For the past five thousand years the Jewish people have used psalms, many of which are accredited to have been written by their preeminent and historic King, David (1040-970 BC- King, warrior, poet and musician), in their worship and praise of God. Similarly during the entire history of Christianity (2,000 years), these same psalms have been integral to Christian worship. These psalms may well be the most repeated (read and sung) words ever written. Jews and Christians alike revere them as inspired by God. They were even quoted as such by Jesus. Millions of religious leaders of the Judo-Christian heritage (Jewish Rabbis, and Christian Monks, Priest, and Pastors) make a practice to devoutly recite psalms every day; offering to God in worship these inspired and prayerful words. All such people might be identified as Psalmists.
Evidence in Stone Age paintings and therefore older than the Psalms, is a practice and belief in forecasting the future entitled Palmistry. These palmist were sought out in the hope of foretelling fortunes, hence they gained the name fortune tellers. Reading the lines, marks and patterns on the palms of hands, these fortune tellers were accredited as able to see the future. This art and claim of power as a palmist is found more among women than men. In the fourth century BC the great philosopher Aristotle, made reference to Palm Reading prevalence in his day (although he himself is revered as one of the first affinitive monotheists outside of Judaism). In the first century AD, Julius Caesar employed palm-readers for determining innocence or guilt, especially for identifying imposters.
In my lifetime, I observe now and then a sign reading Palm Reading. It seems the longer I live the fewer such signs do I see. There seems to be a growing lack of faith in Palmist; perhaps not much different than many “Christians” with a growing lack of faith in Christ.
Although these two words palms and psalm look and sound somewhat alike, and both have a long history of reading for supernatural connection, there could not be any greater variance between them.
Palm reading is a paramount example of superstition – belief in a supernatural presence and power with no substantiating evidence. However, it could well be a sincere effort to employ the divine by those without the gift of God’s revealed truth. The Psalms, however, are surrounded by a myriad of God’s miracles clearly recorded for our reading in the Old Testament.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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