The Spirituality of the Psalms: Walter Brueggemann



When we pray these Psalms, in community or in private we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who count on our prayers.  Those witnesses include first of all the of the Israelites who cried out against Pharaoh and other oppressors.  But the cloud of witnesses includes all those who hope for justice and liberation.  This does not detract from the conviction that God is powerful Spirit.  It does not reduce the Psalms to political documents.  It rather insists that our spirituality must answer to the God who is present where the questions of justice and order, transformation and equilibrium are paramount.  We dare not be positivists about our spirituality, as though we live in a world in which all issues are settled.  The spirituality of the Psalms assumes that the world is called to question in this conversation with God.  That permits and requires that our conversation with God be vigorous, candid, and daring. 

Walter Brueggemann, “Spirituality of the Psalms”  74.

Psalms are messy.

Life is messy.

Sometimes we are offered a spirituality that does not do well with the messiness of life.  It glosses over the dirty and serves up heart warming clichés on a silver platter.  What this kind of spirituality does not leave room for is the human experience. 

The Psalms are loaded with questions, wonderings, challenges, and pain.  They are jam packed with the human experience that dares to explore with a candid vigour a conversation with God about real life and faith. 

Read a Psalm.  Pray through a Psalm and participate with ‘the cloud of witnesses’ in a messy spirituality. 

Have you read a Psalm today?


  1. Gareth B · September 21, 2012

    Great book! I use Brueggemann in my Psalms class.

    • Chris Lenshyn · September 24, 2012

      I used this book in my Psalms class at Canadian Mennonite University.

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