Chapters 5 & 6
Chapters 5 & 6 E-mail

Reflections on the Psalms


Chapter 5 - "The Fair Beauty of the Lord"

1.  What differences did Lewis see between ancient Judaism and modern Christianity?  Where did Lewis find the same delight in God that made David dance?  (See 2 Samuel 6:14-23 for the account of David's dance.)

2.  What role did the Temple play in ancient Israel?  What role did the synagogue play?  How is a "parish church" the "descendant of both"?

3.  According to Lewis, the ancient Jews did not separate the Temple rites from the vision of God (i.e. "beholding the fair beauty of the Lord").  "Life was one."  What happens when the introduction of abstraction and analysis breaks down the old unity?  Consider Psalm 40:6-8; Hosea 6:6; 1 Samuel 15:22.

4.  What humorous example does Lewis give of "admirable poetry and admirable piety"?

5.  Read Psalm 50 (esp. verses 7-15).  What point does Lewis make about verse 12? 

6.  Which psalms express your delight and joy in God? 

Chapter 6 - "Sweeter than Honey"

7.  Read Psalm 19 (esp. verses 7-11.  Note: The psalm is reprinted in Appendix I of the book.)  How does the psalmist describe God's law?  What did Lewis find bewildering about this profuse delight over God's law?

8.  What potential dangers did Lewis see in "poring over the Law"?

9.  What are some unique features of Psalm 119?  How does it exemplify Lewis's comment: "The Order of the Divine mind, embodied in the Divine Law, is beautiful"?

10.  Summarize Lewis's thoughts on the Law as truth.  What lies at the heart of the Hebrew view that the Law is good?

11.  Why might pagan alternatives be attractive to the ancient Hebrews?  What is God's Law like in comparison to the pagan alternatives?  Is the contrast as strong today?


Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832):  Scottish novelist and poet known for Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverly.  The quoted phrase, spoken by an old woman, comes from Old Mortality.

Jean Racine (1636-1699):  French poet and playwright.  In 1691, he wrote Athalie which critics consider the perfect example of French classical tragedy, based on the story in 2 Kings 11 about Queen Athaliah (daughter of Ahab and Jezebel) who murdered the royal princes upon the death of her son King Ahaziah and assumed the throne herself.  This attempt to wipe out the Davidic line was foiled by her daughter Jehosheba, who hid one young prince, Joash, in the temple for six years.

© 2010 by Allyson Wieland