An Open Letter to the Psalmists

Tales from the Unending Story

October 19, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 21
Joshua Penfold |

Dear Psalmists,

Sometimes I delight in your comforting words of
God’s grace and compassion.
You paint an alluring and alleviating picture
of a loving, caring and ever-present shepherding
God who loves us and knows us.

Sometimes I am assured by your confident words
of God’s power, protection and steadfastness.
You’ve built a strong case for a mighty and
capable King whose kingdom offers security and shelter.

Sometimes I’m confused by your peculiar words of a
God that I don’t understand.
You proclaim notions of a harsh, petty and aloof
God that to me seem inconsistent and unreliable.

Sometimes I resist your troubling words of a wrathful God I don’t recognize.
You crave and call for a vindictive, judgmental, violent and vengeful God, who looks nothing like the God you speak of elsewhere.

Sometimes, I’m scared of your gory God.
You condemn, curse and call for bloodshed against your enemies, even desiring unimaginably heinous acts done to innocent children.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the challenge of holding all of your pictures, praises, curses, proclamations, declarations, laments, moans, groans, pleas, shouts, songs, prayers and gut-wrenching emotions.
You’ve exposed your deepest selves, both beauty and blemish. You’ve showed me that it is all holy, it all has a place, it all reveals God to us in some way.

Sometimes it’s too much.
Sometimes I can’t get enough.
Sometimes it is exactly what I need.

Joshua Penfold lives in New Hamburg, Ontario, and can be reached at

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