This image of the beginning of the Book of Psalms might not invoke love, lament, hope, and remorse, although these are the feelings that come to mind when one reflects on the life of King David, the author of these 150 compositions. Was David truly a man after God’s heart? The Psalms describe the desire of the human soul, longing for God. Simultaneously, they are a desperate cry of hope or lamentation. Looking at this image, one might have a sense of peace and calm rather than of desperation.
The gold ornamentation symbolizes the Israelites’ creating a deeper relationship with the Creator via the Psalms, and to show that it was through the line of David that Jesus came. The shades of reds and pink remind us of the of the love and mercy of God which is believers’ constant. The dark purple and violet bring to mind the times believers have fallen short, but also royalty. Just as Jesus was clothed in a purple cloak, mocked, and crucified, it was through this ordeal that he became able to clothe sinners in royalty, love and mercy.
As we reflect on this image Susan Sink reminds us
“The Psalms do not simply collect stories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Just as they did for the people gathered to sing them at the temple, they remind us of our history with God, the covenant and a call to follow God’s command today.” (The Art of The Saint John’s Bible, Vol 1. p. 38)
The Psalms were meant to be sung from the lips of a believer, to let one echo the Biblical voice through actions of mercy and compassion to those who desperately pray and cry out to God, who is always listening.
This commentary was contributed by James Gumataotao, a senior Theology major and a member of the Library’s Research Desk team.