It is turning out to be a stellar year for books on the Psalms. Even N.T. Wright is readying a book on the Psalms! Multiple houses have published books in recent months, and this blog post gives a brief description of the best of the pack. Finally, all of this is happening just in time to prepare us for Eerdmans’ publication–this fall– of Psalms in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament [NICOT]. Wherever you are in your Christian life–whether you are joy-filled, hurting, or just wanting to learn more–you’re likely to find what you are looking for among these recently published books.
1. Deeper Places
Deeper Places: Experiencing God in the Psalms takes a sort of mystical approach to the Psalms and intentionally challenges readings of the Psalms that lock them in a rigid intellectualism. While not eschewing a thoughtful approach to the Psalms, Matthew Jacoby does want us to rediscover worship and prayer in light of reasoned engagement with the Psalms. Jacoby has been studying the Psalms and setting them to music as they were intended throughout his pastoral career, and here he gives us an in-depth look at the Psalms as a pathway to an intimate and satisfying relationship with God.
2. A Journey to Joy
A Journey to Joy by pastor-scholar Josh Moody looks at the Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120-134. Modern society instructs to turn inward in order to find happiness, but Moody believes these Psalms reflect a different teaching. He believes they assert that happiness cannot be found in circumstance; the ups and downs, demands and even joys of everyday life. Rather, Moody puts forth the thesis–that remains as radical and true as it ever has in the past–that true happiness, deep abiding joy comes from trust in God and in his faithfulness–as the Psalmists so poetically show for us in their writing. Read an extended exerpt!
3. The Lord of the Psalms
In The Lord of the Psalms prolific scholar Patrick Miller Miller explores what the Psalms can teach us about God, our relationship to God, and what God wants for us. He tackles over a dozen of the most beloved psalms that explore themes of God’s existence; creation and redemption; praise and thanksgiving; and grace, mercy, and justice. He approaches the material in various ways, sometimes focusing on what a particular psalm can tell us, other times examining one theme that flows through several psalms.
4. Invitation to the Psalms
Invitation to the Psalms: A Reader’s Guide for Discovery and Engagement asks students to explore and roam widely among the grandeur and beauty of the Psalms. This book introduces the dynamics of the biblical text, helping students become careful and attentive readers, demonstrates how to read Hebrew poetry correctly, explains the Psalter’s basic genres, the concept of “the psalmist,” the metaphorical world of the Psalms, and the theology of the Psalms. If you are someone who simply cannot resist the beauty and intimacy of the Psalms, then this book is for you. Read an extended excerpt!
5. Hurting with God
In Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms scholar Glenn Pemberton draws from his own daily struggle with chronic pain and years of reading and teaching the Psalms in order to lead readers on a quest to recover a lost ancient resource for people of faith–the language of lament. The book of Psalms brings out the reality and presence of lament in the lives of ancient people–indeed laments make up a full third of the Psalter. Through the exploration and study of imagery and language, Pemberton revitalizes this forgotten tool to rejuvenate those who seek to connect with God in times of struggle, and to justify the healthy reality of lamenting.
6. Psalms for Everyone
Psalms for Everyone, Volume 1 covers the first 72 psalms and focuses on the way the authors speak about God and how this impacts us today in our everyday lives as well in our individual and corporate worship. This book is part of the For Everyone commentary series that will cover every biblical book and is written by John Goldingay (OT) and N.T. Wright (NT).
7. Psalms: A Guide to Studying the Psalter
Psalms: A Guide to Studying the Psalter written by W.H. Bellinger, a leading authority on the Psalms, presents a new edition of an already successful book. Bellinger takes account of the latest developments in Psalms studies and presents a nuanced approach to study of this ancient poetry that is both accessible and concise. Not only will students of the Psalms appreciate these studies, but church leaders and those teaching in churches will gain new insight from this classic text.
8. Psalms as Torah
Psalms as Torah: Reading Biblical Song Ethically by Gordon Wenham is more of a strictly academic work, but its appeal may be quite broad. It examines the source of the Psalms’ power, reflects on their main ethical themes, and shows how they function as prayers that change us. Wenham makes an important contribution to biblical scholarship and breaks new ground in discussions of Old Testament ethics, yet he writes accessibly, making this book invaluable for students in Old Testament/ethics courses, scholars, and pastors.