The book of Psalms is the longest book in the bible, and perhaps one of the most influential on modern society. This collection of literary praises, demonstrates faithful men who remained faithful in both good times, and times of deep despair. It is clear through this text that these faithful people looked to the future, and had reasons for long-term optimism.
It is indicated that God is sovereign, and this is consistent throughout the Psalms. To start, it is important to understand the meaning of sovereignty: “Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.” With that in mind, the Psalms convey that God is the ultimate, there is nothing higher than God. God is therefore the ultimate good. Personally, I believe that God created man, and gave man a sense of morality. In making decisions, man knows what is right and what is wrong. However, he also gave man free will. Thus man has the ability to make his own choices. While the ideal would be to obey God, this is a choice for the individual to make. What is it that inspires the individual to choose obedience towards God; good over evil? What were the reasons for the long-term optimism of the faithful?
There is a connection between the law of God and the sanctions of God. It is a simple idea, obedience towards God, will result in positive sanctions from God. If God is the sovereign being, then these positive sanctions from God are the ultimate reward that man can attain. This hope that faith and obedience of man towards God, is a significant reason for long-term optimism. If you obey God, He will deliver you.
This long-term optimism was only rejoiced in by the individuals who remained faithful and obedient to God. In the Psalms, there is military language that implies the faithful were delivered by God from the evildoers who refused to dwell in the house of the Lord. Not all men possessed this long term optimism, there were those who disobeyed the laws of God. These evildoers did not receive the historical deliverance that the faithful received. Those who refuse to bow before God, who rebel against His name, were inflicted by God with negative sanctions.
Regarding sanctions, there is sufficient motivation for man to look to God in times of despair and remain faithful and pure in the eyes of God. Every man has an idea of morals; what they believe is good and what they believe is not moral. This may or may not coordinate with the law of God, because man has free will, however, if man’s morals do not coordinate with the laws of God, he will be inflicted with negative sanctions. God intervenes, if man cannot be stronger than the temptations of evil, God will intervene.
The idea of faith and obedience towards God, and in return eternal reward, is, in my opinion, the fundamental reason offered in the book of Psalms for long-term optimism.