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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: The Gift Of Psalms (Word of Promise)

In his classic Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon writes: “The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure.” In Answering God, Eugene Peterson writes that “what is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. The Psalms show us how to answer.” And in his book Praying the Scriptures, Evan Howard reminds us that “The Psalms have been at the heart of Christian prayer throughout the church’s history… The earliest leaders of the church quote from the Psalms more frequently than from any other Old Testament book.”

All that is to say this: any sound devotional based on the Psalms is probably a worthwhile investment. The Gift of Psalms, a combination devotional book and accompanying audio CDs, certainly fits into that category. Produced by the folks who put together The Word of Promise audio Bible projects, this shares the quality production work of their other efforts.

Subtitled “Devotional Wisdom from 50 of the Best Loved Psalms”, the book portion is just that (gotta love it when the title actually and accurately summarizes the content). Fifty Psalms, or portions of Psalms, are reprinted, followed by some pretty good devotional writings by Lori Jones.

The Psalm selections and the devotional writings focused on magnifying God for His faithfulness, holiness, great works and salvation. What could have been mere fluff seemed to me to be a truly Christ exalting collection. Each devotional reading is concluded with a written prayer which is actually quite helpful. I know we Baptists have an aversion to that sort of thing, but try it once in awhile. In fact, The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers may be one of the best additions you’ll ever make to your devotional library (sorry for plugging another book here).

My favorite part, though, had to be the audio disks. While not including all 50 of the devotional readings, this collection of dramatic recordings of the Psalms followed by a reading of the devotional and prayer make an excellent addition to this project. I was able to average two Psalms/devotionals on my short drive to the church each morning, and I really enjoyed them. While we certainly never want to over-simplify our Scripture intake by replacing reading and meditation with this sort of thing, it does make a nice addition to one’s overall daily dose of the Word.

Wrap it all up in the fine, gift-quality package here, and I would certainly recommend this as a nice offering for a friend or family member. For that matter, you would probably enjoy giving this to yourself. A daily dose of Psalm reading is truly a “boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure,” and The Gift of Psalms is surely a pleasant addition to that practice.

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