“To the venerable lord, Fredrick, Abbot of Saint Giles of Nuremberg, my gracious lord and patron. Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Savior!
My venerable and dear lord and patron:
While I should like to show my gratitude to you for your love and favor to me, I am, by earthly standards, a beggar. Besides, even if I had much, there is nothing special I could do for you in your position.
And so I turned to my wealth, which I treasure so much, and took up my beloved Psalm, the beautiful Confitemini (i.e. Psalm 118), putting down on paper the thoughts which came to me.
I am quite idle here in the wilderness. And yet, in order to spare my head, I need to pause and rest occasionally in the hard work that I hope to complete soon, the translation of the Old Testament prophets into German.
These thoughts of mine I decided to send you as a gift. I have nothing better. Though some may consider this a lot of useless drivel, I know it contains nothing evil or unchristian.
This is my own beloved Psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially.
Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this Psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles.
As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the Pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this Psalm for all of it.
But lest anyone, knowing that this Psalm belongs to the whole world, raise his eyebrow at my claim that this Psalm is mine, may he be assured that no one is being robbed. After all, Christ is mine, and yet He belongs to all believers.
I will not be jealous but will gladly share what is mine. Would to God all the world would claim this Psalm for its own, as I do! Peace and love could not compare with such a friendly quarrel.
Sad to say, there are few, even among those who should do better, who honestly say even once in their lifetime to Scripture or to one of the Psalms: ‘You are my beloved Book! You must be my very own Psalm!’
The neglect of Scripture, even by spiritual leaders, is one of the greatest evils in the world. Everything else, arts or literature, is pursued and practiced day and night, and there is no end of labor and effort.
But Holy Scripture is neglected as though there were no need of it. Those who condescend to read it want to absorb everything at once.
There has never been an art or a book on earth that everyone has so quickly mastered as the Holy Scriptures!? But its words are not, as some think, mere literature. They are words of life, intended not for speculation and fantasy but for life and action.
But why complain? No one pays any attention to our lament.
May Christ our Lord help us by His Spirit to love and honor His holy Word with all our hearts. Amen.
I commit myself to your prayer.
Out of the desert,
July 1, 1530
–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 45–46. This passage is from the preface to Luther’s exposition of Psalm 118, his “beloved Psalm.”