The Psalms: A Gymnasium for the Soul

Two great resources from the early church that explores the psalms as a place to “exercise” our spiritual lives with God.

Union University spent a year exploring the Psalms in their chapels with a Calvin Grant Funded project.  The result of many of those talks is a new book on the Psalms for Worship.  You can pre-order below.

Listen to John Witvliets talk “Psalms: A Gymnasium for the Soul.”  This idea is taken from the writings of many early church fathers but is a specific quote from Ambrose on the psalms.

In the Book of Psalms there is profit for all, with healing power for our salvation. There is instruction from history, teaching from the law, prediction from prophecy, chastisement from denunciation, persuasion from moral preaching. All who read it may find the cure for their own individual failings. All with eyes to see can discover in it a complete *gymnasium for the soul, a stadium for all the virtues, equipped for every kind of exercise; it is for each to choose the kind he judges best to help him gain the prize (Commentary an Psalm 1:4,8)

(*The gymnasium in ancient Rome and Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits.)

1. Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship.

You can find a list of the chapters and a bit more about the book here.

2. Reggie Kidd, “Athanasius, The Psalms and Making the Right Play (Worship Leader Magazine).

Reggie has a good article in last months magazine about how the psalms can help us fend off heresies in regards to rightly perceiving Christ and his divinity, his humanity, his integrity, and his dignity.

You can read the letter by Athanasius that Reggie draws from here:

Athanasius, “The Letter of Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms.”

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