The Psalms are good medicine for the soul. While they are honest about how hard life is, they restore God to the center of our very messed up lives. Many people are unfamiliar with Hebrew poetry, and struggle to understand and apply the Psalms. This is not helped by the fact that we don’t always, or often, know the context of particular psalms. It is like peeking in someone’s journal as they wrestle with their circumstances.
Dale Ralph Davis is a former OT professor (he has numerous acclaimed commentaries) who is a pastor. He is able to get into the nuts and bolts of the Hebrew for us, and yet this is not an academic exercise. He reveals the pastoral sensitivity throughout the book.
The book is The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life. Davis looks at the first 12 psalms. They read like they are adapted from sermons. For instance, this line:
“So .. how happy the man who does not … He is counter-cultural. He is, in a word, different. He is not just a nice, easy-going, tolerant chap who likes to share a Lowenbrau with you. There’s a difference between the righteous man here and what my culture calls a ‘good old boy.'”
Do people drink Lowenbrau? Is is still sold? You get the point though. Davis does live in the real world. He helps us to understand the Psalmist’s world and connects it with ours. These are not happy psalms, but about the muck of life. This is, therefore, a serious book about how to live as a Christian in the real, and fallen, world. This is in sharp contrast to many popular books that somehow give the impression that the Christian life is one of relative bliss and ease. There is no “best life now.” This is the kind of book people need to read, a book they should read.
While it could be good to read it in the midst of difficulty, we should prepare for hard times. People used to have “rainy day funds”, money set aside for unexpected expenses. Credit cards have made dealing with such things easier (and gotten us into plenty of trouble at times). People don’t prepare for broken bones or cars by saving money ahead of time anymore. There is little forethought.
We should have spiritual forethought, and not just financial forethought. We should invest in our spiritual life so when the muck of life comes we are prepared, ready and able to stand firm. This book helps us do this. When hard times comes, it is good to go back. I’d recommend investing in your spiritual life by getting this great little book that brings you to the hard places of life and shows you how God is there and at work in us and our circumstances.