Who do you go to plumb the depths of the Psalms? A linguist? A theologian? A preacher? A musician? Well, maybe all of them. Each might have a different insight.
And what kind of insight might Bono have? Yes, the lead singer of U2. Several years ago I came across Bono’s introduction to a small paperback that contained selections from the Psalms. His musings captured my attention. You can find the entire introduction at –
And for a taste of what he wrote,
“Explaining belief has always been difficult…. Explaining faith is impossible: vision over visibility; instinct over intellect. A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head.
“One of the writers of the psalms was a musician, a harp-player …. At the age of 12, I was a fan of David. He felt familiar, like a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious, and he was a star. Before David could fulfill the prophecy and become the king of Israel, he had to take quite a beating. He was forced into exile and ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting. This is where David was said to have composed his first psalm — a blues. That’s what a lot of the psalms feel like to me, the blues. Man shouting at God — “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me?” (Psalm 22).
“Abandonment and displacement are the stuff of my favourite psalms. The Psalter may be a font of gospel music, but for me it’s despair that the psalmist really reveals and the nature of his special relationship with God. Honesty, even to the point of anger. “How long, Lord? Wilt thou hide thyself forever?” (Psalm 89), or “Answer me when I call” (Psalm 5).
“Words and music did for me what solid, even rigorous, religious argument could never do — they introduced me to God, not belief in God, more an experiential sense of GOD. Over art, literature, girls, my mates, the way in to my spirit was a combination of words and music. As a result, the Book of Psalms always felt open to me and led me to the poetry of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the book of John…My religion could not be fiction, but it had to transcend facts. It could be mystical, but not mythical.”
What in Bono’s musings capture your attention today?