Mood swings

Here's this week's "Opening the Bible" blog entry for i.ucc.org. Want to join the conversation?

I really do love the psalms. They express such raw emotions and deep, contemplative thought from people who struggled to serve God, understand God, and to love God.

And so often the emotions are angry, sad and confused:
  • (Psalm 40:17 NRSV) As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.
  • (Psalm 109:22-23 NRSV) For I am poor and needy, and my heart is pierced within me. {23} I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.
Sometimes the emotions are hopeful:
  • (Psalm 9:18 NLT) For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.
  • (Psalm 22:26 NRSV) The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever!
  • (Psalm 74:21 NRSV) Do not let the downtrodden be put to shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.

And, at least once in awhile, the emotions are happy – celebratory (That’s a fun word to day – celebratory!)
  • (Psalm 63:5 NRSV) My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips.
  • (Psalm 96:11-12 NRSV) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; {12} let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
  • (Psalm 122:1 NRSV) I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"

Psalm 145 is one of those celebratory Psalms. This week our Bible reading is Psalm 145:1-5 and 17-21:
  • I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
  • Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.
  • Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
  • One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
  • On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
  • The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
  • He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them.
  • The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
  • My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.


Praise and adoration. Good feelings – and then that “destroys the wicked” part ruins the jubilation – at least for me.

The psalmists had real, raw emotions – poured out poetically. They reflect the mood swings of a people trying to “get it.” As we try to get it – sometimes we are angry. Sometimes we are hopeful. Sometimes we just want to celebrate.

Why do we seek destruction, too?

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