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Journey: Psalms for Pilgrim People

By Alec Motyer
August 2009 | Review by Paul Bassett


What is possibly the most exquisite single group of psalms — 120–134 — describe themselves as 'songs of ascents'. They recall the journeys of pilgrims from all over the land 'up' to Jerusalem to keep the feasts of the Lord. And as the people walked, they sang. God's people today may not make quite such a journey but, as Alec Motyer contests, in living the Christian life we have all embarked on a pilgrimage of the heart. The life of faith is to be lived on the move; through varying terrains but with a single destination as we walk with eyes fixed on Jesus. A devotional read to hearten both weary and sure-footed travelers.

  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844743551
  • Pages: 160
  • Price: £8.99
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Book Review

Alec Motyer writes both as a former Bible College principal and a pastor. He uses his obvious scholarship in the exposition and application of these psalms. The book is a journey through Psalms 120–134. Described as ‘Songs of Ascents’, they recall the journeys of pilgrims from all over the land going up to Jerusalem to keep the feasts of the Lord, singing as they walked. It is a pilgrim’s song book.

Psalms 120–134 are set out in five groups of three. Each group, Motyer suggests, can be regarded as a ‘mini pilgrimage’. He describes our pilgrimage as a ‘twin track affair’. On one hand, we are making our way forward to Zion through an alien and hostile world; on the other, we are making progress in our walk with God, a pilgrimage of the heart and of personal devotion.

Motyer is unashamed to bring out from the Hebrew the richness of nouns and verbs — to warm our hearts, instruct our minds, and challenge us in our own personal pilgrimage in the 21st century. At the end of each psalm he helpfully adds notes for those wishing to make a more detailed study of each psalm.

This book can be a great help in daily devotional reading. There is a danger that we only turn to the book of psalms when we are in some particular trouble — and then often only to our favourite psalms. Motyer makes us study these psalms as doctrinally as we might study the Pauline epistles, but always with application to our own lives and today’s world.

How all of us need to review our spiritual journey so far, and find inspiration to continue until we arrive home in heaven!

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