The Bible is readable as it stands, but there is much breadth and depth to studying it, and studying it deeply, gleaning knowledge from scholars who study the original culture and language, especially in the Psalms, which is diverse with songs of both praise and lament. In Psalm 13 when the psalmist cries out, “will you forget me forever?”, is he accusing God of not being aware or not paying attention to his circumstances? The connotations of what it means for God to “remember” is not that He suddenly realized what was going on, but that He finally is visibly acting. Scholars can help us to see beyond our milieu to a different perspective of understanding.
Psalms is both simple and difficult. Some of the psalms seem contradictory to what Jesus taught us to be like. Demands for justice and for destruction of our enemies flies against Jesus’ teachings of praying for our enemies and to go the extra mile. But the psalms express the full range of God’s love in all seasons of the soul – in times of joy as well as times of pain. They are filled with the faithful voices of the people of God in response to His saving history as they petition for His justice and praise His faithfulness. They give us permission to lament, and enables us to meet with God in a special encounter. In our silence and pain, God waits for us to turn to Him for comfort and restoration.
Scholars can help us see the richness of the Psalms. The Psalms, Language for All Seasons of the Soul, is a collection of 19 papers from the Evangelical Theological Society’s Psalms and Hebrew Poetry Consultation written by seasoned Psalms scholars. It’s not as dry as it sounds! While it is scholarly, it is readable and enlightening as well as practical. The book accomplishes its purpose of celebrating the impact the Psalms has had throughout history to the 21st century with an emphasis on insights into current studies and application in today’s world.
The book is divided into five sections, but the longest one on the lament, expressions of sorrow and pain, was my favorite as it provided insight to who God is and what He is like in the midst of it all. It inspired me to pray my emotions, to pray honestly and boldly, to join with other believers throughout history who have struggled to make sense of life while developing a fuller understanding of faith.
I spent months devouring the words of this book and will undoubtedly return to this treasure again and again for deeper understanding. It is rich with keys to interpretation and analysis. This book is a great tool for those who love to study Scripture and teach. I highly recommend this book for pastors, professors, seminary students, and anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the Psalms.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Moody Press in exchange for my honest review.