THE DIDACTIC BOOKS, THE PSALTER,The remaining seven books of the Old Testament are called the Didactic or Sapiential Books.* They contain precepts and counsels to guide human conduct in accord with the good designs of God. "Job" and "Job's comforters" have passed into the language of the proverbial; the Book of Job describes this marvellous man, his sufferings and his patience. Proverbs is written in the language of the parable; Ecclesiastes (i.e. the Preacher) speaks eloquently of the vanity of human glory; the Canticle of Canticles (i.e. the greatest of Canticles) is an allegory in which God's love is described in terms of human love. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus are very easily read and understood. Lastly, there is the Psalter or Book of Psalms, which is of special importance because so very extensively used by the Church in the liturgy. The word psalm also is from the Greek. Its original meaning was the striking of notes on a musical instrument. Later it came to mean a song or poem set to music, and finally its meaning was restricted to the sacred songs or hymns of the Old Testament. The Psalms, therefore, are inspired hymns, i.e. inspired prayers in poetic form. The Book of (one hundred and fifty) Psalms is called the Psalter. The word at first denoted the stringed instrument resembling a harp on which the psalm was played. * DIDACTIC because they teach; SAPIENTIAL because they contain precepts and maxims of wisdom.
CONCLUSION.1. The Bible itself speaks of "the comfort of the Scriptures" (Romans 15, 4). The reading of the Bible in a spirit of faith and humility is an excellent and a practical and a pleasant exercise of piety. But as every good gift of God can be misused, so, too, can the Scriptures. The Church has made just and reasonable laws to protect the Sacred Books from misuse, and to guide us in reading them. 2. We must read the Scriptures from a Catholic edition of them, guaranteed as such by the Ordinary. Such an edition, either of the New Testament separately, or of the whole Bible, can be obtained easily and at a modest price. 3. The reading of the Scriptures is good and praiseworthy and eminently desirable. Our advocacy of the reading of the Bible differs, however, from that of non-Catholics. The Bible is one source of Divine Revelation; Apostolic Tradition is another. The infallible teaching of the Catholic Church makes known to us the doctrines of our faith from these two sources. The reading of the Bible, therefore, is not necessary to salvation; it is an aid: and a powerful aid. Guided by these very reasonable principles every Catholic who can read may and should draw great spiritual and intellectual profit from THE READING OF THE SCRIPTURES. ********