Traditional Christian appropriation of the Hebrew scriptures often flattens them. Stories become precursors of later New Testament events rather than genuine events in themselves. Vivid multidimensional characters become mere prefigurations instead of figures in their own right, and complex narrative situations are reduced to a single theological point.
Sometimes the point of scripture is the transcendence of the Holy One. This was something Isaiah knew well—“Truly, you are a God who hides yourself” (45: 15) —as did the long-suffering Job. So did Paul, who comes to a point in his Epistle to the Romans when he realizes he cannot go any further. “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God!” he writes.
The Psalms have always functioned as a book of common prayer. But there is also a long history of turning to the Psalter as a sourcebook for poetry. It is not difficult to see why. Many of the psalms foreground the act of speech or song—the activity of utterance itself—as the chief end of everything that has breath.
According to Emily Dickinson, you speak the truth best when you tell it “slant.” I am quite sure that when she penned this line the blessed Trinity was far from her thoughts. Nonetheless, her characterization of truth-telling is good to keep in mind when approaching this mysterious feast of God, the three in one and one and three.
How do you prove that your uncle killed your father on his way to seizing both a crown and a sister-in-law for himself? Hamlet decides that a bit of drama called “The Mouse-trap” might be the way to “catch the conscience of the king”: