Slogging along in the paths of righteousness: Psalms 13-24
Dale Ralph Davis
Christian Focus Publications, 192 pages, £8.99
Star rating : 3
As a convinced ‘DRD’ fan, I was always going to enjoy this book. Its twelve short chapters (each taking about 15-20 minutes to read) comment on Psalms 13-24. The book would be suitable for a couple of weeks’ personal devotions.
The style is lighter and less technical than Davis’s Focus on the Bible commentaries, though he does provide his own translation of each psalm and occasionally discusses nuances of the original Hebrew.
The pages are packed with wit, punchy phrases and memorable illustrations, mostly from American sport or history. It’s obvious that Davis has come to know the God of the Old Testament well, and he encourages the reader to share in his admiration for Yahweh, in all his holiness, power, faithfulness and grace.
That’s exactly as it should be, although this approach does at times overshadow the links between these psalms and the later revelation of Jesus Christ. There are parts where the psalms are crying out for a New Testament interpretation, yet Davis appears to back off from it. He acknowledges, for instance, Paul’s use of Psalm 16:10 to refer to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 13:35), but is then reluctant to apply the same interpretation to other parts of the psalm, which he refers to as ‘a non-messianic text’ (p.63).
Elsewhere he hints that the psalms point to ‘David’s descendant’, or ‘the seed of David’, but he rarely goes much further. It made me wonder how much of the book a God-fearing, Jewish rabbi couldn’t say amen to.
All that changes when we reach Psalm 23, where Davis readily identifies the Good Shepherd, Guide, Protector and Host as the Lord Jesus Christ. This makes for a rich and refreshing look at a familiar psalm, probably worth the price of the book alone!
I particularly liked the earthy portrayal of a tough, rugged shepherd, armed with clubs to protect his sheep. After all (as Davis points out on the closing page), ‘You have no comfort if the King of glory is a wimp who reeks of hand-cream; you only have solace if he is your defender in the thick of war’.