The flaw in Reflections on the Psalms

First, let me say there were parts of Reflections I found amazing and insightful. Lewis is able to dig into some of the depths that many readers of Scripture simply never get to.

That said, the book seemed to miss the mark because of its tone. What works so well in other Lewis books seems to falter here. This happens to Lewis from time to time. When he fails in tone, the work fails, whether fiction or non-fiction. Fictionally, one needs to look no further than the failure of That Hideous Strength, where ideas overwhelm the plot. And here, Lewis fails because he never seems to allow the Psalms to be the focus of the writing. In chapter 8 he spends most of his time speaking of how the ancients dealt with nature. He seems particularly impressed with a piece of poetry out of the 14th century by Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhetep IV. The four pages he gives to this Egyptian Pharaoh are interesting, but they seem out of place in a book that is supposed to be reflecting on the Psalms. Sometimes I wonder if he wants to reflect on the Psalms.   

In the end, I’m simply not sure what Lewis was aiming for in the book. It feels more like a book of observations thrown together rather than an organized project for a book. And that is too bad, because I would have loved to hear more of his insights on the actual Psalms.


Leave a Reply