The book begins by exploring a number of signposts in psalms' scholarship which alert us to the value of psalms as a form of prayer. The particular focus is lament psalms, and their potential as a form of prayer for people engaging with distressing experiences in life. What follows, is a discussion of lament as a process and the areas of potential change for someone who uses these psalms for prayer. The final section of the book includes stories of several people who prayed some of these psalms over a period of time. It explores their responses and reflections in an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of praying psalms such as these. The book culminates with a chapter which invites the reader to pray some psalms of distress themselves with notes suggesting an appropriate ritual to follow and some ideas for further exploration.
'David J. Cohen's book, Why, O Lord?, provides a wonderful, comprehensive view of the psalms of lament. It is an encouragement to all Christian traditions to look with fresh eyes on the psalms as prayer, and particularly the psalms of lament, as our suffering, and the suffering of many in our world, needs the language to cry out to God in times of darkness. The psalms express every human emotion and use a strong confidence that we can cry out to God, and that God will hear our suffering, and that transformation is possible. Bringing the psalms of lament into ritual, so aptly described by Cohen, brings a new dimension to worship, both personal and communal. This book is an excellent academic and pastoral addition to our knowledge of the psalms.'
Angela McCarthy, lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia: National President of the Australian Academy of Liturgy
DAVID J. COHEN is Head of Biblical Studies and Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Language at Vose Seminary, Perth, WA. Formerly a professional musician and music teacher, David has had significant experience in church ministry and is a popular and creative educator. He formerly oversaw the lay training and professional development program for the Churches of Christ in Western Australia. David is married with two children and in August 2008 he completed a PhD exploring the Psalms of Lament and their use in a pastoral setting.