The Psalms are not merely God’s Word to us, they are God’s Word to God, God’s Word about God, God praising God. And that is why they are a reliable guide for our praise of God. “God has praised himself” in the Psalms, Augustine tells us, in order that “men and women [might] know how to praise him.”
The famous ABCOBARMA principle is “always be closing other books and reading more Augustine.” Okay, it’s not a famous principle. But it is good advice. And it’s the advice I’ve been following over the past several years.
This year I’m spending time in Augustine’s Expositions of the Psalms. From time to time, I hope to share observations, quotations, etc. from these theologically rich, spiritually wise sermons.
In his introduction to a sermon on Psalm 145 (Psalm 144 in the Vulgate), Augustine comments on the usefulness of the Psalms as a guide to Christian praise.
Augustine observes that Christians need a guide to praising God lest we “offend the one whom we praise.” Our praise tends toward excess verbosity (cf. Matt 6:7), or else to wander from the straight and narrow path. Thankfully, God has “marked out” a “path of praise” in the scriptures “in order to give human beings a pattern by which they can praise him in a seemly fashion.”
The Psalms have a special place in this regard.