Exploring Psalm 139 through the Jungian lenses of sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking
Psalm 139 provides both great opportunities and huge challenges for the preacher. It is a Psalm crafted in four parts: part two is an imaginative and poetic affirmation of God’s omnipresence that engages the Jungian perceiving process; part four is a fierce and uncompromising diatribe against God’s enemies that engages the Jungian judging process. Interpretations of these two sections of the Psalm are explored among a sample of 30 Anglican deacons and priests serving as curates who were invited to work in small hermeneutical communities, structured according to psychological type theory and designed to test the sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking (SIFT) approach to biblical hermeneutics and liturgical preaching. The findings from the hermeneutical communities demonstrated that the poetic power of part two was perceived quite differently by sensing types and by intuitive types. The judgement against God’s enemies in part four was evaluated quite differently by feeling types and by thinking types. The implications of these different readings of sacred text are discussed in relation both to hermeneutical theory and to homiletic practice.