The C. S. Lewis Bible: Reflections on Psalms

Praise Befits the Humble

But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.

— from Reflections on the Psalms

For Reflection: Psalm 33:1-22

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Taste and See

William Law remarks that people are merely “amusing themselves” by asking for the patience which a famine or a persecution would call for if, in the meantime, the weather and every other inconvenience sets them grumbling. One must learn to walk before one can run. So here. We — or at least I — shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.

At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have “tasted and seen.” Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience.

— from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

For Reflection: Psalm 34:8

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Noticing the Dirt

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc, doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be v. muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, & the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard.

The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the v. sign of His presence.

— from a letter to Mary Neylan, January 20, 1942

For Reflection: Psalm 40:1-3

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I Delight to Do Your Will

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, “Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.”

— from Mere Christianity

For Reflection: Psalm 40:6-8

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You Thought I Was One Just Like Yourself

I have often, on my knees, been shocked to find what sort of thoughts I have for a moment, been addressing to God; what infantile placations I was really offering, what claims I have really made, even what absurd adjustments or compromises I was, half-consciously, proposing. There is a Pagan, savage heart in me somewhere. For unfortunately the folly and idiot- cunning of Paganism seem to have far more power of surviving than its innocent or even beautiful elements. It is easy, once you have power, to silence the pipes, still the dances, disfigure the statues, and forget the stories; but not easy to kill the savage, the greedy, frightened creature now cringing, now blustering, in one’s soul— the creature to whom God may well say, “thou thoughtest I am even such a one as thyself” (Psalm 50.21).

— from Reflections on the Psalms

For Reflection: Psalm 50:19-23

Excerpted with permission from The C. S. Lewis Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

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Your Turn

The Book of Psalms is a wonderful book to read no matter what you’re going through. There’s praise, wisdom, thanksgiving, lament, and every kind of conversation with God in the Psalms. In this Bible, C. S. Lewis reflects on various passages in his own brilliant and thoughtful way. Come share your thoughts with us. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily



Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over one hundred million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.

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