The power of the Psalms

If you only knew the power of verses of Psalms and their effect in the highest Heavens, you would recite them constantly. Know that the chapters of Psalms shatter all barriers, they ascend higher and still higher with no interference; they prostrate themselves in supplication before the Master of all worlds, and they effect and accomplish with kindness and compassion

– Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch ("Tzemach Tzeddek, 1789-1866)

I know how powerful the Psalms are. I pray the Psalms at adoration

Which is why there is a rosary of Psalms: ten per decade, with an Our Father before each set of ten. I think it’s a great devotion.

I always wonder at this (the underlined part), because I realize there is a lot to the Psalms that escape me.

For songs of praise, there is no equal!!! The Psalms (of praise) lift my heart to heaven with great joy and gladness!

But there are numerous Psalms where the psalmist prays that God punish the psalmist enemies. There is often hatred and anger addressed at the psalmists enemies.

Where is the compassion that Rabbi Menachem talks of?

I would imagine it would be the same compassion contained in the Holy Rosary.

Doubtful, very doubtful.

What he means is a lot of the Psalms are very revengeful. They asked that God would bring revenge to the supplicant’s enemies. As Christians we are not supposed to pray to God to get revenge over others. We are supposed to forgive our enemies and even love our enemies. At most, we pray for God’s mercy and foregiveness.

But Not Worthy is right, there are beautiful beautiful psalms praising God and his majesty, power, and love!

Well, certainly we can understand those Psalms as praying for victory (not necessarily revenge) over spiritual enemies - or even over the warring parts of our own divided nature. And glorying in those occasions when God DOES give the victory in spiritual battle!

That sounds like that you would only pray certain psalms and not others. The Psalms are not revengeful. These Psalms are direct prayers to God. They are intended to be spiritual and not detrimental

Huh? Praying for God to destroy one’s enemies is equal to the compassion of the Rosary? Where did that come from?

Well, since I’m the one that originally brought it up… I’m just saying that I can relate to the Psalms of praise!!!

It’s like my soul recoils when I come across the psalms of retribution.

But, alas, I realize that the problems lies in me, and further study can only help!!!

I’m with you Not Worthy. Here is one that is a little disturbing to say the least:

Psalm 58

58:1 Do you indeed speak righteousness, silent ones?
Do you judge blamelessly, you sons of men?
58:2 No, in your heart you plot injustice.
You measure out the violence of your hands in the earth.
58:3 The wicked go astray from the womb.
They are wayward as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
58:4 Their poison is like the poison of a snake;
like a deaf cobra that stops its ear,
58:5 which doesn’t listen to the voice of charmers,
no matter how skillful the charmer may be.
58:6 Break their teeth, God, in their mouth.
Break out the great teeth of the young lions, Yahweh.
58:7 Let them vanish as water that flows away.
When they draw the bow, let their arrows be made blunt.
58:8 Let them be like a snail which melts and passes away,
like the stillborn child, who has not seen the sun.
58:9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns,
he will sweep away the green and the burning alike.
58:10 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance.
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked;
58:11 so that men shall say, “Most certainly there is a reward for the righteous.
Most certainly there is a God who judges the earth.”

Thanks Christine!

I’m also thinking of one where the psalmist prays that his enemies babies are dashed upon the stone. I can’t recall the psalm, and I’m not 100% sure that I found it among the psalms.

I must reiterate that I love the psalms - I even get to sing them twice a week at morning vespers at our local retreat center/monastery - but I can’t admit to have my arms around all of them, so to speak.

Not to belabor the point, but look at the two lines I underlined. I’d much rather pray for my enemies’ conversion than for the chance to wash my feet in their blood… Ooooh!

Or is it just me?

In some spiritual book I was reading, the author (a priest) mentioned that the enemies mentioned in the Psalms are actually our own sins.

Interesting concept, and it makes for a whole new interpretation! I haven’t fully reread the Psalms yet with this in mind, but plan to do so at some point.

I never meant this thread to become controversial, but spiritually uplifting.

  1. Keep in mind that the psalms are recited at every Mass. To condemn certain psalms is to reject the Word of the Lord.

  2. To the degree that the Holy Rosary is based on the psalms, and it is based on the psalms, we inadvertently reject the deeper holiness of the Rosary.

  3. I personally see these psalms as metaphors depicting spiritual evil.

I will agree with you on that

I could be wrong, but I believe there’s a lot of hyperbole in the Psalms. We have to remember that for many of the Psalms, particularly authored by King David, he had a very rough time with people conspiring against him, including one of his own sons. I believe he was expressing what was in his soul, right or wrong.


Just out of curiousity, how is the Rosary based on the Psalms?

I never condemned the Psalms and I don’t think anybody has. I simply stated how much I love some of the Psalms and simply do not relate to others. And I realize the fault is mine, not the Psalms.

The early Jews and Christians would recite the psalms - all 150 of them.

The rosary became the illiterate’s Psalter. Instead of memorizing each Psalm, the Christian would recite a Hail Mary. That’s probably how we came up with 3 sets of mysteries, to get 150 of them in all.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit