Tag Archive for 'Psalms'

Book Review: A Commentary on the Psalms Vol. 3 by Allen Ross

Commentary on Psalms by Ross Vol 3A Commentary On The Psalms, Volume 3: (90-150) by Allen P. Ross

Stay tuned for quotes from the commentary on this blog.

You can read the reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 here on the blog.

I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge, as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s, but it’s also not for new Christians. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting. In fact, he answers some questions I didn’t know I had.

Volume 3 is longer than the other two, coming in at over 1000 pages. It covers books IV and V of the Psalter. Like Volume 2, this doesn’t have the excellent introduction that’s in Volume 1. There is an Index of Hebrew Word Studies and a very extensive bibliography at the end, which the other two don’t have. Volume 3 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1 and 2, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn’t have a dust jacket, which I like.

The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction, which includes Text and Textual Variants, and also includes the author’s own translation along with plenty of footnotes on words, phrases, and comparisons to the Hebrew version. This is very educational, and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author’s translation. To me it’s like a bonus, since I enjoy comparing translations.

Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups of verses. He will spend as much or little time on a verse as warranted. He doesn’t pick out little things on simple words if the meaning is obvious. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis’ philosophy in not using big words when he doesn’t have to. A good commentator doesn’t need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it.

Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn’t a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he’s quoting instead of the book you bought.

He treats Psalm 119 with special care, which is something I was very glad to see. He has a longer introduction to this chapter than others, and defends its literary integrity and value.

His knowledge of Hebrew is very beneficial, especially because he explains it in a way that anyone can understand. For example, he mentions that there are eight words for the law. That’s why translations use words like precepts, word, statutes, commands, etc. He also often uncovers what a word would be if it were translated literally, like the Hebrew word for “kidneys”, which “is used commonly for the internal emotional being, the soul or spirit”. (Psalm 139:13) This is just one reason why there’s no such thing as a literal translation, but that’s a different story.

I’m not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. (Here is a good one on Amazon.) He seems very objective and doesn’t insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.

If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people. Like his commentary on Genesis, it’s nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It’s not cheap and doesn’t come in Kindle format.

If the publisher wouldn’t have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.

Spurgeon on Psalm 116:8

I often miss the spiritual meaning in Scripture. Death here can refer to that, possibly in addition to also being delivered from human enemies. I see it more readily now than I used to. Reading commentaries has helped me a lot with this.

I had a great time reading the first half of Psalm 116 today, which is one of my favorites. At least I thought it was, because I had the title highlighted. But in the past the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened up my eyes to nearly the amount of things I learned today. I spent some time looking at dead white guy commentaries, and this is one of the many gems I found.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” [Psalm 116:8] The triune God has given us a trinity of deliverances: our life has been spared from the grave, our heart has been uplifted from its griefs, and our course in life has been preserved from dishonour. We ought not to be satisfied unless we are conscious of all three of these deliverances. If our soul has been saved from death, why do we weep? What cause for sorrow remains? Whence those tears? And if our tears have been wiped away, can we endure to fall again into sin? Let us not rest unless with steady feet we pursue the path of the upright, escaping every snare and shunning every stumblingblock. Salvation, joy, and holiness must go together, and they are all provided for us in the covenant of grace. Death is vanquished, tears are dried, and fears are banished when the Lord is near.

–C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Scripture Enlightening Scripture – Fear of the Lord and Wisdom

Reading and meditating on Psalm 111, which contains verse 10a:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

may help with learning more about Proverbs 9:10, which says the same thing, along with Job 28:28. Without acknowledging, praising Him for and obeying the things written there, we will not acquire wisdom.

The fear of the Lord, including reverencing him for his spectacular works and righteous character, is the beginning–being both the foundation, and the principal or chief–of wisdom (Henry Smith–paraphrased).

C.H. Spurgeon, who wrote The Treasury of David, in the introduction to this Psalm, writes:

Many are ignorant of what their Creator has done, and hence they are foolish in heart, and silent as to the praises of God: this evil can only be removed by a remembrance of God’s works, and a diligent study of them; to this, therefore, the psalm is meant to arouse us.

Matthew Henry comments on this verse in Psalms:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is not only reasonable that we should fear God, because his name is reverend and his nature is holy, but it is advantageous to us. It is wisdom; it will direct us to speak and act as becomes us, in a consistency with ourselves, and for our own benefit. It is the head of wisdom, that is (as we read it), it is the beginning of wisdom. Men can never begin to be wise till they begin to fear God; all true wisdom takes its rise from true religion, and has its foundation in it. Or, as some understand it, it is the chief wisdom, and the most excellent, the first in dignity. It is the principal wisdom, and the principal of wisdom, to worship God and give honour to him as our Father and Master. Those manage well who always act under the government of his holy fear.

Keil and Delitzsch:

The fear of Jahve, this holy and terrible God, is the beginning of wisdom – the motto of the Chokma in Job (Job 28:28) and Proverbs (Pro 1:7; Pro 9:10), the Books of the Chokma. Psalm 111:10 goes on in this Proverbs-like strain: the fear of God, which manifests itself in obedience, is to those who practise them (the divine precepts, פקודים) שֶׂכֶל טֹּוב (Pro 13:15; Pro 3:4, cf. 2 Chr 30:22), a fine sagacity, praiseworthy discernment – such a (dutiful) one partakes of everlasting praise.

After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Lord gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

Notes on ‘Seeking the Face of God’ and Psalms

Earlier I wrote a post about how I started using Evernote to get more out of the books I read. I would like to write about my first time using Evernote in this way, although I had been previously using it for many other things. The most important thing is what I’m learning about Psalms after reading Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The book of Psalms, or certain aspects of it, has always been sort of an enigma for me (if an enigma can be sort of). Anything having to do with the law, wisdom, creation and praising and thanking God is pretty straight forward. Confession and lament would be similar. I also don’t have much of a problem with the imprecatory Psalms, where David asks God to do some pretty horrible things to his enemies. While we shouldn’t take these things lightly–and they should bother us–God hates evil more than we can imagine and will exact revenge on his enemies whether in this life or at the end, which is not a problem for me. David knows who those enemies are and what they’ve done. Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan is good reading on that.

What I don’t know what to do with is all of the things about enemies and evil. I don’t know how we should connect this to our contemporary lives. Are our problems our enemies? Sickness, evil in the world, our own bad thoughts? That may be the wrong way of going about it, at least primarily.

The Main Thing

The main thing I learned from the book is that David and other Psalmists teach us how we should deal with our souls when we find ourselves in a similar state of mind and position, instead of (only) trying to apply the circumstances of the Psalmists’ to ourselves or contemporary life. (paraphrase – pg 100)

Narrowing it down, I was also praising God for always knowing us and what’s going on in our lives and thinking about this, and realized that these Psalms are largely teaching us how to honestly turn to God when we are afraid or are in situations that truly warrant fear. The Psalms are there to teach us how to sincerely worship, confess, lament, praise, thank, express joy and sorrow; nowadays we seem to make so little use out of them in that way.

Main Thing #2

The other main thing I got from the book is: limiting God.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
Psalm 78:41 KJV

“In their unbelief and in their failure to receive His promises and to believe and act on them, they stood between themselves and the many blessings that God had offered them and promised them so freely.” pg 80

“Are we individually enjoying the blessings of the Christian life as we should? What do we find as we look back and review the past year? We have attended the house of God, we have read the Scriptures, but how much of this have we appropriated? To what extent are we enjoying all that God has offered us so freely?” pg 81

If we don’t ‘listen’ to God, we can limit Him. (Listening — reading Scripture, meditating on it, letting God open our eyes)

I worship God best by reading. I really do enjoy the blessings of God and am thankful for what he does, as difficult as life is. I really do appropriate the theology that I learn, as far as I know. But if I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, looking at reviews of books I’m not going to read, researching stuff I’m not going to buy in the near future, reading articles that have no bearing on my life, watching too many YouTube videos–and not spending much time reading, taking refuge in God, and even blogging, I’m limiting God and short changing myself.

Those were the main things, which brought new life to many of the Psalms, but I still need a lot of help from the Holy Spirit and want to learn and appreciate them more each time I read through them.

Below are other random notes I took and quotes I saved.

I notice how well he explains things. You just have to read him to know. He apologetically uses modern analogies, because he likes to stick to Scripture and use stories in Scripture as illustrations as much as possible.

We Are Pilgrims

He says that Christians know that “we seek the city to come” (Hebrews 13:14) and shouldn’t see this world as our home. We should know that things of this world can’t truly satisfy, and when bad things happen, it shouldn’t seem like such an unusual thing. And if we get through it, that “we made it!” and now we’re safe and can live happily ever after (my words). There will be trouble (John 16:33). If someone has seen anything of God’s glory, “There is nothing that is of any value in contrast with this, and nothing that I may receive from the whole universe is of any value compared with it.” pg 112 (see 1 Peter 2:11-12)

Religion

“Religion, finally, is a question of knowing God. It is not primarily a matter of living, nor is it just a question of a good life or of doing good. No; the essence of religion is to know God.” pg 44
“the whole of true religion, is to know God.”
“True religion is not just a matter of morality. That is included, but to make it that the end of religion is to rob it of its central glory.” pg 61-62 – religion isn’t a dirty word yet (1950s)

Biographies

“There is nothing that I know of, next to reading the Scriptures themselves, that is more profitable in the Christian life than a careful, constant reading and study of Christian biography. And, of course, the book of Psalms is preeminent in that very respect.” pg 140 – I never would have thought of Psalms as biography
“Christian biography proves abundantly that the people who have had the most gracious and the most frequent visitations from the God have been those who have sought Him most diligently.” pg 145
I have heard John Piper say the same thing.

Scripture

There are many ways of doing this [setting the Lord always before us-Psalm 16:8], but none is more important than the Word, the Bible. God has revealed Himself to us there; so as we read it, we obtain knowledge about God. He is speaking to us through the Word about Himself and about ourselves, so that the more we know it and read it, the more it will take us into the presence of God. So if you want to set the Lord always before you, spend much time in regular, daily reading of the Bible. And let it be systematic reading, not just picking it up at random and turning to a favorite psalm and then to somewhere in the Gospels. No; it must be Genesis to Revelation! Go through the Book year by year. I think any Christian should be ashamed who does not go through the entire Bible once a year. Go through it systematically. Many schemes have been designed and can be purchased that will tell you how to do this and will help you do so. Or if you like, you can work one out for yourself as I once did. But whatever you do, insist upon it. God’s Word speaks to you—listen to Him, and you will come into His presence. Set Him before you by reading the Bible. You can do this also in prayer—talking to God and listening to Him.

Adversity

“The true Christian is always driven by adversity to God.” pg 102
“Christians not only instinctively turn to God in this way at such a time, but they feel that they have a right to do so.” pg 102 (rightly so)
“Each Psalmist is not a man writing theoretically about life. It is generally someone who, having passed through some experience that tried and tested him, has again discovered the way of success and triumph. So he wants to celebrate that and to pass the information to others.” Let’s use them.

Prayer

Do you praise God? When you are on your knees alone, do you just say your prayers mechanically, or do you truly praise Him? Do you trace His providence and grace? Do you “count your blessings and name them one by one”? And does your heart well up within you and pour itself out in praise and thanksgiving? Only after he has done all that does the psalmist take his petitions to God: “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me…. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation…. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty” (Psalm 27:7, 9, 12).

Once more, have you understood this strategy of prayer? This is the way to pray. The apostle Paul has said it all, as we have seen, in Philippians 4:6: “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing”—or in all circumstances—”by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” There it is: You start with adoration, wonder, and amazement. You gaze upon Him and all His glorious attributes—what He has been, what He has done for us, and all the wonders of His work. You trace them out, you praise Him, and then, knowing Him, you bring your petitions to Him, whatever they may be.

Then the psalmist says, having done all that, wait for the answer. Everything does not finish the moment you have uttered your petition. “Wait on the LORD. (Ps. 27:14, emphasis added).

Intimacy With God

“It is David’s greatest desire to feel the presence of God, to know that He is with him and that He is looking down on him.” pg 105 – despite his circumstances, he’s longing for the presence of God
“The desire for an intimate knowledge of God the Father is the biggest and the most important thing in their lives; it is of greater importance to them than anything else whatsoever, and therefore they are more concerned about it than anything else.” pg 105
“It is something that God does to you, something that he gives you.”
“The secret of life is to gaze upon the glory of God. It should be our supreme ambition and greatest desire.” Reading [Gazing Upon] The Glory of Christ by John Owen is a great help in doing this, as far as extra-biblical books.

The Olympics – Rambling

Rambling isn’t an Olympic sport. It’s just what I’m doing right now.

I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. It’s like the Super Bowl for two weeks. Things are different now. I know this may sound like whining to some, or attention seeking, or talking about how I’m special. I’m not special, although I may be whining. It’s difficult to watch because with chronic fatigue, it can be hard to see all of these people who are healthy and have great energy. I’m not jealous; I’m truly happy for them. I’ve always been a “body watcher” (I hope that doesn’t sound weird), being so into fitness, and for decades, weight training, and it’s nice to see so many fit people in one place.

Having chronic back pain, it’s difficult seeing figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, a Russian Olympic gold medal hopeful, who developed severe back pain, have an artificial disc put in-between two vertebrae and can now perform again. For me it was first a surgery to repair a herniated disc, which allowed me to stand up straight, but my pain kept increasing. Later came a fusion, which also didn’t work. Now a pain pump, which also doesn’t work as well as hoped (the goal is to relieve at least 50% of the pain).

However, since I started writing this post, you may have seen that his back completely gave out and he had to withdraw. I will write another post on the subject of loss, which is also hard to watch, along with Psalm 42.

Outside the Olympics, Peyton Manning kept having back surgeries (four) until they got it right. I had my one fusion, it didn’t work, and that’s it. I’m really glad Peyton Manning is able to keep on playing–better than ever. Career ending injuries are sad to see, especially right when they happen, like when Bo Jackson injured his hip. Who knows what he could have become, among so many others. Bo knows hurt.

Right now, I’m frustrated. I don’t know if frustrated is the right word. Angry sounds too strong. I can’t think of a better one. I’m reading through the Psalms, and David and other psalmists get a little miffed now and then too, wondering what’s going on. But they always go back to thanking and praising God for what He’ll do and for who He is. I’m finding in times like this, that takes discipline.

My wife has a book called 31 Days of Praise. When she had a couple of big trials, she decided to praise God continually. That got her through it. That took discipline. I admire her for that.

I feel like I’m just learning how to “set my mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1).” It’s a different kind of discipline than physical exercise or regular spiritual disciplines. I’ve always liked doing those things, so I don’t really need discipline to do them. Thanking and praising God when I’m just mad and really down takes discipline. We need to choose to do it. God compels us through his Spirit if we live by it, and rewards us, but we still need to strive. It’s a different type of spiritual exercise. I don’t like it.

One thing I can to be thankful for is that I’m able do a little bit of some specially tailored weight training again now and have been able to improve. I’m back on the couch afterwards, but I can do something. It’s easy to compare myself to others, which I shouldn’t be doing. I shouldn’t even compare myself to myself–what I used to be able to do. I just have to workout smart, and be glad for any progress. But when I see Olympic athletes doing all kinds of stuff, it makes it difficult not to compare and wish I could just be healthy mentally and physically.

Reading the Psalms has come at a good time. God is good. God is a great teacher. Athletes may have great specialists to help them with everything they could need for their sport, but we have the beyond perfect God, who lives in us permanently to take us through life beyond the grave. I’m learning how to state my displeasure–lament, and to confess the ways that I’m sinning in my attitude, and then praise him for who he is, and thank God for what he has done and is doing. Then I can ask Him to help me, most importantly to be conformed to Christ. I do pray for healing now and then, but after decades of dealing with some things, I pray for coping, and spiritual things that I know are in God’s will (Ephesians 3:16-21 for example–see Complete List of Paul's Prayers). I know that difficulties are supposed to help us to long for heaven–our home–but I don’t seem to lack in that area. I would like to experience more hope for heaven in the present.

In a previous post on preparing for suffering, I included a quote by C.S. Lewis about “engaging in mental/theological exercises” and having a sound view of God. Another thing we can do it to constantly thank and praise God. The more we are bent towards God by praising Him as we think about Him and pray, and the more we thank God for things he does in our lives, the more likely we are to do that when trials come along. Memorizing and reciting Colossians 1:11-12 (along with :9-20 for good measure) has been very helpful in smaller trials. “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (NRSV) Being saved is of so much more importance than whatever is happening to us.

I have so much to be thankful for, and God is still showing me more ways to praise him. There is no lack when it comes to those things.

The LORD is my shepherd.
I am never in need.
Psalm 23:1 GW

Always be joyful.
Never stop praying.
Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 GW

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

(Emphasis added)

Also see:
Tragic Worship | First Things by Carl R. Trueman

Psalms and Playing the Criminal

Do not be preoccupied with evildoers.
Do not envy those who do wicked things.
Psalm 37:1

This includes living vicariously through criminal characters in certain video games.

Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer
who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
Psalm 37:3b, 7b

Why practice being wicked by getting farther in a game?

The way of wicked people is disgusting to the LORD,
but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
Proverbs 15:9

grand-theft-auto

This post is for Christians. A few years ago my eyes were opened up to how many play these types of games. I mostly want to let Scripture speak for itself.

Quote of the Day: Spurgeon on Psalm 94

How long, Lord, will the wicked,how long will the wicked be jubilant?
Psalm 94:3

The sound “how long?” is very akin to howling, as if it were one of the saddest of all the utterances in which misery bemoans itself. Many a time has this bitter complaint been heard in the dungeons of the Inquisition, at the whipping posts of slavery, and in the prisons of oppression. In due time God will publish his reply, but the full end is not yet.

-C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:18-19

Quote of the Day: Footprints

As the brook hides the footprints which are imprinted on its soft ooze, so are God’s footprints hidden. We cannot detect his great and wonderful secrets. He marches through the ages with steps we cannot track.

–F. B. Meyer, as seen in The One Year Book of Psalms on Psalm 77

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
Psalm 77:19

I prefer this type of quote to the Footprints In The Sand poem. I went to a site of someone claiming to be the author (which is still in dispute, apparently), just to take a look at the poem and was very disappointed to find out it’s mainly about the author’s fight for getting the copyright. I was hoping to find out about the author’s life as a Christian, but that didn’t seem to be an important enough to even mention. It’s interesting how the popular bits of “Christian” culture like this and the Prayer of Jabez can be so vacuous. I’ve heard first hand that the book below–which is a parody in addition to being educational–is excellent.

book-mantra-of-jabez

I’ve read that one possible reason that Christians, or those on the fringe of Christianity often like bad Christian books, is because it impacts them in some significant way (see the Marturo blog). It may be a new way of seeing God, or a feeling of comfort. But when somebody reads The Shack, how likely are they then to keep reading other Christian books, and more importantly, keep wanting to know God better by reading [more] Scripture? In my limited experience, this is not the norm, and it breaks my heart. I’m very thankful that there are those who do go on from there. God uses those deeply flawed media, but those impactful experiences often fall on bad soil. (Matthew 13:3-23)

The latest popular thing was the TV series The Bible. I wonder how much will come out of that, or if it will become a classic? In any case, Jesus sure is good looking! I never realized he was used as the cover model of so many romance novels. And that slightly English accent sounds so theatrical.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Psalm 84:1-2

Scripture of the Day: Thoughts on Psalm 75

Thoughts on reading Psalm 75:

Praise God that he is fair. We may not know exactly how God handles those who have never heard the gospel; how he handles the awful situation of when infants die (John MacArthur has detailed and encouraging thoughts on this), etc. But we know that he will never judge anyone without perfect justice. Nobody will get ripped off because they live in too remote of an area, which is God’s doing anyway, or died too young.

It’s also comforting to know that evil will be punished exactly as it is deserved. God is very angry with evil; he’s not just a judge who meats out punishment and is callous to or unaware of the victims of their hideous deeds. Those who he has made righteous will get infinitely more than we deserve.

“I have set a time for judgment,” says God,
“and I will judge with fairness.
Though every living creature tremble
and the earth itself be shaken,
I will keep its foundations firm.
I tell the wicked not to be arrogant;
I tell them to stop their boasting.”
Judgment does not come from the east or from the west,
from the north or from the south;
it is God who is the judge,
condemning some and acquitting others.
The LORD holds a cup in his hand,
filled with the strong wine of his anger.
He pours it out, and all the wicked drink it;
they drink it down to the last drop.
But I will never stop speaking of the God of Jacob
or singing praises to him.
He will break the power of the wicked,
but the power of the righteous will be increased.
Psalms 75:2-10

Book Review: A Commentary on The Psalms by Allen P. Ross

Kregel Exegetical Library: A Commentary on the Psalms by Allen RossA Commentary on The Psalms, Volume 1: 1-41 by Allen P. Ross

I am a lay person who is a ‘serious (zealous) student of the Bible’, as this blog name suggests. I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of development as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s for example, but it’s also not for beginners. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting at all. In fact, he answers questions I didn’t know I had. It would be a little much for a new Christian, especially the introduction. At nearly 900 pages for volume 1 of 3, it may also look a little intimidating to some. But I like big books.

I find introductions to commentaries extremely helpful. This one is fairly long and extremely informative, and even motivating. One of the most ‘valuable’ parts of the Introduction is The Value of the Psalms. He quotes quite a few people from different time periods, including Calvin, and writes about the importance of the Psalms, how this importance used to be realized, and how the church in general has lost their value and stopped using the Psalms as a model for prayer and use in worship beyond a cursory reading here and there. This has inspired me to spend more time with the Psalms and this is the type of commentary that can be used in sort of a devotional way, for lack of a better term.

There are quite a few subjects dealt with using just the right amount of words, a few of them being Literary Forms, Theology of the Psalms and a guide to Exposition of the Psalms.

Ross is experienced in teaching the exposition of the Psalms in the seminary classroom and expounding them in churches, and has gained a good sense of what needs to be explained in a concise way, which I think shows in this commentary.

As opposed to taking a verse or line from a Psalm for a message (or plaque?) Ross says, “the exposition should cover the entire psalm, and that it should not only explain the text verse-by-verse but also show how the message of the psalm unfolds section-by-section. After all, a psalm is a piece of literature and therefore has a unified theme and a progression of thoughts developing that theme.” He has “not included views down the history of interpretation” but mainly sticks to his own exposition except for various quotes from others used sparingly. This is definitely not a ‘commentary on commentaries’.

Some Hebrew words are shown and explained. There are no transliterations, which aren’t helpful anyway. For those who don’t know the language, he describes the words in a pretty understandable way. Footnotes deal further with Hebrew, Greek (Septuagint) and various English translations.

Each Psalm has his own fairly literal/formal translation along with textual variant issues dealt with in the footnotes. Then Composition and Context, Exegetical Analysis (an outline), Commentary in Expository Form, and Message and Application.

He seems to answer most or all of my questions as mentioned before. Ross explains many of the terms, phrases and Hebrew idioms that people like me can learn from. For pastors it can help in wording explanations. In Psalm 13 for example, Ross explains why it is a lament, how the text shows that the trouble is ongoing, what the significance of an asposiopesis is, and explains what remember means in this context.

I have been given a copy of the book by Kregel Publications for an unbiased review. I’m afraid I sound like it’s not very unbiased because the review is so positive. The only possible negative thing I can find at this point is that the typeface is a little on the large size for me, although half the people reading this would appreciate that. A bit smaller and the book wouldn’t be so large and wouldn’t have as much of a “rudimentary” look, because it’s not. The quality of the paper is very good and the cover design bound to the hard cover (no need for a silly dust jacket) is very classy.

I think this commentary would be valuable for nearly anyone. I would only rule out new Christians as mentioned before because they might get lost with many of the theological terms and subjects, especially in the introduction, even though it isn’t at a high academic or technical level. For those who are motivated though, I’m sure they would benefit in some way and it would be a good investment for the future.

Ross mentions that volume 3 will have an extensive bibliography and writes about how important it is to have more than one source. He emphasized that this isn’t the only commentary one should own. If I can afford it, I would like to acquire the other volumes. I haven’t gotten word yet when the they may be arriving, but if I find out, I’ll let you know. (See Vol. 2 and 3 of A Commentary on the Psalms by Ross for an update.)

Excerpt at Christianbook.com

Publisher: Kregel Academic & Professional (February 29, 2012)
Hardcover: 928 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2562-2

Buy it at:

Substantial Reviews:

 

 

Lament

One of the most prominent themes in the Psalms is lament.

–Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on The Psalms, pg. 111

One of the most common themes in many contemporary worship gatherings is–HAPPY.

Eugene Peterson thus comments that the Psalms are where Christians have always learned to pray–till our age!

–John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg. 22

The church is missing one of its richest experiences if it ignores the Book of Psalms or relegates it to a routine reading in a service without any explanation.

–Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on The Psalms, pg. 29

But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular, in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and of the many vices with which we abound, may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy

–John Calvin, Commentary on the Book Psalms pg. xxxvii

It seems that many would rather be concealed and unrevealed, with their innermost undiscovered, clothed in a mask of contentment.

My attempt at poetry which I’ll leave unexposited.

Look for a review of the commentary by Ross very soon.

Photo © Jeff at Scripture Zealot

Delighting and Meditating on God’s Words

We measure Scripture’s story by ours. The attitude the psalm [Psalm 1] commends involves delighting in Yhwh’s teaching—especially (we might add) when its story seems irrelevant or it takes a different stance from us. That is the moment when studying Scripture becomes interesting, significant, and important. We then delight in it. The way that delight expresses itself is by *talking about it day and night–in other words, ceaselessly.

John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg 84, referring to Psalm 1

I will say this without trying to sound prideful of myself but I can boast about what God has done (Jeremiah 9:24). Often, parts of the Old Testament can be difficult to get through. Most people don’t read most of it. Last year when I read through the Old Testament I had an attitude of marvel at the fact that I was reading the inspired words of the living, all powerful, holy God who created the heavens and the earth, and me. All of the words are from Him! I didn’t care if it was a list of genealogy (which commentators can help us see the value of), or repetition, or whatever. I was fascinated with it all and of course the God who had it written down for us and is always speaking through it.

I’ve always liked/loved reading the Bible. But this is a new level that God has brought me to. And to me it’s obvious that this is only something God could have brought about, compared to how I used to view the Old Testament. Not that I loathed parts of it or anything, I just wasn’t thrilled with all of it. I would hope that everyone who doesn’t yet delight in God’s words, teachings, commands, and even conviction of sin (which is God speaking directly to us as an individual–a bonus, just as a revelation or light going off when thinking on or reading Scripture), will pray that they would. This is God’s will. It may be there from the start (oh blessed ones), or take weeks, months, years or decades. But if you pray for it, want it and read the whole Bible regularly, it will happen. Now may be a good time to think about reading the whole Bible if you haven’t.

Goldingay’s translation of Psalm 1:2:

Rather, his pleasure lies in Yhwh’s teaching:
he talks about his teaching day and night.

I’ve been realizing that when the Psalmists write about meditating on God’s laws, especially in Psalm 119, they aren’t always referring to formal, ‘sit down and concentrate with your notebook’ meditation. That’s great of course, but I think their main intention is thinking about God’s words all day. Goldingay says that this means something we talk to ourselves about, sometimes out loud, thus his translation above, which is usually rendered in other translations “on his law he meditates day and night”. God’s Word Translation (GW), interestingly renders it “reflects on his teachings day and night”. I don’t think it needs to be as formal as many of us have been taught.

Psalm 119:97 GW
Oh, how I love your teachings! They are in my thoughts all day long.

It would be impossible to sit down and meditate on God’s teachings all day long everyday, which is what my literal mindedness used to believe. But just like praying ceaselessly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), it’s something we can do every chance we get, as opposed to 100% of the time. This only comes about when it’s something we love and care about and when we spend time reading or listening to something that gives us something we want to think and pray about.

Psalm 86:11 GW
Teach me your way, O LORD, so that I may live in your truth. Focus my heart on fearing you.

Thank you to the vegetable growing pastor down under for this commentary.

Verse of the Day: Psalm 46:10

The NIV says, “Be still and know that I am God” which has led some to believe this verse is about quiet, contemplative prayer.

It’s more likely in this verse that God is telling us to be quiet and quit fretting about all that’s going on in the world (easier said than done) and know that God is the ruler and will be glorified and exalted in all that is happening. So important in difficult times.

Spurgeon says in his Treasury of David:

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Hold off your hands, ye enemies! Sit down and wait in patience, ye believers! Acknowledge that Jehovah is God, ye who feel the terrors of his wrath! Adore him, and him only, ye who partake in the protections of his grace. Since none can worthily proclaim his nature, let “expressive silence muse his praise.” The boasts of the ungodly and the timorous forebodings of the saints should certainly be hushed by a sight of what the Lord has done in past ages.

I love the term timorous forebodings, which is what we hear and read about a lot these days (and apparently in Spurgeon’s day too!) when there are so many books, sermons by spurious pastors and articles on ‘headline prophecy’ (trying to match current events with Bible prophecy), the impending doom that is always being predicted, etc. Not that impending doom isn’t upon us, we just can’t predict it, or anything else that may or may not happen.

I bring this up mainly because I read this in my two favorite translations and like how they put it:

Psalm 46:10 GW
Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.
I rule the nations. I rule the earth.

Psalm 46:10 REB
‘Let be then; learn that I am God,
exalted in the nations, exalted in the earth.’

Read the whole Psalm to see the context. The idea of the beginning of this single verse needs to be balanced with others and not misunderstood to the other extreme of course.

If any Hebrew geeks or anyone else want to chime in, feel free.

Luke 12:29-34 GW
“Don’t concern yourself about what you will eat or drink, and quit worrying about these things. 30 Everyone in the world is concerned about these things, but your Father knows you need them. 31 Rather, be concerned about his kingdom. Then these things will be provided for you.

32 Don’t be afraid, little flock. Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 “Sell your material possessions, and give the money to the poor. Make yourselves wallets that don’t wear out! Make a treasure for yourselves in heaven that never loses its value! In heaven thieves and moths can’t get close enough to destroy your treasure.

34 Your heart will be where your treasure is.

Learned and Learning God’s Teachings

God opens our eyes to see the wonderful things in His teachings. The Psalmist has worked to learn and obey God’s law’s. (Memorization is a given.) It’s God that does the teaching. The Psalmist wants to keep learning. God will keep teaching. A joyful lifelong cycle.

I love this Psalm more every time I read it.

Psalm 119:18 GW
Uncover my eyes
so that I may see the miraculous things in your teachings.

Psalm 119:11-13 NET
In my heart I store up your words,
so I might not sin against you.
12 You deserve praise, O LORD!
Teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I proclaim
all the regulations you have revealed.

Psalm 119:33 GW
Teach me, O LORD, how to live by your laws,
and I will obey them to the end.

Psalm 119:60 GW
Without any hesitation
I hurry to obey your commandments.

Psalm 119:64 GW
Your mercy, O LORD, fills the earth.
Teach me your laws.

Psalm 119:111 GW
Your written instructions are mine forever.
They are the joy of my heart.

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 112 and Fear

Psalm 112:1, 7 NLT
1 Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD
and delight in obeying his commands.
7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.