Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko

Ask most Christians if they have read the Psalms, they will answer, “Of course.” Many will even claim it to be their favorite book of the Bible, or a place of refuge in emotional struggle. Often if pressed, however, the truth revealed is that we have certain favorite Psalms to which we turn, repeatedly, but the book in its entirety is a mystery to us. One of the interesting things to remember about Psalms is that the order in which the psalms appear, and the headings of authorship and timing are all inspired. While God certainly intend that we read and sing individual psalms, he also intended that they be encountered in a specific order, and as a complete unit.

J.V. Fesko makes this point in Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1-8, and then walks through the first eight Psalms in an effort to encourage our further exploration of this wonderful book. Fesko operates on two theological premises. The first is that all of the psalms are about Christ and the second is that the psalms should not only be read, but also sung. In light of the second, he includes a metrical version of the Psalm in the study at the end of each chapter which he has selected from a variety of available Psalters. Having been introduced fairly recently to the practice of metrical Psalter singing, I think this idea of singing a psalm after having studied it would be a great way to re-introduce the practice to a contemporary church who has lost it.

Fesko’s studies of the psalms in question are both Christocentric, and rooted in the history from which the Psalm written. This is not a study of the form of Hebrew poetry or the literary qualities of the passages. These are moving exegetical studies that show us that the Psalms aren’t the biblical equivalent of pulling a security blanket over our heads.

I reviewed Fesko’s work  Christ and the Desert Tabernacle two years ago, and having now read this one, I am eager to read more of his books. He has the rare gift of being both pastoral and academic and he manages to help us find Christ in parts of scripture we don’t believe he can be found.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a paperback edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one.


Book Review: Biblical Portraits of Creation by Walter C. Kaiser

I am behind on my book reviews. Apologies all around.

First up is Biblical Portraits of Creation: Celebrating the Maker of Heaven and Earth by Walter C. Kaiser. The study of creation is a controversial one and as is the case in controversy we are tempted to become polarized and tilt against the straw men of our perceived enemy rather than seek after truth. Walter Kaiser’s book cuts past that and goes straight to the source of truth: scripture.Biblical Portraits of Creation is an academic study of the whole of scripture. Kaiser digs deep into the text of not only Genesis 1 and 2, but also of wisdom literature, the prophets, and the New Testament to lay out a comprehensive study of what the entire counsel of scripture has to say about Creation. This is not a devotional, nor will you find any elaborate theories of dinosaurs, or diagrams of earth strata. Biblical Portraits of Creation instead explains how the Genesis creation account is foundational to and an interconnected part of the rest of scripture. It is designed, however, to be a study and each chapter ends with questions designed to aid in that pursuit.

Jonathan has been preaching through Genesis in our evening service, and he has said, repeatedly, if you get Genesis, you get the rest of the Bible. Kaiser’s study would be an excellent choice for a Sunday School class, or a small group who want to begin to see how that statement is true and want a chance to dig out the truth through some deep study of their own.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided an electronic copy for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one.

Book Review: Romans 1-7 For You by Timothy Keller

It has been awhile, but I am back in the reviewing game, and I get to start out with another winner from the Good Book company. I have had the pleasure of reviewing Galatians for You and Judges for You by the same author, so saying yes to Romans 1-7 For You, another in the series, was a no-brainer.

As I have noted in each of the reviews, these books are not commentaries for serious academic study, they are, however, all excellent bible studies, and this volume on Romans 1-7 is no exception. Keller excels at unambiguously presenting the gospel, and this format showcases him at his best. From the challenge of Romans 1:26-27  through the much debated Romans 7, Keller manages to present difficult truth clearly and gently without compromising the truth itself. Despite his reputation in some reformed circles, Keller does a very strong study of Romans 6 and the balance of law and grace. In fact, the study of that chapter is some of the most balanced language I have ever read on the subject, walking the razor thin line between legalism and antinomianism in a faithful and biblical way.

Both this study and the study on Galatians would be excellent for small group studies with new believers or one-on-one discipleship. Keller’s gentle and engaging style is the “honey” that makes the sometimes difficult truths in these books a little easier to swallow. The studies are firmly rooted in the actual words of the text, and I think most believers would find them to be very worthwhile.

Keller will wrap up Romans for the Goodbook company, and then other authors will explore other biblical books for the remainder of the series. I hope that the addition of different voices and perspectives will still retain the excellent quality that these first three volumes have exhibited.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a hard cover edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one. I keep a disclosure statement here.