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Review – Treasures of the king: Psalms from the life of David

February 2008 | by Peter Culver
Treasures of the king: Psalms from the life of David
Alec Motyer
IVP; 60 pages; £8.99;
ISBN: 978-1-84474-193-9

Anything from the pen of Alec Motyer can be guaranteed to stimulate and richly reward. This book is no exception. The author is a master of Old Testament study and exposition. His skill in Hebrew and a firm grasp of the text dig out imaginative and powerful truths.

These psalms are those whose headings describe the incidents in David’s life that inspired them – such as the 51st which begins: ‘A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba’. These headings form the first verse in the original Hebrew. We are recommended to read the appropriate passages from David’s life and I found this a good discipline.

Motyer paints David ‘warts and all’. He probes motives and mistakes leading to difficulties. For example, in Psalm 30 Motyer sees David – having fallen into the trap of arrogance as king – humbled into dependence upon God as a fugitive.

At another point Motyer says, ‘David was gold and we must never forget it, but he was far from pure gold and immeasurably far from the unspotted, unalloyed superfine gold required for the Messiah yet to shine in full lustre in David’s coming Son’.

This book contains many gems; for example, Psalm 59 where David praises ‘a God strong enough for every situation’, or Psalm 56 which teaches that ‘faith changes the whole scene’.

Motyer ends with David’s last psalm, recorded in 2 Samuel 23:1-7. This gives us a window on the way God brought the Scriptures to us through men like David, and shows how at the end of life David was preoccupied with the great unfinished business of the coming world-ruler, yet to be born within his dynasty.

Get the book – you won’t be disappointed.

Peter Culver