The sacramental centre of this faith is the Temple in Jerusalem, to which the exile turns with passionate longing (xlii., xliii.— originally a single psalm). (The devotion to the "Law" came later, except for i., xix. 7-14, cxix.) To the temple come the pilgrims from afar (cxx.–cxxxiv.), full of pride in the holy city (xlviii.), the spiritual home of many proselytes as well as of Jewish exiles (1xxxvii.). The temple is Yahweh's earthly dwelling-place (cxxxii. 13, 14) to which His "guests" may come (xv., xxiv.) ; its sacrifices (lxvi. 13-15, cxvi. 13) and processions (lxviii. 24-27, cxviii., xxvi. 6) mark supreme moments of religious experience. This is the normal attitude of the Psalmists towards the temple; but the emphasis of the Book is prophetic rather than priestly, and this finds utterance sometimes in the contrast of "spiritual" religion with external rites (xl., 1., li., except for the added verses, li. 18, 19). The personal religion of the psalmists is marked by trust in Yahweh based on history and experience (xvi., xxiii., xci., viii.), by the consciousness of "righteousness" (xviii. 20-24), not
divorced from fundamental ethical qualities (xv., xxiv., ci., 1.), by the awakening to a sense of sin and of the need of forgiveness, usually, it would seem, through misfortune, sickness, the fear of death (xxxii., cxxx.), and in the highest examples, by a vic torious conviction of fellowship with God (lxxiii. 23-26) which even death will not be able to break. This last is the more noteworthy, because there does not seem to be either here or elsewhere in the psalms any explicit teaching of immortality or resurrection (some have found the hope in xvi., xvii., xlix.).
Such is the relatively simple faith of the most influential book of the Old Testament, which has claimed so supreme a place in the public worship and private devotion of Jew and Christian. Its magical secret lies in its simple and concrete expression of universal religious experience. Its value is altogether independent of our enquiries into its sources; indeed, it has won•its place by its lowly submissiveness to reinterpretation in order to meet the ever-changing needs of the unchanging human heart.