The issues of honor and shame are significant in all cultures, but in some cultures it is much more prominent. This is true, I believe, of most Islamic cultures. In the future I hope to post more about honor/shame and other worldview paradigms, but for now I simply want to share some thoughts about honor and shame, specifically as they are found in the Psalms (the Zabur).
A few years ago I was able to take a Hebrew course on the Psalms (they were originally written in Hebrew). Because it was independent study I tailored the content to fit my interests. The result was a study on honor and shame in the Psalms. Over the next few weeks I am hoping to post once or twice a week what I learned. I am hopeful that Western Christians will grow in seeing the significance of honor/shame in the Bible and that Muslims will better understand how the Bible deals with these issues.
In the beginning there was no shame, only honor. At the creation of man we are told, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Indeed, there was great honor given to mankind, for they were the only creatures created in the image of God and it was to man that God gave dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). When Adam ate from the forbidden tree, he not only brought guilt upon all his progeny, but he also brought shame. Shame, which was once unheard of in the Garden, is now universal.
The Psalter is a book of songs, a book of poetry. In it we see displayed the whole range of human emotion. It is no wonder then, that we also see the exultation of honor and the fear of shame. In the next few posts we will first seek to understand what shame and honor are, especially in the Psalms. Then we will try to make sense of their significance in the Psalter in order that we might see their true significance in the redemptive plan of God. Along the way I would be happy for any insights you might have as well.
Read the other posts in this series:
Part 1, “Introduction”
Part 2, “What Are Honor and Shame?”
Part 3, “The Honor of Man”
Part 4, “The Shame of Sin”
Part 5, “The Honor of the King (God’s Anointed One)”
Part 6, “Honor Comes through the Shaming of Your Enemies”
Part 7, “Honor, Shame and Salvation”
Part 8, “Honor through the Shame of the Messiah”
Part 9, “We Need More than a Messiah”