When I was younger, more rash, more hot-headed, more impudent, I considered the book of Psalms inferior to some of the other scriptures. “It’s just a bunch of feel-good poems,” I would complain, and would instead delve into some extracurricular Isaiah speculation. I’m an apologist, I would say, puffing my chest out in pride. I’m a theologian. I don’t need this sissy poetry stuff.
How wrong I was.
Lately, my wife and I have taken to reciting psalms before bed and in place of the usual traditional singing we both experienced in our respective family home evening meetings. For one, we don’t really feel comfortable singing together (we feel kind of dumb), and two, the longer we’ve been Mormons, the more comfort we find in a lovely book such as Psalms.
For example, an interesting footnote during Christ’s crucifixion ties his famous utterance, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” to Psalm 22. Specifically, it starts out:
My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.
Be not far from me: for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
This isn’t feel-good wishy-washy stuff. This is some serious religious existential angst. Why Jesus chose to cry out in psalm during His darkest hour I do not know, but for even the Savior to have felt like this, a feeling I can certainly relate to, makes me love Him all the more.