The Concordia Publishing House Podcast

Poetry of the Psalms with Tim Saleska

August 05, 2020 Concordia Publishing House Season 1 Episode 11
The Concordia Publishing House Podcast
Poetry of the Psalms with Tim Saleska
Chapters
The Concordia Publishing House Podcast
Poetry of the Psalms with Tim Saleska
Aug 05, 2020 Season 1 Episode 11
Concordia Publishing House

The Psalms are filled with emotion, beauty, and wisdom. How does understanding the poetry of the psalms enhance our understanding of the Book of the Bible? How does it help us to slow down in our personal devotion time, letting us be shaped by the Scripture? Joining us today to talk about the beauty of the Psalms is Dr. Tim Saleska.

Tim is an Old Testament scholar, dean of Ministerial Formation at Concordia Seminary, and author of the new Concordia Commentary, Psalms 1-50. When he isn’t teaching or writing, you might find him on the sidelines coaching Preacher Basketball.

Show Notes Transcript

The Psalms are filled with emotion, beauty, and wisdom. How does understanding the poetry of the psalms enhance our understanding of the Book of the Bible? How does it help us to slow down in our personal devotion time, letting us be shaped by the Scripture? Joining us today to talk about the beauty of the Psalms is Dr. Tim Saleska.

Tim is an Old Testament scholar, dean of Ministerial Formation at Concordia Seminary, and author of the new Concordia Commentary, Psalms 1-50. When he isn’t teaching or writing, you might find him on the sidelines coaching Preacher Basketball.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Welcome to the Concordia Publishing House podcast, where we consider everything in the light of Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I'm your host, Elizabeth Pittman. The Psalms are filled with emotion, beauty, and wisdom. How does understanding the poetry of the Psalms enhance our understanding of this book of the Bible? How does it help us to slow down in our personal devotion time, letting us be shaped by the scripture? Joining us today to talk about the beauty of the Psalms is Dr. Tim Saleska. Tim is an Old Testament scholar, Dean of Ministerial Formation at Concordia Seminary and author of the New Concordia Commentary Psalms one through 50. When he isn't teaching or writing, you might just find him on the sidelines coaching Preacher basketball. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Saleska:

Hey, thanks, Elizabeth. It's great to be here.

Elizabeth Pittman:

How are you doing? I'm hanging in there.

Tim Saleska:

How about you?

Elizabeth Pittman:

We're doing all right. It looks like you've got a pretty nice setup there up north.

Tim Saleska:

Yeah. It's been beautiful at my in-laws' cabin. The one smart thing I did in my life was to marry up and I always advise students if you're not very smart, if you're mediocre, at least marry up because that gets you a long way. [crosstalk 00:01:23] that too. And so I'm always appreciative of this place and what it allows for us to do in the summer and getting family together. It's really a blessing.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Oh, it's a great thing. I think my husband's brother told him when we got married that he was now swimming in the deep end of the pool.

Tim Saleska:

That's right. Exactly right.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Oh, well it looks beautiful where you're at. It looks like the weather's a lot nicer than it is here in St. Louis, which I'm sure you're anxious to get back to the humidity.

Tim Saleska:

I love the Cardinals, so that'll be no problem. I'm ready.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well, we're glad you're here with us today and I've got to say in your new commentary, you packed so much wisdom and contents into the book. I know scholars and pastors are going to really appreciate what you did on the scholarly side. But what I appreciated as a lay person who doesn't know Greek and doesn't know the Hebrew that you really made it very readable for the average person. And as I've been flipping through it, there's so much content that is very devotional. There's a wonderful primer on how to read poetry. Being an English major in college. I did a lot of literature, but poetry was never really one of my favorites, but you made it kind of make sense, which I appreciated. What led you to lay out the commentary the way that you did?

Tim Saleska:

Ooh, that's a very good question. And I actually worked really hard. I mean, even before I started writing the commentary, I basically started from ground zero with my knowledge of poetry and my appreciation of poetry. I read a lot of other commentaries on the Psalms and was never satisfied with them. So I spent a lot of years learning how to read poetry. And in order to do that, I read what other authors of poetry said, why they love poetry, why they thought it was important, how other readers of poetry saw its beauty and the meaning they found in it, how also kind of literary critics would examine poetry and from a very kind of deep perspective and understanding of it. So I spent a number of years trying to cultivate my own appreciation of kind of poetry in general. I'm still far from so many other people, still a lot of it I don't get, but it really helped me with my approach to the Psalms.

Tim Saleska:

One of the things that I wanted to be sure to do in this commentary was bring a voice and a perspective that you don't see in any other commentaries. And I think that I did that on a number of different levels. As you said, there's a lot of stuff in there for the scholar who loves Hebrew and Greek. I'm one of those geeks. And so the textual notes offer that, but I tried to be extremely intentional on making large parts of the commentary accessible to lay persons so that people who love poetry and loved the Psalms and love to pray the Psalms can find benefits. And that's part of the reason that's the big reason I laid out the commentary the way I did and the reason why I worked so hard on lowering the amount of jargon I use and try to communicate in accessible language. And I'm very happy that you're kind of being able to connect with it as a person who loves literature. That opinion actually really means a lot to me. So thank you for that.

Elizabeth Pittman:

It's been so neat to read because not only does it help explain the nuts and bolts of the text, but boy, it takes you to a devotional place so quickly that it's beautiful.

Tim Saleska:

Yeah. No, thank you very much. When someone who looks at the commentary will see under every psalm, if you're doing Psalm three, for example, the reading after the translation. So it's laid out like this, translation, as you know, which was my own original translation with, again, I had to do a lot of editing on that with the help of the CPH editors and suggestions, which was really helpful, then the textual notes, Hebrew, Greek, the nuts and bolts of that part of the language and, which there's large parts in that that are accessible to people too once you get past kind of the Hebrew there's, I try to put interpretive comments and reflections that were very important. So even if you don't know Hebrew don't necessarily skip right over those parts, but just take what you can. But then the Reading the Psalms part one and two were meant for pastors, teachers and then lay persons.

Tim Saleska:

So Reading the Psalm part one goes through the psalm itself and answers questions such as what is this voice in this particular passage doing? How am I understanding him? How does the psalm cohere? And then part two, which builds on that as you know, is the purely much more devotional reading the psalm from the perspective of a New Testament Christian and in light of Christ and trying to bridge the gap specifically between us and the voices in the Psalms so that people can meditate on the psalm. And a lot of people have told me, actually, it's very, very great to hear that they're reading that section for evening devotions after supper or something like that. And so that's really great. That's really actually what I wanted. And it's nice to hear that I'm at least partially successful in that.

Elizabeth Pittman:

I think more than partially, but what does it mean for a reader to meditate on the Psalms?

Tim Saleska:

Again, that's a good question because meditation is this empty abstraction, right? And how do you fill it? Part of the issue when I started writing the commentary was just that question. What does it mean to meditate? And the reason is because when I read the Psalms, I always heard the advice. They're great Psalms. They're great texts to meditate on, but when I started to read them, I tried to figure out, "Okay, what does it mean to meditate?" People say, "Well, just read the psalm 10 times over." And I try to do that. It's so unsatisfying, I never progressed. It was like, "Why am I reading this five times in a row? I still don't get it." And so I think meditation involves bridging the gap between you and the psalm and the very concrete practice that I engage in is this twofold, not only reading the psalm and asking questions, like what is the psalm doing here? What is the voice? Is the voice praising God?Is he thanking God? Is he angry at God? Is he speaking about his pains? Is he rejoicing?

Tim Saleska:

Every voice, every reader, every speaker, we have certain things we do when we speak. So you have to ask yourself that question. And I went kind of phrase by phrase, verse by verse through the psalm. That's the first part and so it makes you slow down your reading just to the psalm on that level. Then the second part was actually reading myself. What am I doing as I'm interpreting the psalm? Am I identifying with the voice or am I not? Am I confused? Am I trying to reach a conclusion? Am I praising God? So it's always that kind of twofold thing and that's why the metaphor that I often use for meditating on the Psalms is having a conversation with it. When we converse with someone else, there's this inner voice that we're actually keeping better track of when we're talking to someone and that inner voice is continually monitoring our conversation.

Tim Saleska:

So if someone says something to me, I'm thinking, Do I agree with that statement? Do I disagree? If I disagree, how do I respond? If I agree, how do I respond? Boy, I really resonate with what the speaker is saying. Boy, I'm confused." We have that inner voice always going on. And sometimes we forget that in our scripture reading to access that, and that, again, slows us down, number one. Number two, it gets us not only on the cognitive level of reading a psalm, but on the affective and relational level. So think of meditating on the psalm as having a conversation with someone. Slow down, understand that it may take you in many directions, understand that you may have a lot of questions and that it's a much more messy process. So rather than trying to tie up everything in a neat little bundle and say, "Okay, I've conquered this psalm. Or I got all the cognitive doctrinal truth nuggets out of it that I need to get," you take it as this enriching conversation.

Tim Saleska:

And so in my classes, oh man, we really slowed down. A lot of things that students have said is it's so nice to be able to just slow down and really think through a text and the Psalms are perfect for that because you can take kind of shorter psalms and accomplish that in kind of a reasonable space. So yeah.

Elizabeth Pittman:

I think slowing down with the Psalms is so important. I know I have a tendency to, I want to rush on ahead. If I'm reading something, I'm usually in a hurry, let me get to the climax of the story or what's the main point. And so I know I can be challenged with the Psalms to slow down. If we step back and look at the Psalms, not only as scripture, but as a poem, can that help us to slow down as we're reflecting on what we're reading and some of the nuances of poetry help us better understand what we might be seeing?

Tim Saleska:

Yes, yes. So your experience is a problem for all of us in modern culture. This tendency to have to hurry, to think about reading a psalm as this task to complete. I tell students this all the time that as pastors they're busy. And so we tend to read scripture, "Okay, I got to preach on this text. So I got to find something in it for so and so. I know this passage will fit For Fred who sits in the third pew and is always given me a hard time" or something like that. So we read it for other people. And we rush, "I got to teach, I got to preach. I got these calls to make." And students really begin to appreciate because I try to model it in the class of slowing down because I have to learn it myself. You can even tell by the way I talk, I'm just kind of a fast. And so it is kind of a spiritual exercise to slow down over each phrase. And so appreciating the poetry is one way to do it.

Tim Saleska:

And so I started at a basic level with images like metaphor. For example, when you say "The Lord is my shepherd," you have to stop. I always stop and ask my students what connections in your mind are you making between the Lord and shepherd? And then I asked them to connect that metaphor to the larger story because David didn't pick it arbitrarily. The image already appears in Genesis 49. It's one of the major metaphors that you'll see in Psalm 78 and Psalm 80, I think, and for God leading his people out of Egypt. In Ezekiel, of course, you have that beautiful passage in Ezekiel in which he castigates the other leaders of Israel for being terrible shepherds and scattering the sheep. Then he says, "I'm the shepherd. I'm going to bring you back." So it connects to the larger story. So we have that conversation. So very often we think that metaphor and go, "Oh, well I've never seen any sheep. I've never seen shepherds, but I know that sheep are dumb and shepherds are this and that."

Tim Saleska:

So it's a very facile look at the metaphor. So when we get to the New Testament and Jesus says, "I'm the good shepherd. I give my life," he's not using that metaphor simply because in first century Judea, there was a lot of shepherds and sheep. He's using it to make this claim about who he is in relation to Israel. And so notice a very common metaphor like that can become refreshed when you stop to reflect on what you were doing, where it plays a part in the rest of scripture, and also even the experience of hearing it in your life. Okay? Because we usually hear it in times of distress when God seems to have left us. So we're making this claim. Why do we do that, you see? And I also look at that metaphor in contrast or comparison to others. So what picture of God is the Lord is my shepherd giving us in contrast to the Lord is my rock or God is a warrior or a God is a place of refuge?

Tim Saleska:

The Psalms are filled with different metaphors. You shouldn't melt them all together because they're giving us different insights into our relationship with God. Then the other thing I do in something like this is go, "How close are you actually relating to that truth? Do you actually live this way? What would it be if you actually lived your life as if the Lord is your shepherd? Do you live your life that way? Or as most modern people, we like to think we're in control." And the the commentary, you see me do this. I have another poem by someone who makes the claim that he's the captain of his own soul and read it in contrast. That way of life is followed by a lot of people and a lot of Christians. We may say the Lord is our shepherd, but we don't live that way. And so you see how in just this little explanation, this whole kind of conversation can begin to happen around one phrase of the psalm and the joy of reading and discussing and talking about the Psalms is in that conversation for me.

Tim Saleska:

I also say, it's kind of a mantra of mine, that scripture is meant to be read in community. It helps us hold each other accountable. We always have something new to learn and it's enriching. So not only in isolation with the psalm, but a psalm gathered with other people can be a beautiful thing in which we learn a lot. And pastors then can preach authentic sermons if that psalm is influencing them first. Too often we read texts and they don't influence us at all. I think that until the psalm has influenced you, changed your perspective even a little bit, given you new insights, that's what you want to take into the pulpit, or when you're teaching a psalm or even in your meditation, when you're finished, you should say, "Okay, this is how my perspective has been changed maybe a little bit. This is how I have a little different attitude or a different take on things." That's kind of how, and so it's a messy thing.

Tim Saleska:

In a commentary you have to make decisions. And that's what I did, but I would encourage that kind of messy conversation. Don't worry about having questions for which you don't have answers. Don't try to tie the psalm to a chair and beat a meaning out of it as one famous poet said to do with poems in general. And those are all practices we kind of have to unlearn because in academic settings, we read scripture in certain ways and can get into bad habits.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well, you alluded to this, I think it's very easy to read the Psalms or any scripture really and go, as you mentioned, "Oh, Fred in the third row. Yeah. This is talking to him or my spouse needs to read this or my coworker really needs it." It's so easy to fall into that trap. But if we step back, like you suggested and, "Okay, how is this influencing me?", it's a convicting thing to really force yourself to have that messy conversation.

Tim Saleska:

Yes, yes. And so sometimes the psalm convicts you and Luther has that experience and so did St. Augustine. When he read through a psalm, this kind of practice was more common. And so at one point in his meditation on Psalm four, Augustine, it convicted him because it reminded him of his past life and how far he was from God and how he needs to think about his life now in the light of who he is as a Christian. And so being convicted is, again, something that Christian should be familiar with because we engage in these practices of repentance and forgiveness and this move to grace and the gospel and a renewed life that our faith offers us.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Why do you think poetry was included in the Bible? I mean, when you go back to the big picture, why do humans, I would almost say, crave poetry or are drawn to poetry and why would it be included in our scriptures?

Tim Saleska:

Yeah. So I think that's a really good question. Notice that the scriptures are not a systematic book. It's not a doctrinal treatise. It's not meant to be. And so there are all kinds of genres in there. There are stories, there's law, there's this whole wisdom literature. Job is different than Ecclesiastes is different than Proverbs. In the New Testament, you have the gospel narratives, you have letters, you have the book of Acts, you have Revelation, which is this strange book that has a lot of connections with some of the Old Testament prophets. You have prophetic preaching. And so you have this kind of anthology of works that are sacred, that are read in similar ways with kind of this overarching theological unity, but by no means uniformity. And they all give us different perspectives into our relationship with God and our Christian life, our walk with our Lord.

Tim Saleska:

And so we resonate with different parts of scripture in different times of our life. And so I think poetry is, and especially creative work, in the beginning of my commentary, I have this why poetry kind of question and right from the beginning, God encouraged Adam to use his words, first of all, to name the animals and then notice... This was a discovery I had, I didn't even start to think about it when he first meets that woman, he breaks out in poetry. It's like, "I've never met anything like this before, but I like her." And so it has that beautiful poem. And so the connection to me is, hey, when you're going to praise God and the Psalms, the Hebrew word's tehillim, praises, nothing more natural than poetry. And some of the, when you think about our hymns, your dad does such a great job of praying hymns. But when you see those, you see how poetic they are. It's great when you see a hymn text, for example, without the musical notations in between. So you can see the verses and you can see clearly the beautiful poetry that they are.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Hymns. I love the hymns and I tend to think of them more often as prayers than poetry, but when you put it like that, they definitely are poetry. And they're so profound much like, well, and the Psalms are our first hymnbook really. And so it's amazing how they give voice to so many emotions and that's the whole range, no matter what you might be encountering from day to day.

Tim Saleska:

Right. Right. Yeah. So, yeah. So Luther mentioned that, right? Calvin has mentioned that. St. Augustine, Athanasius all saw that the Psalms touch all parts of the human soul. And that's why another point I wanted to make about the Psalms and their beauty is that that's why people even outside the Christian faith can resonate with the emotions and the affect of the psalm, the experience of the psalm. So when I was doing some research on the Psalms, counselors, Christian and non-Christian, would use Psalms because it would give a voice to the inner life of people who are suffering or in distress that don't have a language of their own. They could resonate with them. The point that one of the chaplains I read, who does Bible studies in prison with the most marginalized people and he did one with the Psalms, he noticed that the prisoners really resonated with certain Psalms like the imprecatory psalms or the psalms in which the speaker was wondering where God was and expressing their distress.

Tim Saleska:

The great thing about the Psalms is it doesn't leave you there. So they usually, like a liturgy, take you, like if you look at those great laments, to this point where the psalmist's faith resurfaces, and he hopes anew in God's hesed, in his grace and his mercy, and longs to see it. And you see that in lament after lament, I think Psalm 88 and Psalm 39 are the only ones that leave you in darkness, which makes them kind of outliers. But nevertheless, the majority of them lead you and so they form you. They're taking you somewhere. And I think that's a beautiful thing about the Psalms and what my point is then that if you want to have conversations around a part of the scriptures with your friends who may not be Christian, start with Psalms, because they will be able to resonate with certain things at a gut level. And that will lead to questions and a conversation in which you can begin to then gently lead people to our Lord and the great news that he has for us now.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well, I think when we, again, slow down and we not only read the Psalms to give voice to what we're feeling, whether that's happy, sad, scared, angry, but if we slow down and, as you say, let the Psalms form us. I mean, there's a process again where we're definitely going deeper than just a quick, "Oh yeah. That captured exactly how I'm feeling today. I'm onto the next thing."

Tim Saleska:

Right. Right. No, you're right. It's kind of like peeling an onion. It's like this, someone else gave me this image years ago, the differences between knowing how to balance your checkbook and knowing your wife. All right, so to balance your checkbook all you need is a few directions. Boom, boom. But see, my wife's like the world's biggest onion. As soon I think I got one layer peeled, there's this other layer. She's listening in the background. But there's always more to know. Right? That's the beautiful thing about a relationship between a husband and wife. You kind of never really get to the bottom. You're always learning. And that's how the psalm is. You can read it at one level. Okay. But then when you come back to it, when you slow down, there's other levels and deeper and deeper, it becomes meaningful in different contexts.

Tim Saleska:

I mean, Psalm 23 again, or Psalm 46 are so meaningful to us because we say them in these various contexts. And so we bring that experience to us in the reading of the psalm. And a lot of people have, in our discussions in conferences I do and stuff like that, talk about their experiences in certain well-known familiar psalms like that.

Elizabeth Pittman:

So when we talk about the Psalms and we think about them, we've talked about them as prayers. What do we mean when we say that the Psalms are God's words to us and our words to God?

Tim Saleska:

Yeah, good. Yeah. Bonhoeffer makes a big point of that, but others do too. The psalms have that dual function in our church and they always have. First of all, they're part of God's word in which he brings us his beautiful truth. The apostles in the New Testament and Jesus, notice in their epistles and in the gospels, you could see the Psalms functioning mainly as God's word to us. So for example, the apostles will talk about how the Psalms fulfill prophecy or that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Psalms, those kinds of things. They use them in their sermons and in their teachings, God's word to us direction, the commentaries of God's word to us direction because we're studying the Psalms, we're opening it up, that kind of thing. But in the New Testament too, there's this other direction which we use them as our words to God, right?

Tim Saleska:

"May the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom as you seek and admonish one another in," so notice that God's word to us, "with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs," then it says "singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord." So it switches right there in the middle of the verse to the our words to God. And so throughout the history of the church, we've used them in our liturgies, in our hymns, in our private prayers, in our devotions, as our words to God. And it's that beautiful dynamic that you can still see today in the life of the church and God's people.

Elizabeth Pittman:

They're so beautiful as you go through all of them. And you've done a huge amount of work as you've been studying this. Did anything surprise you as you undertook this project? Did anything jump out at you and go, "Wow, I had never realized that before"?

Tim Saleska:

Oh, oh my that's a interesting question. So I learned so much through this process. I think the first part was grappling with a couple of issues, how to read the Psalms as poetry was the big one. And when I started to get a sense of that, that really opened up stuff to me, it's like, "Oh," and another thing that surprised me too, is we're so used to reading the Psalms in these literary categories like, "Oh, here's thanksgiving psalm. It has these characteristics. Here's a praise Psalm. It has these characteristics," et cetera. When we do that, we miss the uniqueness of each individual psalm. And so reading each psalm kind of in depth, it was cool whenever I would see this key, "Oh, this is how this psalm is working in its own unique way." And it would help me to be able to make kind of a coherent description of what the psalm's doing.

Tim Saleska:

And so that reading the psalm part one was a very difficult part to do, but it was always very satisfying when I saw, "Oh, okay. This is what makes that psalm unique in comparison with other psalms that may be in the same like lament genre, but it has its own unique features." And I really enjoyed that.

Elizabeth Pittman:

So you referenced in your commentary, you have a Reading the Psalms part one, which you just described. Describe how you set up Reading the Psalms part two.

Tim Saleska:

Okay. So Reading the Psalms part two was the more intentional move to read the Psalm in the light of Christ with the most devotional perspective. And so Reading the Psalm part one would be mainly, okay, how does this Psalm connect with the Old Testament story? What is the psalmist doing and how am I to react to it in the various sections of the psalm? Part two then was this move to, well, let me back up. In part one sometimes I'd be left with questions. Okay, what happens here? How do I understand this? Part two then was my, "Okay. Now when I read in the light of Christ, how would I answer those questions? How do I read the psalm in a more devotional, deliberately, intentionally Christian way? So that part was the most intentionally made for lay persons and for pastors who want to teach on a psalm. So the sections are distinct, but they're meant to be coherent with each other. All right? And that's kind of how I envisioned the psalm as I was writing it.

Elizabeth Pittman:

I think it works very well. And as a reader, I've really, I've said this before, but I really do enjoy it.

Tim Saleska:

Thank you.

Elizabeth Pittman:

As you've taught the Psalms to countless students, do they have any common questions that keep coming up?

Tim Saleska:

They struggle, like all of us, with the question of how do I make sure I slow myself down? We always need to really practice that. And I always encourage them sometimes in a cemetery, cemetery, seminar. Freudian slip. Sorry. We've got a lively seminary.

Elizabeth Pittman:

It's a very lively place.

Tim Saleska:

Yeah. Yeah. So sometimes you see this in laypersons as well. We school people for whatever reason with this fear of being right or wrong. So like, there's this kind of cognitive right or wrong answer. And in an academic setting, I'm really frightened to be wrong, but you see that in church. I struggled. I did not like that problem when lay people would hesitate to give me their view or their perspective because they were afraid that someone would say they were wrong. I think we need to get over that habit as people. And so I always encourage people to, "Hey, think less about being right and wrong. And don't worry about that because if you're reading with other people, then you can hold yourself accountable if you are a humble reader," and Luther counsels to humility, "Hey, I might be wrong." And to treat each other with grace rather than condemnation, and again, this is what I said at the beginning of our talk.

Tim Saleska:

If you say something that I might disagree with, I need to stop and instead of saying, "No, you're wrong. Here's the right answer," I need to stop and think, "Well, maybe there's something to what Elizabeth is saying. Maybe I can learn something." How would we engage in further conversation rather than this kind of no, I have all the answers because when you do that, it stops conversation, right? If a pastor says, "This is what the text means," it's a conversation stopper. What can you say? It's kind of a power move. So I always try to encourage students not to do that, but I would say that's the inner anxiety or fear that we all need constant work to kind of get over. But the easiest way to get over it is in community of loving, caring, compassionate people give each other a break. And sometimes that's lacking in our church. I'm on my soap box now, but hey.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well I think when we step back and we have the conversations with humility in community, we can learn so much better and we, I think we can bring it into our lives in a richer, more long lasting way than if we're just here's your answer handed down from on high, no discussion, just take it and go. When we can grapple with it and have a healthy conversation, we'll learn so much more.

Tim Saleska:

So much more. I mean, as a young pastor, when you start to teach Bible class, the pressure's on to have all the answers and I was amazed. I had this great Bible class to start out with of very highly educated, challenging people. In fact, the church was formed with dissidents from other churches. So they weren't afraid to give me their opinion. Luckily, I think it's because of my upbringing with my dad and mom, I was humble enough to listen. And I learned so much from the insights of people and I took that to heart in my own teaching as well. Try to always to remember that. I had 13 years with those people in weekly Bible studies and I really learned how to teach and how to listen and then say, "I really don't know the answer to that," and then go back and think about it or investigate and come back and we'd have these kinds of conversation.

Tim Saleska:

I just think that's so important for pastors and teachers, lay people as well. Again, don't be afraid to be wrong or listen to other people or anything like that. Let's just have these great conversations and keep them going.

Elizabeth Pittman:

No, that's great advice. So as we wind down, I suspect you're going to be fielding questions like this a lot, now that the commentary has been published. Of the Psalms, or more in particula the first 50, is there one that you'd find has become either an old favorite or one that has popped up as a newer favorite?

Tim Saleska:

All right. So yeah, people ask that all the time.

Elizabeth Pittman:

You're going to get this question a lot. So we're going to [crosstalk 00:35:31].

Tim Saleska:

Actually, my favorite Psalm is Psalm 90, a psalm by Moses. It's just a beautiful, reflective psalm. It's meant a lot to me over the past few years. In the first 50 Psalms, probably my favorite would be Psalm 42 and 43. I love the moves that the psalm makes. I love the expressions of the soul that that psalm gives us, the way that the voice of the psalm begins to describe his desire and how he gives a shape to it and how he directs it. So probably those two psalms would be the ones that I would give you right off the bat.

Elizabeth Pittman:

We're going to have to get you a tee shirt or a coffee mug that says my favorite Psalm is...

Tim Saleska:

Yeah. That's a good idea. Keep it coming.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Keep it coming.

Tim Saleska:

Give me the bling. Give me the bling.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well, we'll be working on that.

Tim Saleska:

You know I'm all about the bling. I still got the coffee cup you gave me, by the way. You don't even remember it though.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Oh, which? The white ceramic one?

Tim Saleska:

Yeah, the white one. It's all stained now, but we try to keep it clean.

Elizabeth Pittman:

We'll get you a fresh one.

Tim Saleska:

All right. That's cool.

Elizabeth Pittman:

Well, Tim, thank you so much for being with us today. This has been a fantastic conversation about the Psalms and it's definitely has inspired me to spend more time slowing down to the Psalms, which would be a good discipline to take on. Enjoy your time up in the great north with your cool weather. And listeners, if you'd like to learn more, head over to the CPH website and look up the Concordia Commentary on Psalms one through 50. You won't be disappointed, I can assure you of that. Thanks so much for joining us, Tim, and we'll catch everyone next time.

Tim Saleska:

You're very welcome. And thanks for putting up with all the noise and all the chaos around here. I really appreciate it. It's been great, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Pittman:

We're keeping it real today. It's all good. Have a great day. Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Concordia Publishing House podcast. I pray that this time was valuable to your walk with Christ. We'd love to connect with listeners on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at concordiapub. Visit cph.org for more resources to grow deeper in the gospel.