The Psalms and the Christian Life

Scott R. Swain
James Woodrow Hassell Professor of Systematic Theology
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

The Psalms as handbook for the Christian life

In his “Preface to the Revised Edition of the German Psalter” (1531), Martin Luther called the Psalms “a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended.” In praising the Psalter this way, the German Reformer follows the example of what he calls the “holy fathers.” According to one such father, Basil of Caesarea, different books of the Bible teach different doctrines that, in turn, provide different remedies for the soul: “the prophets teach one thing, historians another, the law something else, and the form of advice found in the proverbs something different still.” “But,” the Cappadocian father tells us, “the Book of Psalms has taken over what is profitable from all.” “It foretells coming events; it recalls history; it frames laws for life; it suggests what must be done; and, in general, it is the common treasury of good doctrine, carefully finding out what is suitable for each one. The old wounds of souls it cures completely, and to the recently wounded it brings speedy improvement; the diseased it treats, and the unharmed it preserves.” Not only is the Psalter “a common treasury of good doctrine” for the cure of souls according to Basil. It is also “a great public treasury” of “perfect theology.” The theological treasury of the Psalms contains “a prediction of the coming of Christ in the flesh, a threat of judgment, a hope of resurrection, a fear of punishment, promises of glory, an unveiling of mysteries.”[1]

My focus in what follows is not on the Psalms as a compendium of “perfect theology” but as a “handbook” (Luther) for the Christian life. Such a focus requires little justification, for the Psalms lie at the heart of Christian piety. Sung in the daily office by members of religious orders in patristic and medieval times, Thomas Cranmer integrated the Psalms into the “common prayer” of the Reformed Church of England at the time of the Reformation. The Psalms are specially suited to such devotional use. Their concise poetic lines, rich in imagery, make the Psalms easy to savor, easy to sing, and thus easy to memorize. Their brief and beautiful words are honey from the honeycomb (Ps 19:10), the delight of all the saints. But the Psalms are not mere ornament or empty aesthetic. The Psalms are torah, divine instruction. And this, according to Basil, is part of their divinely designed brilliance. As we learn to chant the “harmonious melodies of the psalms,” we “become trained in soul.” The beauty and brevity of the Psalms serve the beatifying end of making us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God.

The Psalms and the good life

As a handbook for the Christian life, the Psalms have much to say about keeping God’s law, about avoiding evil, and about fulfilling religious duties. However, the Psalter begins its teaching on the Christian life under the banner of beatitude: “How blessed is the man . . .” (Ps 1:1). By beginning with beatitude, the Psalms locate the rest of their teaching on the Christian life within this larger framework. The Psalms teach us that the Christian life is the good life, the abundant life, the happy life.

The poetry of the Psalter paints a number of pictures that help us better perceive the nature of beatitude. The “blessed” or “happy” man of Psalm 1 is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Ps 1:3; 92:12-14). Like meadows “clothed” with flocks and valleys “decked” with grain (Ps 65:13), the happy person is adorned in glory. Like “the going out of the morning and the evening,” the blessed community has abundant reasons to “shout and sing together for joy” (Ps 65:8, 13; 19:5). For happiness is a state where longings are fulfilled, where desires are fully satisfied (Ps 63:5). The blessed person lays his eyes on beauty (Ps 27:4; 17:15), feasts on abundance, and drinks from a river of delights (Ps 36:8). Fullness and flourishing, glory, satisfaction, and joy are the main features of beatitude according to the Psalms.

To locate the Psalter’s teaching on the Christian life under the banner of beatitude is not yet to distinguish its teaching as Christian teaching. After all, according to Aristotle, all people desire to be happy. They just fail to agree about what happiness is or about how to achieve it.[2]

In a university sermon on Psalm 84, Thomas Aquinas notes that, in the ancient world, many sought happiness in the possession of worldly goods such as wealth, power, honor, fame, and desire. Thomas argues that worldly goods such as these, whatever temporary happiness they may provide, are inadequate objects of perfect happiness. Because we can never get enough of them, they can never satisfy our cravings, they can never give rest to our souls.[3] Moreover, due to their inherent fragility, even the limited joy they bring is always mixed with sadness and fear: “the more we love (amo) the goods we possess, the more affliction they bring about as we fear losing them.”[4] Because worldly goods lack permanence and security, they cannot make us perfectly happy. Thomas, following the psalmist, proclaims that perfect happiness can only be found in the Lord’s house: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house” (Ps 84:4).

More recently, in his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman has shown that, for many in the late modern West, happiness is defined primarily in psychological categories. Happiness lies in deciding for myself who I want to be and in receiving recognition and affirmation from broader society (ideally through political mechanisms) of my self-chosen identity. Following Thomas’ example above, I would suggest that the self, and society’s affirmation of the self, is also a fragile frame for securing happiness (cf. John 5:44).

Aristotle is right. Though the pursuit of happiness is universal, people disagree about what happiness is and about how to achieve it. Where, then, does the Psalter’s claim that the Christian life is the good life fit among these competing visions of human happiness and its acquisition? In our short time we cannot possibly explore the full treasury of the Psalter’s teaching on the good life. I propose instead to consider how the Psalms aim to make us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God by instructing us on three topics: (1) God’s house, which is the end of the good life, (2) God’s instruction, which is the way of the good life, and (3) God’s anointed king, in whom the end and the way of the good life are personally embodied. According to the Psalter, the good life is found ultimately in God’s house, by following the path of God’s instruction, in fellowship with God’s anointed king.

 God’s house, the end of the good life

 According to the Psalms, the good life is ultimately realized through residence in God’s house, the temple God has established on Mount Zion: “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!” (Ps 84:4; 23:6).

God’s dwelling place in Zion is both a political and cultic reality, a palace where the divine king reigns and a temple where the divine king is worshipped. Zion is the glad recipient of the evangelical announcement, “the Lord reigns” (Ps 97:1, 8; 48:11). The Lord installs his anointed king in Zion (Ps 2:6) and sends forth his royal scepter from Zion to rule in the midst of his enemies (Ps 110:2). As the dwelling place of the divine king and his anointed Son, Zion is the pinnacle of beauty, the joy of all the earth (Ps 48:2). The streams of Zion’s river “make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High” (Ps 46:4). Zion is secure, abiding forever (Pss 48:8; 125:1; 146:10), the source of salvation and blessing (Pss 20:2; 128:5; 134:3).

As the seat of God’s international rule, the house of God in Zion is also the center of international worship, where God’s anointed king ministers as a Melchizedekian priest (Ps 110:4). Not only do the Lord’s servants stand in the house of the Lord to serve him day and night (Ps 134:1; 135:2). “The princes of the peoples” also “gather as the people of the God of Abraham” in his sovereign, holy presence (Pss 47:8-9; 68:29, 31-32) to call upon his name, to offer burnt offerings, and to perform their vows (Pss 66:13; 116:17-19). Worshippers in God’s temple behold the beauty of his glory (Ps 27:4), feast on the abundance of his house, and drink from the river of his delights (Ps 36:8). Those he chooses and brings near are happy: they are satisfied with the goodness of his house, the holiness of his temple (Ps 65:4). They flourish like a green olive tree in his presence (Pss 52:8; 92:13), “ever singing his praise” (Ps 84:4).

The Psalter portrays God’s house in Zion as our supreme good and final end. In Psalm 84:10, the psalmist declares: “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper”—occupying the lowest social position—“in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” In Psalm 137:6, the psalmist pronounces a curse on himself if he fails to remember Zion or to set Jerusalem above his highest joy. As our supreme good, God’s house is also our final end, the goal of all our quests and the end of all our journeys. “For every faithful person on pilgrimage in this world,” Augustine says, “there is nothing more agreeable than the thought of the city which is the goal of our journey.”[5] There all thirsts are quenched and all hungers are satisfied (Pss 42:2; 63:1-2; 65:4; 84:2).

To speak of God’s house as the supreme good and final end of the Christian life is not to say that God’s house is the product of the good life, the work of our hands. God’s house is not the “end” of the good life in that sense.[6] According to the Psalms, it is God who loves, chooses, and establishes Zion (Pss 51:18; 78:68; 87:2; 102:16; 132:13). God’s house is our supreme good and final end, not as the product of the good life, but as the crowning good that God promises his people. According to Augustine, the blessing of dwelling in God’s house is God’s “ultimate promise,” “to which our hope aspires, so that when we reach it we shall look for nothing further nor ask anything more.”[7] In God’s house, we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 12:28).

The reason God’s house holds this place in the Christian life is because “God is in the midst of her” (Ps 46:5). As both Augustine and Thomas Aquinas affirm, God’s house is blessed because “the blessed God” (1 Tim 1:11) dwells there.[8] God, according to the psalmist, is our supreme good: “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you” (Ps 16:2). And God is our final end: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Ps 16:5-6). It is good to dwell in God’s house because “it is good to be near God” (Ps 73:28), to gaze upon his beauty (Ps 27:4), to be satisfied with his likeness (Ps 17:15).

The Psalms portray God as our supreme good and final end by applying multiple images to him and to the beatitude that comes from dwelling in his presence. “The Lord God is a sun and shield”—the source of blessing and security. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11). When feasting on the abundance of his house, we drink from a river of delights because with him is the fountain of life; and in his light do we see light (Ps 36:8-9).

Augustine observes something peculiar in the Psalms’ use of this imagery. In identifying God by varied images, the Psalms identify God as the singular source of varied blessings, blessings related to both intellect and appetite. The divine reality “that is light is also a fountain: a fountain because it drenches the thirsty, a light because it illumines the blind.” This identification stands in contrast to earthly goods, which may illumine us without quenching our thirst or which may quench our thirst without giving light to our eyes.[9]

Identifying God as the light in which we see light and as the fountain of life not only signifies that God is the singular source of varied goods. It also signifies that God is “himself good in the proper sense.”[10] God is not merely light. God is a sun, a self-originating light. God is not merely alive. God is a fountain of life, one who has life in himself. Again, in Augustine’s words, God is “good by his own goodness, not by participating in some good thing outside himself; he is good by his own good self, not by cleaving to some other good.”[11] He goes on, “Plainly I cannot praise these other things apart from him [Ps 16:2!], but I find him to be perfect without them, needing nothing, unchangeable, seeking no kind of good to enhance his own happiness and fearing no manner of evil whereby he could be diminished.”[12] This, according to Augustine, is ultimately what it means to say, “the Lord is good” (Pss 34:8; 100:5; 135:3; 145:9).

In God alone, who is the fullness of light and life in and of himself, we find the adequate object of happiness that ends all quests for happiness. In God alone, and in God’s house, we find the kind of happiness that can be found in no other: supreme, secure, and perfect.[13] For this reason, according to the Psalter, God is not only the sole adequate object of our spiritual appetites: the soul’s most blessed vision and most satisfying food. God is the sole adequate object of our bodily existence as well: we were made and redeemed to walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living (Ps 116:9) and to open our lips that our mouths might declare his praise (Pss 51:15; 119:175).

Far from being a private, competitive good, moreover, God’s status as our supreme good and final end makes him the sole adequate object for the realization of our social nature as well. Delighting in him (Ps 16:2), we learn to delight in “the saints in the land,” “the excellent ones” in whom is all our delight (Pss 16:3; 133). The announcement of the Lord’s reign in Zion is not reason for Israel’s parochial joy. It is reason for “the many coastlands” to “be glad” (Ps 97:1). Beyond the inclusion of Israel and the nations, “Even the sparrow finds a home” in God’s house, “and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young” (Ps 84:3). Because the one who dwells in Zion is the supreme good, he is worthy of cosmic praise, reason enough that all things, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and all its depths, at all times should praise the Lord (Pss 146-150): “let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever” (Ps 145:21).

God’s instruction, the path of the good life

If, according to the Psalms, God’s house is the promised end of the good life, then God’s instruction is the path that leads us there. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Ps 84:5).

The metaphor of the “path” or “way” in the Psalter teaches us a number of things about the nature of God’s torah, law, or instruction. As an image of divine instruction, the metaphor of path points not only to that which the Lord prescribes: “Teach me your way, O Lord,” the psalmist prays (Ps 27:11). Path also points to the “life formed according to” the Lord’s “prescription.”[14] Thus, in response to the Lord’s blessing, the psalmist declares: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart” (Ps 119:32).

The path metaphor also indicates that God’s instruction has a telos, it leads us somewhere. Divine instruction is not mere rule, mere prescription of certain kinds of behavior. Divine instruction is a guide that directs us to a certain kind of end, namely, beatitude.[15] The one who follows God’s law, delighting in it, meditating on it day and night, walking in it (Ps 1:1-2), travels “the way of the righteous” (Ps 1:6), whose end is like that of “a tree planted by streams of water . . .” (Ps 1:3). This blessed end stands in stark contrast to the utter ruin to which “the way of the wicked” tends (Ps 1:6; 73:17-18).

As the image of the tree suggests, the eschatological telos to which the law directs us is also an anthropological telos. The law of God, according to the Psalms, is a means to human wholeness. Psalm 19 praises God’s law for its perfection and purity. The law reveals a “sure” foundation for belief and the “right” standard for living (Ps 19:7-8). The law is “pure” and “clean,” “true” and “righteous” altogether, without any mixture of error (Ps 19:8-9). The perfection and purity of God’s law, in turn, promote human wholeness, a point the psalmist makes by means of merism, referring to various parts of the human anatomy to illustrate the wholeness of the law-directed person. God’s instruction revives the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, delights the taste, conveys eternal life, and delivers from destruction (Ps 19:7-11). The law directs us to a holy and happy place, life in God’s house; and the law makes us whole and happy persons, who flourish in singing God’s praise: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Ps 92:12-15).

The law is no arbitrary divine policy. It is the divinely revealed path to creaturely beatitude. “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose hearts are the highways to Zion” (Ps 84:5). But the metaphor of path, in the context of the Psalter, also suggests that we have not yet arrived at our happy destination. Following God’s instruction, we must pass through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4), through “the Valley of Baca,” which is the valley of tears (Ps 84:6). Of the many types of psalms included in the Psalter, psalms of lament are by far the most common. And this with good reason: those who long to dwell in God’s house, ever singing his praise, must first learn songs of mourning, songs suited to the present distress. Thus Augustine encourages his congregation: “So, then, brothers and sisters, we feed on hope now, but there is no real life for us other than the life promised us in the future. Here our experience is of groaning, temptations, miseries, and dangers; but in the world to come our souls will praise the Lord as he deserves to be praised.”[16] As Thomas says, we are “the ones on the way (viatores) to happiness,” not the ones who have already arrived.[17]

Following God’s instruction in this vale of tears we find many occasions for lament, and the Psalms prepare us for all of these occasions. The Psalms teach us to lament the wicked, who devotes all his energies to our downfall and destruction (Ps 36:1-4). The Psalms teach us to lament the betrayal of friends (Pss 55; 69; 109). The Psalms teach us to lament the mismatch between God’s promises and present realities (Ps 89). And the Psalms teach us to lament our sin, our inbred capacity (Ps 51:5) to stray from God’s path “like a lost sheep” (Ps 119:176), a capacity which eludes our power to grasp or to master (Ps 19:12-13).

But the Psalms also teach miserable sinners like us to call upon the name of the Lord: “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God” (Ps 43:3-4; 119:176). God’s law in the Psalter is not only a path that he reveals and that he calls us to travel. It is also a path on which he sends us aid by sending us himself—“God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!” (Ps 57:3; cf. Isa 40:3), a path on which he accompanies us—“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4), and a path on which he leads us, as our front and rear guard, to our final, blessed destination—“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps 23:6). Because of the Lord’s presence to help, accompany, and guide us, the valley of tears becomes “a place of springs” (Ps 84:6).

God’s anointed king

The Psalms claim that the Christian life is the good life. They seek to make us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God, by directing us to the end of the good life, which is to dwell in God’s house, and by directing us to the path of the good life, which lies in following God’s instruction. Our survey of the Psalms’ teaching on the good life would not be complete, however, without considering the personal, messianic dimension of its moral instruction. The Psalms seek to make us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God, by knitting our hearts to God’s anointed king, who is both the end of the good life and the path to that end.

Psalms 1 and 2 introduce the two themes we have already discussed regarding the good life in connection to God’s anointed king. On one ancient and well-established reading, the “blessed man” of Psalm 1, who travels the “way of the righteous,” is first and foremost the king, who serves as exemplar and guide for the blessed life. More explicitly, Psalm 2 promises blessedness to those who take refuge in the king, the object of divine begetting and recipient of divine promises, whom God has installed on his holy hill. In Psalm 16, God’s anointed king addresses God as his supreme good and final end, in whose presence there is fullness of joy, at whose right hand are pleasures evermore; and he addresses God as the one who makes known to him “the path of life” (Ps 16:2, 5-6, 11). God’s anointed king is both beatitude in person and the means to our beatitude in fellowship with him. “The oil of gladness” (Ps 45:7), poured on the king’s head, runs down his beard and saturates his body, causing his people to rejoice in him (Ps 133:2). For this reason, the king’s suffering in the Psalter is an occasion for lament: “Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!” (Ps 84:10), while the king’s exaltation is cause for celebration: “May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” (Ps 72:17).

To speak of God’s anointed king in this manner is to speak in light of the Psalms’ fulfillment in the apostolic announcement of Jesus Christ and his coming. But this evangelical speech, enabled by apostolic announcement, answers to the speech of the Psalter as well. Through the speech of the Psalms, the to-be-incarnate Son of God presents himself to us, in riddle and promise, as the one in whom the good life finds fulfillment. God’s anointed king is not simply one theme among others in the Psalms. Properly speaking, he is not a theme at all. In the Psalms, God’s anointed king is the personal object of divine and human address (Pss 2; 45; 110).[18] In the Psalms, we hear his voice, offering lament and laud to God (Pss 16; 22), promising to proclaim God’s name to his siblings, and to give God praise in the midst of the congregation (Ps 22:22). “Grace is poured upon your lips,” Psalm 45:2 declares, because, in the Psalms, God’s anointed king sings us into God’s kingdom.

Paying attention to the speech of God’s anointed king, and to how others speak to and of him, is essential to seeing how the Psalms seek to make us whole and happy people, holy and happy in God. In Psalm 110, the most often cited Psalm in the New Testament, God’s anointed king is addressed by God as God and enthroned by God as God: “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’” (Ps 110:1). The divine identity of God’s anointed king resolves the Psalter’s riddle regarding what it means for the Lord to send out his light and his truth to lead us to his holy hill and to his dwelling (Pss 43:3; 57:3). How does the Lord send the Lord? By sending us his divine Son. . . (Mark 12:1-12, 35-37; Gal 4:4-7; etc.).

The divine identity of God’s anointed king also answers the Psalter’s promise that the Lord himself will help, accompany, and guide us on the path of God’s law to the beatitude of God’s house. Indeed, the Psalms suggest, in pregnant terms, just how the Lord will do so. According to Psalm 40:6-8, God’s anointed king “comes” into the world as “it is written” of him “in the scroll of the book.” To what end does he come? Not to offer the blood of bulls and goats, which cannot atone for sin (Pss 50:13; 51:16), but to receive “an open ear” that he might fulfill God’s law. God’s anointed king does not hover ghostlike above the path that leads to God’s house. He walks it, body and soul, as our brother and, in so doing, offers the costly ransom for us that only God could afford to give (Ps 49:7-8, 15). He suffers the Godforsakenness that his sinful people deserve (Ps 22:1) and causes the afflicted to be satisfied with the result that “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (Ps 22:26-27).

Finally, God’s anointed king is not only the path that leads us to God’s house. He is also the supreme good and final end to which that path leads us. Installed by God on Mount Zion (Pss 2:6; 110:1-2), God’s anointed king is the supremely “pleasant theme/thing/word” of the Psalter as a whole (Ps 45:1). He is “the most handsome of the sons of men” (Ps 45:2), anointed by God with “the oil of gladness” beyond his companions (Ps 45:7). In majesty he rides out victoriously “for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness” (Ps 45:4), sending sharp arrows into “the heart of the king’s enemies” (Ps 45:5). By his beauty and majesty, his bride is drawn to forsake her father’s house for his (Ps 45:10-16). By his beauty and majesty, he causes his name to be “remembered in all generations” and nations to praise him “forever and ever” (Ps 45:17). God’s anointed king is, in this sense, the supreme good and final end to which the Psalms direct us. “When we reach him,” Augustine tells us, “we shall have nowhere further to go, and so he is called the ‘end’ of our journey.”[19]

Grace is poured upon his lips. By divine design, the Psalms seek to make us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God, by enabling us to hear his voice, the voice of God’s anointed king. He sings to us, with us, in us, and through us as we walk the path of God’s law, offering lament and praise in this vale of tears. He sings us into the kingdom, into God’s house, leading a chorus of happy praise to God (Ps 145) and, with God, receives the praise of which God alone is worthy: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Ps 45:6).


Much has been written in recent days about the place of habituation in virtue formation.[20] The Psalms have much to teach us here. Their brief and beautiful lines lend themselves to repetition, memorization, and habituation. Moreover, they are specifically designed with virtue formation in view. According to Basil, the Spirit “devised for us these harmonious melodies of the psalms, that they who are children in age or, even those who are youthful in disposition might to all appearances chant but, in reality, become trained in soul.” The Psalms are designed to make us whole and happy persons, holy and happy in God.

But, as we have seen with the help of readers like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the Psalms do not form us merely through repetition, merely by habituation. As the Spirit writes their words on our hearts (cf. Ps 84:5), the Psalms form us by presenting to us the supreme good and final end of the Christian life, by directing us on the path that leads to that supreme good and final end, and by knitting our hearts in faith, hope, and love to the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), God’s anointed king, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Christian life, thus understood, is the good life, the virtuous life, the life of beatitude that belongs to those who through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ come to dwell in God’s house, ever singing his praise (Ps 84:4). “May we be led to it by the Son.”[21]


[1] Basil of Caesarea, “Homily 10,” in Basil of Caesarea: Exegetic Homilies, The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46, trans. Agnes Clare Way (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1981). Cf. similar themes in Athanasius, “The Letter of St. Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms,” in The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus, trans. Robert C. Gregg (New York: Paulist Press, 1980).

[2] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 2nd ed., trans. Terence Irwin (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1999), Book I.

[3] Thomas Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” in Thomas Aquinas: The Academic Sermons, The Fathers of the Church: Medieval Continuation, vol. 46, trans. Mark-Robin Hoogland (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010), 283.

[4] Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” 284.

[5] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 145,” in Expositions of the Psalms, trans. Maria Boulding, ed. Boniface Ramsey (New York: New City Press, 2018), 6:469.

[6] See Oliver O’Donovan, Entering into Rest, Ethics as Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2017), 31-40.

[7] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 109,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 5:261.

[8] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 121,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:10. Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” 281.

[9] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 35,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 2:86.

[10] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 134,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:216.

[11] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 134,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:216.

[12] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 134,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:218.

[13] Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” 281.

[14] Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking, Ethics as Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 220.

[15] Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking, 217-18.

[16] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 145,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:476; see also “Exposition of Psalm 148,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 6:559.

[17] Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” 282.

[18] For an introduction to “prosopological exegesis” of the Psalms in the New Testament, see Matthew Bates, The Birth of the Trinity (New York: Oxford University, 2015). Prosopological exegesis is prominent in Augustine’s interpretation of the Psalms as well. See Michael Cameron, Christ Meets Me Everywhere: Augustine’s Early Figurative Exegesis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

[19] Augustine, “Exposition of Psalm 45,” in Expositions of the Psalms, 2:310-311.

[20] James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing, 2016); Matthew LaPine, The Logic of the Body: Retrieving Theological Psychology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).

[21] Aquinas, “Sermon 19,” 294.