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Thursday, June 16, 2016

"A Commentary on the Psalms Vol 3 (90-150)" (Allen P. Ross)

TITLE: A Commentary on the Psalms: 90-150 (Kregel Exegetical Library)
AUTHOR: Allen P. Ross
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2016, (1024 pages).

This is the third volume of a huge undertaking by Professor Allen P. Ross that despite confessing that "no work on the Psalter can be said to be complete," still proceeds to give the rest of us a glimpse of the beauty and the difficulty of the work. It is one thing to admit the limitations. It is yet another to do one's best and I am happy that Ross has done the latter for the benefit of the rest of us. So this volume gives us the rest of the 60 psalms.  Pledging to strike a balanced between being too technical and being too popular, he shares about his early learning process about preaching Psalms. He would first do the heavy lifting of exegesis before engaging in an expository style of preaching from the Psalter. Under the guidance of Dr Bruce Waltke and Haddon Robinson, Ross has grown in his treatment of the psalms to develop a method that combines the best of exegesis and exposition. This method is described in this commentary. The general format of each chapter is:
  • A Summarized Title shows us the big idea of the entire Psalm.
  • An Introduction to the text and textual variants to describe the sources, earlier translations like the Vulgate; and earliest commentaries. With the main text printed for ease of reading and reference, this part looks like a regular study Bible with added technical details.
  • Composition and Context gives readers an appreciation of the literary style and genre of the particular psalm. Context inform interpretation. 
  • Exegetical Analysis is the heavy lifting needed for every teacher and preacher.  Beginning with a summary and outline to prepare us on how to read the text and what to expect, the overall gist of the verses are described in plain and precise statements which can easily form a preaching structure. Incorporated within this analysis is the Commentary in Expository Form is where preachers will find extremely useful. Written with preaching to the lay in mind, the verse-by-verse format gives not only what the verses mean but also possible directions of sermon delivery. Good preachers will do their own exegesis prior to using the content of this commentary, lest they be swayed prematurely about what God is speaking to them.
  • The Message and Application is a gem in this book. Reading with the 21st Century audience in mind, there are lots of relevances and bridges built to assist understanding. 
The standard structure of this commentary makes it a very useful reference for busy clergy and laity. This helps us to maintain a consistent reading and study of the psalms, while appreciating the genre. Apart from the excellent content, Ross gives us an index of Hebrew word studies and bibliography for advanced research. Personally, I like exegetical commentaries like this because it does three things. It explains, proves, and applies. For example, let's consider Ps 119, the longest psalm in the Psalter. Beginning with the title summary, "The Word of the LORD and the Life of Faith," Ross is spot on as he identifies with the sentiments of many readers that the long psalm can sometimes be taken for granted for its seemingly simple and repetitive message. He explains that it is not so. Instead, the way the entire psalm was written is a beautiful literary art. It is an alphabetic acrostic psalm which highlights the authorial intent to highlight the breadth and depth of the Word of the LORD. It parallels the Torah and the language of Deuteronomy. It can be read meditatively and contains important words that enable us to worship. He goes on to show the major themes to support the general thrusts of the psalm. From stanza to movement, from key words to general thrust, from alphabet to alphabet, each chapter contains many ideas for preaching and living applications. Ross does not let the repetitive nature of Ps 119 wear him down. He makes it a point to see the entire 176 verses in fresh light. That in itself is an amazing accomplishment. Only one with a love for the LORD's Word can do that and in doing so, he encourages readers to do the same.

On the shortest psalm of the Bible, the commentary starts off Ps 117 with a pronouncement that says "Universal Praise for God's Faithful Love." The summary and outline of the passage gives us ideas on preaching directions. The level of examination and application though brief is still able to provide us enough material to give a 30 minute sermon on it. All in all, I am quite happy with this volume because of the scholarship and the way Ross builds a bridge between the ancient and the modern era. Together with the other two volumes, Ross has given the Church an excellent set of resources for preaching and teaching the Psalter.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Academic in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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