sons of God are summoned to transfer their allegiance to Yahweh, for it is He who is Lord of all creation, it is his voice, not that of Baal Hadad, which is heard in the thunder.’ It shows that Gods power cannot be compared with any other god.

In many psalms, we see that God is always there for His people, he is God who protects and fights for His people. For instance Psalm 3:1-2 and Psalm 4:2, psalmist tells us of the person who is facing his enemies and they are ready to devour him. What is interesting is that in the very same psalm the psalmist shows that, for God to save him, there must be an element of trust and faith in God. We see this when the psalmist says, ‘but you, Yahweh the shield at my side, my glory, you hold my head high. I cry out to Yahweh; he answers from his holy mountain’ (Ps 3:3-4). Similarly in Psalm 18:3, ‘I call to Yahweh who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.’ This shows that when a person cries for help, he thinks of God because God can be trusted.

Here are some question for us to reflect on: if you were to write a psalm with your life, what would the dominant theme be? What experiences and images would you incorporate into your psalm?

Br. Sechaba Liphoko