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Reflections on the Psalms Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis
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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.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“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
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“Because, as we know, almost anything can be read into any book if you are determined enough. This will be especially impressed on anyone who has written fantastic fiction. He will find reviewers, both favourable and hostile, reading into his stories all manner of allegorical meanings which he never intended. (Some of the allegories thus imposed on my own books have been so ingenious and interesting that I often wish I had thought of them myself.)”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“When we carry out our "religious duties" we are like people digging channels in a waterless land, in order that when at last water comes, it may find them ready.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“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.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all created beings the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“I cannot be the only reader who has wondered why God, having given him [St. Paul] so many gifts, withheld from him (what would seem so necessary for the first Christian theologian) that of lucidity and orderly exposition.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“The tuning up of an orchestra can be itself delightful, but only to those who can in some measure, however little, anticipate the symphony.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“For the entrance is low: we must stoop till we are no taller than children to get in.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least. The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read. The healthy and unaffected man, even if luxuriously brought up and widely experienced in good cookery, could praise a very modest meal: the dyspeptic and the snob found fault with all. Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“But we must not be Pharisaical even to the Pharisees.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“The Order of the Divine mind, embodied in the Divine Law, is beautiful. What should a man do but try to reproduce it, so far as possible, in his daily life?”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“As someone has said "gods" is not really the plural of God; God has no plural.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
tags: god, gods
“I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“For the Supernatural, entering a human soul, opens to it new possibilities both of good and evil. From that point the road branches: one way to sanctity, love humility, the other to spiritual pride, self-righteousness, persecuting zeal. And no way back to the mere humdrum virtues and vices of the unawakened soul.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“It seems that there is a general rule in the moral universe which may be formulated, 'The higher, the more in danger'. The 'average sensual man' who is sometimes unfaithful to his wife, sometimes tipsy, always a little selfish, now and then (within the law) a trifle sharp in his deals, is certainly, by ordinary standards, a 'lower' type than the man whose soul is filled with some great Cause, to which he will subordinate his appetites, his fortune, and even his safety. But it is out of the second man that something really fiendish can be made; an Inquisitor, a Member of the Committee of Public Safety. It is great men, potential saints, not little men, who become merciless fanatics. Those who are readiest to die for a cause may easily become those who are readiest to kill for it. ...For the supernatural, entering a human soul, opens to it new possibilities of both good and evil. From that point the road branches: one way to sanctity, love, humility, the other to spiritual pride, self-righteousness, persecuting zeal. And no way back to the mere humdrum virtues and vices of the un-awakened soul. If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse. Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all created beings, the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God. There seems no way out of this. It gives a new application to Our Lord's words about 'counting the cost'.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“We may observe that the teaching of Our Lord Himself, in which there is no imperfection, is not given us in that cut-and-dried, fool-proof, systematic fashion we might have expected or desired. He wrote no book. We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context. And when we have collected them all we cannot reduce them to a system. He preaches but He does not lecture. He uses paradox, proverb, exaggeration, parable, irony; even (I mean no irreverence) the 'wisecrack'. He utters maxims which, like popular proverbs, if rigorously taken, may seem to contradict one another. His teaching therefore cannot be grasped by the intellect alone, cannot be 'got up' as if it were a 'subject'. If we try to do that with it, we shall find Him the most elusive of teachers. He hardly ever gave a straight answer to a straight question. He will not be, in the way we want, 'pinned down'. The attempt is (again, I mean no irreverence) like trying to bottle a sunbeam.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“What seems strained - a mere triumph of perverse ingenuity - to one age, seems plain and obvious to another, so that our ancestors would often wonder how we could possibly miss what we wonder how they could have been silly-clever enough to find. And between different ages there is not impartial judge on earth, for no one stands outside the historical process; and of course on one is so completely enslaved to it as those who take our own age to be, not one more period, but a final and permanent platform from which we can see all other ages objectively.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“But this is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated, the Judaic ethics, how very seldom He introduced a novelty...The Light which has lightened every man from the beginning may shine more clearly but cannot change. The Origin cannot suddenly start being, in the popular sense of the word, "original".”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, praised most, while the crank, misfits and malcontents praised least.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“find an experience fully God-centred, asking of God no gift more urgently than His presence, the gift of Himself, joyous to the highest degree, and unmistakably real. What I see (so to speak) in the faces of these old poets tells me more about the God whom they and we adore.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“Take from a man his freedom or his goods and you may have taken his innocence, almost his humanity, as well.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“There is almost no "letter" in the words of Jesus. Taken by a literalist, He will always prove the most illusive of teachers. Systems cannot keep up with that darting illumination. No net less wide than a man's whole heart, nor less fine of mesh than love, will hold the sacred fish.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“during a night journey taken early in the Second War in a compartment full of young soldiers. Their conversation made it clear that they totally disbelieved all that they had read in the papers about the wholesale cruelties of the Nazi régime. They took it for granted, without argument, that this was all lies, all propaganda put out by our own government to “pep up” our troops. And the shattering thing was, that, believing this, they expressed not the slightest anger. That our rulers should falsely attribute the worst of crimes to some of their fellow-men in order to induce others of their fellow-men to shed their blood seemed to them a matter of course. They weren’t even particularly interested.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“He is that Object to admire which (or, if you like, to appreciate which) is simply to be awake, to have entered the real world; not to appreciate which is to have lost the greatest experience, and in the end to have lost all.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“The imperfect, yet very venerable, goodness of Socrates led to the easy death of the hemlock, and the perfect goodness of Christ led to the death of the cross, not by chance but for the same reason; because goodness is what it is, and because the fallen world is what it is. If Plato, starting from one example and from his insight into the nature of goodness and the nature of the world, was led on to see the possibility of a perfect example, and thus to depict something extremely like the Passion of Christ, this happened not because he was lucky but because he was wise.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“God has given to His works His own character of emeth; they are watertight, faithful, reliable, not at all vague or phantasmal.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
“It may be indispensable that Our Lord's teaching, by that elusiveness (to our systematising intellect), should demand a response from the whole man, should make it so clear that there is no question of learning a subject but of steeping ourselves in a Personality, acquiring a new outlook and temper, breathing a new atmosphere, suffering Him, in His own way, to rebuild in us the defaced image of Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

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