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Reflections on the Psalms

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  4,329 ratings  ·  450 reviews
Lewis writes here about the difficulties he has met or the joys he has gained in reading the Psalms. He points out that the Psalms are poems, intended to be sung, not doctrinal treatises or sermons. Proceeding with his characteristic grace, he guides readers through both the form and the meaning of these beloved passages in the Bible.
Paperback, 151 pages
Published October 7th 1964 by Harvest/HBJ Books (first published 1958)
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Douglas Wilson
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: commentary
Glorious, but awful in parts. Finished it again in 2016, and it is still the same. Lewis has an uncanny ability to edify me and appall me simultaneously.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lewis is often unfairly placed at the helm of Christian apologetics. In fact, if you hear two intelligent people debating the merits of Christianity, it will probably be only a matter of seconds before one of them is refrencing Lewis. Lewis apologetic works (Mere Christianity, Miracles) are attempts to rationalize his beliefs to himself and to any who will listen - they are not the authority on Christian theology and scholarship that they are made out to be (Lewis usually outlines his shortcomin ...more
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Some of my favorite things about this wonderful little book by my favorite author:

1. Right away, he takes on the difficult, hard-to-stomach psalms, the ones about such things as dashing the Babylonian babies against the stones. Hard stuff. I'm sure I would have avoided it.

2. This quote:
"But of course these conjectures as to why God does what He does are probably of no more value than my dog's ideas of what I am up to when I sit and read."

3. And this quote:
"What we see when we think we are looki
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c-s-lewis, faith, audio
C.S. Lewis begins this work by comparing it to two school boys studying together because they understand the same sort of questions that have long since ceased to puzzle--and in fact, become incomprehensible to--their schoolmaster.
The analogy works beautifully for this book.
I particularly enjoyed his analysis of how the Christian should approach portions of the Psalms where the psalmist proclaims his innocence and demands retribution. It seems to counter the very tenants of Christianity in som
David Sarkies
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to David by: My Dad
Shelves: christian
An English Professor's Thoughts on the Psalms
20 February 2014

I would have to say that the thing that I appreciated the most about this book was that Lewis opened it by saying that he was not writing this book as a theologian, since by his own admission he is not a theologian, but rather that he is writing this book as a normal person, and even in saying that he is suggesting that he is not the colossus of English literature that he actually is. The second point is that in writing he actually wr
Cindy Rollins
Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Not my favorite Lewis book. I am on a quest to read everything he wrote and this has been on my shelf for many years. My son read it years ago as a young teen and did not like it at all. Now I understand why. It still has all the lovely Lewis conversations but some of his reasoning on the Psalms seem to take away the mystery, if that were possible. The Psalms are my favorite book of the Bible and though Lewis is my favorite author his thoughts here did not make me love the Psalms more or less.
Julie Davis
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
5% Done UPDATE
I'm 5% done with Reflections on the Psalms: I never ever stopped to think before about the difference between judges in Old Testament times versus judges in our very modern times. We expect impartiality, no graft, and so forth. Our system is so different from the OT Jewish system that it is no wonder we need mental adjustment before comprehending why their view of God's judgment is so much more joyous than our own. Completely different POV. Fascinating.

25% Done UPDATE
I found myself
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation...”

“The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

Reflections on the Psalms was unlike any other C.S. Lewis book I’ve read - mostly because he rarely writes d
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love being in the mind of the great C.S. Lewis!
Jan 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Lewis the higher critic? Dare I say the heretic?? I kept hoping I would find one chapter in this book to embrace, but the entire volume turned out to be reflections of a C. S. Lewis I had not anticipated.

To his credit, Lewis introduces the book by stating that he is no scholar, no Hebraist, (he also says no higher critic, but that I take as a technicality since he certainly employs higher-critical reasoning throughout), but rather one unlearned writing for the unlearned. Of course the fact is t
Miss Clark
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those seeking to better understand and appreciate the Psalms
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Miller
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
First time I have read this. Lots to reflect upon here and many good insights. This will be re-read at a future date.
Joseph R.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book has a refreshing honesty and candor. Lewis immediately states that this writing is not scholarly, definitive, or all-encompassing. He writes as one simple Christian to another, seeking a better understanding by pondering problems he has discovered and sharing insights he has gained while reading the Psalms.

Lewis writes about a variety of topics in the Psalms that strike him as significant. First, he notes the difference in the Psalms's presentation of divine judgment and the Christian'
G.M. Burrow
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
Fantastic book with some truly dreadful moments. This is the only time I’ve known Lewis’s insight and logic to fail him so hard. His thoughts on the imprecatory psalms are hilariously (and uncharacteristically) bad. But that doesn’t perturb me. Jack loved disagreeing with his friends as much as he loved agreeing with them, so just cheerfully disagree with his gosh-awful exegesis in your mind, and be grateful for the rest.
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lewis finds a niche for himself in these essays on the Psalms. He is no Biblical expert, he says, but the commentaries of Biblical scholars often fail to consider the questions of the average reader of the Psalms, questions that Lewis himself has. So Lewis writes his own thoughts in hopes of "comparing notes" with other students like himself. Of course, as one goodreads reviewer has already pointed out, there are hardly other students like the brilliant Lewis.

How can someone who is a sinner hims
Oct 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Some chapters were really good most were just average.

The two chapters to be sure and read are:

"A Word about Praising"

This quote is worth the price of the book, however:

"I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise--lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, player praising
Amanda G. Stevens
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The thing I love most about this little book is the speculative nature of it, which Lewis owns from the first sentence: "This is not a work of scholarship." He's conjecturing based on his knowledge of ancient cultures and the context of the whole Bible. I'm not sure about some of his conclusions, but he isn't either. He asks questions such as, did the inspired writers always know what they penned was inspired? Do the psalmists ever sin with their words (cursing their enemies, etc) and if so, wha ...more
Ray LaManna
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-testament
This is not an exegesis of the's instead a spiritual reflection by a world-renowned author. While his writing is a bit stilted, his reflections made me think deeply about the psalms.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
There were parts of this that were so brilliant! C. S. Lewis has some great thoughts, and this book has helped me to understand a lot of things. There were also some things that were a little confusing, but I'm sure a second read would straighten everything out.
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Full of great insights, of course, but nothing hit me as being particularly awe-inspiring. I should stop reading Lewis books as audiobooks, I don't get as much out of them. One day I'll need to go back and review this.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dusty-shelf
Paradigm shift is a word I despise mostly because of its misuse in modern language. Though, that is exactly what happened to me with Psalms after I read the book. I finally saw them in their raw beauty. The anger, the rage, the love, it's all unmasked, not altered. Jewish poets were really something I must admit, and while reading the book it made me want to read the psalms more than the book. That's why I gave it 5 stars. This book actually encourages you to cope with the hard language and the ...more
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: c-s-lewis
A very good approach, I think. Understanding the problems, world, and issues of the writers of the Psalms is key to understanding a lot of the troublesome parts of the Book (and any book, really, is better understood by knowing the context in which it was written). Lewis' comments on allegory and prefiguration were also welcome, as modern critical theory seems to deny the ability of seeing things on multiple levels at once. More is required to have a full understanding the work (I'm sure Lewis w ...more
David Washington
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
In my quest of reading in historical/generational jaunts, I moved from the 21st century (The Case for the Real Jesus) to the mid-twentieth century with C.S. Lewis's Reflections On the Psalms. I've read Lewis's works of fiction and nonfiction which include Mere Christianity , The Pilgrim's Regress , and all of the Narnia Chronicles , so I'm familiar with his writing style.

I must say at the outset that this book is one of my least favorite books by Lewis. He is not in any way a theologian even
Crisan Paul
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
His thoughts on Psalms and the Bible, as literature are eyes opening!!

I gave only 3.5 stars because I found the romanian translation hard to follow sometimes.
Jeri Massi
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This book presents Lewis about as far as he gets from the Fundamentalist interpretation of the Scripture. Lewis treats the Psalms much as he would treat any ancient text: with great respect but without any sense that they are more than an ancient text of the writings and songs of devout people who worship God but worship Him in a certain amount of ignorance.

First of all, for readers coming out of Fundamentalism, this is still a great book, because Lewis definitely knows the Psalms that he is dis
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Much good in here, but some things that might, for instance, cause Jeeves to raise an eyebrow. The first chapters cause the most furrowing of the brow - Lewis' understanding of how Scripture came to be emphasizes too much the role of man in writing (and thus human error and caprice) and too little of the Holy Spirit's guidance (incidently, I think Reformed Christians sometimes make the opposite error - emphasizing the Holy Spirit to the exclusion of any human medium). I think Lewis always did be ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth' (Prov. 24:17)"

"Where we find a difficulty we may always expect that a discovery awaits us."

"The Law is 'undefiled', the Law gives light, it is clean and everlasting, it is 'sweet.' No one can improve on this and nothing can more fully admit us to the old Jewish feeling about the Law; luminous, severe, disinfectant, exultant."

"It leads into the larger question whether the great evil of our civil life is not
Jason Dark
Lewis is a master when it comes to connecting the Word and Truth to modern thinking via Apologetics and eloquently conducted word use. I wanted to see more of his uncanny thoughts on paper, moments where I see something in a new light and with better clarity, but I did not receive those sumptuous and invaluable moments with this book. In his review of Psalms, Lewis has a way of intelligently criticising both sides of an argument, and comparing Christianity with Paganism, Classical philosophy, an ...more
Ryan Hawkins
Would easily be a 5 star if it wasn’t for some unfortunate issues with his theology that spring up in many places. That being said, I don’t read Lewis for solid, Bible-based theology. This is not his strength. Instead, I read him for thoughts of gold. And in this work—as in most of his others—there were a handful. Moreover, I thought his various categories and thoughts on the psalms were at least overall interesting. Sometimes fascinating; sometimes poor, not well thought out, theology; sometime ...more
Matthew Richey
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
C. S. Lewis wrote about 60 years ago but I still feel as if he is an extremely important and relevant conversation partner for evangelicals. My annoyance is that I don't think evangelicals really read him except to confirm what they already believe. C. S. Lewis was not really an evangelical in the sense that most today use the term; certainly not a fundamentalist. That being said, I think he anticipates some of the fault lines (then future) and that we'd do well to listen to him on those areas t ...more
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Clive Staples Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge

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“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” 75 likes
“Lead us not into temptation' often means, among other things, 'Deny me those gratifying invitations, those highly interesting contacts, that participation in the brilliant movements of our age, which I so often, at such risk, desire.'
Reflections on the Psalms, ch 7
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