Monthly Archives: May 2016

Evangelizing Under God’s Sovereignty

The Corinthians

Paul sent a lot of letters to the Corinthians. Four letters, in fact.

  • 1 Corinthians 5.7 speaks of the first letter.
  • 1 Corinthians is the second letter.
  • 2 Corinthians 2.3-4 speaks of a severe letter (#3)
  • 2 Corinthians would be the fourth letter.

Why spend so much time on the Corinthians, especially with the Severe Letter and 2 Corinthians? Once the Corinthians rejected Paul, why did he give them another chance with the Severe Letter? And why did he give them yet another chance with 2 Corinthians? Some repented (2.9; 7.7-11, 14), but there were still others who had not yet repented (2.6, a “majority” suggests a “minority” who still had not repented; cf. 6.1, 14-16a; 10.10; 12.19-21; 13.5, 7, 9). Why did Paul spend the time giving them so many chances?

In Acts 18, Luke tells us of Paul’s missionary ventures in the city of Corinth. Paul receives encouragement from the Lord in a vision in 18.9-11,

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Paul did not leave, but he stayed there for one and a half years because God told him that he had many in the city who were his people. There were Corinthians who did not yet know Christ, and Paul was going to have to put in the time and effort to teach and love them. And because of God’s promise, Paul spent 1.5 years with the Corinthians. He wrote four letters seeking to teach them about the crucified and resurrected Christ.

Because of God’s promise, Paul evangelized. God’s promises don’t mean that we can be lazy. We will have to work. But knowing who God is gives us confidence that our work won’t be in vain. His word will take effect. People will either accept this fragrance of life, or they will reject this fragrance of death (2 Cor 2.15-16).

If God is Sovereign, Why Evangelize?

Here is a list of missionaries who had the same “God-is-sovereign-so-we-should-go-out-to-the-nations” thinking as Paul (Rom 15.24). This list of missionaries is taken pretty much directly from Scott Christensen’s book What About Free Will? While this list my no means “proves” Compatibilism to be true, it goes against the idea that God’s sovereignty negates evangelism. Instead, it should propel evangelism. 

Missionaries and God’s Sovereignty

This perspective drove many of the most important pioneers in modern missions, many of whom were Calvinists. Notable are men such as

John Eliot (1604–90) was the first missionary to American Indians during the colonial era.

David Brainerd (1718–47) later became a missionary to the Delaware Indians in New Jersey. (105-106)

Adoniram Judson (1788–1850) served as a missionary to Burma for forty years and was among the first missionaries in North America to travel overseas.

Robert Morrison (1782–1834) was the first Protestant missionary to China and translated the first Bible into the Chinese language.

Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was a British pastor well known for his expository preaching. His heart for missions led him to found the Church Missionary Society that has sent more than nine thousand missionaries around the world.

Henry Martyn (1781–1812) was one of these missionaries. He was indefatigable in his short life of thirty-one years. When Martyn arrived in Calcutta in 1806, he said, “Now let me burn out for God!” He did so gloriously.

David Livingstone (1813– 73) was a national hero in Victorian England. The famous medical missionary to Africa was also an explorer who was searching for the origins of the Nile River.

John G. Paton (1824–1907) brought the gospel to the cannibalistic tribes among the New Hebrides islands of the South Pacific. He faced constant threats of death, and some feared that he would be eaten. But Paton responded, “If I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms.” 

Samuel Zwemer (1867–1952) was called “the apostle to Islam” and is the most effective missionary to Muslims to date. Although these men believed that God elects to salvation, they were not ignorant of the means he uses to accomplish his saving goals. (106)

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Review: Core Christianity

Core+Christianity+by+Michael+Horton

When you hear the word doctrine, what enters your mind? For some, it’s “Root canal.” For others, “Ice cream.” If this is God’s good, life-giving word, should it feel like the dentist forgot the Novocain when we read the Bible? Is it possible that we could actually want to read the Bible, to enjoy reading it, to understand it?

Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California. He is the host of the weekly broadcast White Horse Inn and the editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. His purpose in writing Core Christianity is “to help you understand your reason for your hope as a Christian so that you can invite others into the conversation” (14). Throughout teaches you about the Bible Story without it feeling like you’re being taught about dreaded doctrine.

Horton doesn’t write only for the new believer. He writes for all believers. The Bible is a hefty book, and it is extremely difficult to find the whole story. Sure there are the main ideas of “Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration,” but what happens in between all of that? And why does it matter every day? Horton quotes Socrates who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Horton takes that maxim and points it to Christians, “But it’s also true that the unexamined faith is not worth believing” (16).

Core Christianity is situated between the beginner and intermediate level. It’s a good book for a new Christian to read through carefully, and it’s still a good book for long-time believers. There were insights that I found helpful, like that found on pages 17-18: The 4 D’s: Drama, Doctrine, Doxology, and Discipleship.

  • Drama teaches us the story of the Bible, like how Jesus died and rose again.
  • Doctrine teaches us that Jesus was “delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification” (Rom 4.25, pg. 17).
  • Doxology means “praise.” We worship God as we now know that “[e]verything that happened outside of us in history now becomes our story” (18). Christians are found “in Christ,” and his story becomes our story.
  • Discipleship comes when the Christian realizes he is no longer the main character of his own story. He are able to live out his role to love God and to love his neighbors.

When looking at us as God’s creation, we who are made in his image, the title of “Son of God” is one of “office” and “intimacy.” This is what makes sin even worse. Horton utters these somber words, “The tragedy of sin is not that animals like us have behaved like animals; it is that sons of God—the Bible includes males and females under this title—have become like the beasts” (123).

Yet we can praise God because he has saved us and placed us within his grand story. From God’s goodness to the role of Scripture, from making a mess of God’s world to his promise that runs through the Old Testament, from Jesus as the servant King to our hope of life (after death) in the new creation (when heaven meets earth, Rev 21-22), Horton gives the church an easily-digestible systematic theology (meaning, what the whole Bible tells us about its main doctrines). No biblical doctrine stands alone. Each doctrine and teaching is part of a team that plays together. No one sits the bench.

Conclusion

The essentials are vital to pin down and understand. They are the core of what we believe, and the core holds everything else together. If we miss the essentials, we’ll go afar into left field. We’ll grow selfish and neglect others. Perhaps instead of viewing God as our loving, holy Father, we’ll view him as our magic genie who agrees to give us everything we could ever want, and we’ll be disappointed when he doesn’t do so. This is not our story, but God’s story which is focused on Christ. And the more we see God rightly (as rightly as we can in this life), the more we will be in awe of our majestic king.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Michael Horton
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (April 5, 2016)

(Special thanks to Zondervan for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book).

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Four Ways of Sanctification

How does sanctification fit into the compatibilist reading? How much of this “Christian growth” do we actually have a part in, and how much does God do for us? Is it all up to me? All Him? 50/50 split? 60/40? Am I a little snowball that God rolls down the hill, and as I stay on this wild ride I gather more snow and become “more holy”?

In his book What About Free Will?, Scott Christensen lays out four views on sanctification.

Sanctifying Growth in Holiness is…?

  1. 1
    The Me Alone Model – We are the lonesome Ranger “pursuing a band of elusive Comanches across a barren prairie.” We have the power to grow in holiness fist fine all on our own.
    w
  2. 2
    The God Alone Model. All we have to do is say, “Let go and let God“ and – *poof* – God grows us like a ch-ch-ch-chia plant!  We merely “sit comfortably and drink our tea while God infuses us with a mystical holiness” (97).
    w
  • 3

    The God Plus Me Model. Here comes the 50/50 split. We do our part while God does his.

    God is our copilot, either making up for what we can’t do on our own or supplying us with the necessary support to fly the plane of sanctification. This scenario might be mistaken as compatibilist, but don’t be misled. This position is actually more in line with Arminianism. Sanctification in this case is synergistic. God’s grace is necessary for a believer to persevere in her faith, but that grace is not sufficient for perseverance. The believer must cooperate with that grace by the exercise of her free will. Without such diligence, she can fall away from the faith and be lost once again. (97)

    Christensen uses and analogy I heard when I took Lindsay’s Philippians/Colossians class. You decided you would climb a mountain.

    4

    Prekestolen (“The Preacher’s Pulpit”) in Rogaland county, Norway

    In a sudden moment of terror – you slip. As you are barely hanging on to the side of the rock, holding on for dear life, a young Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to the rescue.
    5
    Instead of saying, “Get to the choppa!” – Conan the Barbarian himself says, “Grab ma’ hand!” But then you hear him say, “I will hold on to you… as tightly as you hold on to me!

    . . . wait a second. Young Arnold could benchpress 440 lbs (200 kgs), deadlift 710 lbs (322 kgs), and lift 298 lbs (135 kgs) over his head. And I… can’t do that. But he’s going to hold on to me only as tightly as I hold on to him? Why even grab my hand?
    w

  • The All God and All Me Model. “In this fourth model, we work 100 percent toward the progress of our sanctification while simultaneously trusting that God is 100 percent at work in us” (97).

    The necessary trust in God’s sufficient power to achieve Christlikeness is attended by a corresponding and necessary obedience that he demands from us (Eph. 1:18–19; 3:16–17). In the end, “sanctification is God’s work, but he performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of his people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God.”

 

Philippians

I will add another verse to the Philippians texts I used in a previous post.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (1.29-30)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (1.6)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (2.12-13)

  1. Paul says that two things have been granted to believers: belief in Christ and suffering for his sake.
  2. God began a knew thing in believers with this belief in Christ, and he will bring them to completion when Christ returns (3.20-21)
  3. because Christ took the form of a servant, we must be willing to serve others too. And when difficulties arise, whether it be in the form of actual suffering or not, we can trust that this too has been granted by God for the sake of Christ (1.29). We must work on our salvation. We must put in the effort to love and serve others around us. And as we do so, we know that God is bringing his good work, our belief in Christ, to its completion. (This is not to say that our hope is in our efforts. Our hope is in Christ, and we should “perform deeds in keeping with our repentance” (Acts 26.20).

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Review: James (EEC)

JEEC

Besides being one of the administrators to a number of “nerdy” Facebook groups (I should add that they are wonderful groups which have helpful discussions on biblical languages and theology), William Varner is a Professor of Bible & Greek at The Master’s College and Seminary (where John MacArthur serves as President).

In the EEC series, “Each of the authors affirms historic, orthodox Christianity and the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures” (xi). The EEC series is also the first series to be produced in electronic form. Besides being linked up with your other Logos resources, the benefit with this is that the authors can add and change their insights when they gain new insights (even 20 years from now). 

Though highly neglected for much of church history, the “last forty years . . . have witnessed both James and the writing attributed to him emerging into the brightness of a new day for Jacobean scholarship” (1). There have been at least thirty major commentaries since the 1970s. Why do we need another commentary on such a small letter? To quote Varner, “I can only say that there will always be a need for good commentaries on a biblical text, because ‘God yet has light to spring forth from His word,’” and “the application of fresh linguistic methods to exegetical analysis demands an occasional fresh look at familiar biblical passages” (1, fn 4).

Varner believes James to have been both the brother of Jesus and the leader of the church, the Jerusalem church and of the entire Jesus movement. The letter was written in Jerusalem in the mid-to-late 40s AD for Jewish-Christian congregations “in or around Syria” (18). Some of James’ main themes are God, the Messiah, the Holy Spirit, faith, wisdom, and eschatology. Both a kingdom and a judgment are waiting for us in the future, but also a part of that future kingdom is here now. We have the King’s “royal law” (2.8) now, and we experience the “new birth” (1.18) now too.

Layout

The layout of the series works pretty much the same for all volumes (for more detail, check out my review on the Ephesians volume). Generally, each section is separated into 9 different sections.

  1. Introduction
  2. Outline
  3. Original Text
  4. Textual Notes
  5. Translation
  6. Commentary
  7. Biblical Theology Comments
  8. Application and Devotional Implications
  9. Selected Bibliography

There are also 3 excursuses at the end of the commentary.

  1. Scot McKnight’s Treatment of James 2.18
  2. James 3.1-12: Can the Tongue Really Be Controlled?
  3. Wisdom in James

Conclusion

Sometimes when I review a commentary, knowing that a commentary can’t do everything, I try to suggest at least one other commentary to pair the reviewed copy with. I’m not really sure who I should suggest here. Moo’s PNTC volume is a wise choice, and Blomberg’s ZECNT volume will likely have great practical points. But when I really compared them to Varner, I found Varner to have more clarity and better application.

And really, the biggest difference was something small, simple, and often overlooked in a commentary: his outline. It’s not just the outline itself that is impressive, but his argument for it. Varner believes that 3.13-18 is the “thematic peak” of James (where it brings all of the themes together), and 4.1-10 is the “hortatory peak,” a section filled with exhortations, commands, loving rebuke, and encouragement to James’ readers to cut off their friendship with the world, to stop their selfish bickering, and to humble themselves before the majestic King of glory.

Martin Luther accused James of borrowing “a few ideas from the apostles” and then afterwards he “‘threw them on paper.’ Luther thought that the organization of the book was as bad as its doctrine” (62). Many others have found James’ structure to be equally elusive. Varner shows that the leader of the Church did know what he was talking about, and it sets this commentary apart from the rest as Varner guides through the commentary, showing us the word-signs that point backwards and forwards to reveal and to herald what has been and what is to come.

Varner’s commentary is technical, but in the Grammarian Desert you will also find equally refreshing pools of theology, theology that is biblically practical. He follows the flow of James’ river of wisdom and smoothes out gnarled passages (e.g., James 4.5). This should be on your shelf. Better yet, this should be open on your desk.

Lagniappe

  • Author: William Varner
  • Series: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary
  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Lexham Press (April 9, 2014)

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[Special thanks to Lexham Press for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book].

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Discerning God’s Will

Throughout my life I’ve wondered what I would become when I grew up. Who would I marry? What would my job be? Where would I live? How should I get there? We ask ourselves questions like, When will God show me the perfect girl (or guy) to marry? Should I go to this cheaper and closer-to-home university and stay in my band or head up to the better-and-more-expensive university . . . and then decide my major? Where should I send my kids to daycare? I will buy the Beefy Crunch Burrito . . . or maybe I should order the Cheesy Double Beef Burrito instead? Both? Is there life after Taco Bell?

How do we make sense of James 4.5 when very few Bible translations agree with each other? Is it really that difficult to know what James is saying? Apparently, yes, it is.

In his book What About Free Will, Scott Christensen reveals the problem in this kind of thinking, “The problem is that Christians are asking God to reveal what he has said is a secret” (87). 

These questions simply aren’t for us to know. God can and may reveal the answer, but there’s no guarantee he will. In fact, he probably won’t. At least, not in the type of “Give-me-a-sign” direction we’re usually looking for. We want to avoid anxiety. We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want to face the hardship that comes with not getting our “ideal” school/job/spouse/car/church/house/burrito. We might think that if there’s hardship then we must be “outside” of God’s will.

As Christensen points out, we may open our Bibles and cry out with Asaph,

Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?
(Ps. 77:7–9)

But if we truly trust God, it’s a bit silly to doubt him every time we’re anxious or when we have to put in some effort.

2 Corinthians 1.5-7, “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 

Romans 8.16-17,“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.“

Philippians 1.29-30, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

How Can We Make Sense of God’s Will?

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. (Ps 37.4-5)

This is not a guarantee to all people, but only to those who “delight themselves in the Lord.” Christensen says,

“Note its conditional nature. A believer cannot expect to find her heart’s desires fulfilled through answered prayer if she neglects to delight herself in the Lord. This means that her ‘delight is in the law of the LORD’ (Ps. 1:2), with ‘the law’ referring to God’s moral revelation in Scripture. Thus, not just any sort of desires will be fulfilled. If one delights and lives in the revealed preceptive will of God, then one’s ‘desires’ and ‘way’ will be shaped by it. One finds that whatever desires she entertains, they will never conflict with God’s righteous precepts.” (87-88)

Our delight in God becomes our main desire. It doesn’t matter what happens as long as we know God, for we know that this world will pass and we will live in the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness dwells. “The godly person will ‘commit’ her hopes and dreams to the Lord; and as long as her plans don’t violate any of his moral principles and she will ‘trust in him’ to answer her petition, then ‘he will act’ (88).

“The bottom line is that discerning the will of God is surprisingly simple. When we meet the conditions of God’s preceptive will, then we are free (!) to choose what we want” (88). This may sound libertarian, but as you read on [in the book!], Christensen explains how this is compatible with God’s sovereignty.

We are born in sin. We are slaves to sin (Jn 8.36). God comes to us and sets us free from sin (Jn 8.36). Sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom 6.6-8). When we continually make the effort to delight in God (Ps 37.4-5) and in his word (1.2), it will become easier to delight in God and his word. It will become easier to chose God’s ways over your sinful nature. We will be free to choose what is right over what is wrong because “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8.36).

Conclusion

Perhaps we won’t be given a sign from above on which university we should go to, or who we should marry, or which job we should accept, but the more we delight ourselves in God the more we will understand him and take on his character. In reality, it doesn’t matter which option you choose. They will all have struggles and trials. Your job will be difficult because you and the people you work with are sinners. Your school will be difficult because, well, university is supposed to be difficult. And while you should use wisdom and counsel from others when choosing a marriage partner, you should know that your marriage, no matter who that “special someone” is, will have its struggles.

But if you delight yourself in the Lord, rather than giving in to sin and either running away from your problems or selfishly fighting against them to have it your way, you can choose to serve others. You can love your spouse, the people you work and learn with, and the schoolwork you do because you believe and you see that God is behind it all. You know that he is shaping you into the image of his Son Jesus Christ who, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2.23).

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Review: Ephesians (EEC)

EEEC

If you haven’t been able to tell, or if you haven’t seen the eight other posts I’ve written up about Baugh’s new Ephesians commentary, I’ve certainly enjoyed his new volume in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series. “Each of the authors affirms historic, orthodox Christianity and the inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures” (xi). The EEC series is also the first series to be produced in electronic form. Besides being linked up with your other Logos resources, the benefit with this is that the authors can add and change their insights when they gain new insights. Unlike physical copies, the Logos volumes can be updated by their authors 20 years from now (not to downplay the physical books too much).

S. M. Baugh is Professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, California. He ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and he is mindful of the toils in both scholarship and the pastorate. Baugh didn’t set out to create brand new interpretations on Ephesians when he began working on this volume. Instead he used his particular interests and areas of study to illuminate the text for scholars, pastors, and students. His horde of interests include the classics, ancient history (especially Ephesus), Greek grammar, textual criticism, Greek literary composition and rhetoric, and, finally, biblical theology.

These interests come together to make a powerhouse of a commentary. As a technical commentary, this is one of the best (if not the best). But don’t think that this commentary was spit out to split hairs on Greek grammar. There is much to gain from this commentary for both the pastor and the student (see my Previous Posts below), not only the scholar.

Layout

The layout of the series works pretty much the same for all volumes. Generally, each section is separated into 9 different sections.

  1. Introduction: A brief overview of the section (e.g., 2.1-10) and where Baugh gives his periodic arrangement of the Greek text for that section.
  2. Outline: A simple outline for the text.
  3. Original Text: The text as it is in Greek
  4. Textual Notes: Differences between manuscripts
  5. Translation: Baugh’s English translation
  6. Commentary: A full explanation of the text.
  7. Biblical Theology Comments: How the teaching in the text fits with the rest of the Bible, or the New Testament, or Paul’s own teaching, etc.
  8. Application and Devotional Implications: A few paragraphs on how the reader can think about the text in their own personal life, or how a pastor could preach this to his congregation.
  9. Selected Bibliography: Bibliography of books mentioned throughout the chapter

Eight Additional Exegetical Comments sections are strewn throughout this volume. A few of the subjects covered are Redemption; Magic; Faith in/of Christ; and Wine in Ephesus.

Baugh agrees that Paul is the author of this epistle, and that Ephesians is one of “generic” character. There are “no serious problems or concerns with his addressees that led Paul to write Ephesians” (31). Ephesians has a “positive” and certainly “less polemic” tone than most of Paul’s other letters (31).

Baugh believes the main theme of the letter “is easy to summarize with the phrase unity in the inaugurated new creation” (35).The church’s unity is rooted in the Triune God’s counsel and redemptive love. The Messiah has complete sovereignty over the old powers of creation, especially magic. The new creation is entering this world.

Conclusion

While Baugh does give a special attention to magic in Ephesus, you would do well to pair his commentary with Clinton Arnold’s ZECNT volume on Ephesians. Arnold has done a lot of work on the influence of magic in the Greco-Roman world, and his commentary is extremely skilled in putting forward the main ideas of Paul’s letter while remaining very practical too.

Those who have a handle on Greek will be the ones who benefit the most from this volume. But while Baugh certainly goes into detail into his commentary, he also agrees that “it is important to keep the theological center of ‘unity in the inaugurated new creation’ in view . . . The trees are beautiful in themselves, but the whole forest is where the vision of majesty dwells.”

Again, if you want one of the best technical commentaries on Ephesians, then you need to pick up Baugh’s commentary. 

Lagniappe

  • Author: Steven Baugh
  • Series: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary
  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Lexham Press (April 27, 2016)

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Review: Psalms 73-150

Psalms

Derek Kidner was a brilliant British Old Testament scholar. He taught at Oak Hill Theological College before becoming Warden of Tyndale House. He wrote many commentaries in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series and The Bible Speaks Today (BST) series. He has written volumes on the books of Genesis, Ezra–Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, and Hosea.

Here I’ll review his commentary on Psalms 73-150 (Books III to V) in the Kidner Classic Commentaries series. At just over 240 pages this serves as a nice, thick completion to his commentaries on the Psalms. Each Psalm is given between 3-6 pages. Kidner doesn’t treat the Psalms as just words on a page. They are life.

Examples

In Psalm 93 the Psalmist proclaims that “The Lord is king!” And Kidner insightfully reminds us that “It confronts us afresh with a fact whose impact on us may have weakened; and further, its decisive tense points on to the day when the King will come in power…” (370). Neither does Kidner forget to read the Psalms in context as he recognizes that the “King who will come to power” is a prominent theme in the surrounding psalms, especially 96 to 99.

In Ps 113, who is like the Lord? No one. “It is here that God’s glory most sharply differs from man’s: a glory that is equally at home ‘above the heavens’ (4) and at the side of one forlorn person” (437). God’s glory is seen in “giving the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother” (v9).

The next Psalm (114) also begins in a tremendous fashion and ends in a whispered wonder: The whole earth trembles before God’s majesty, and He directs his power “to the point of need, transforming what is least promising [a desert] into a place of plenty and a source of joy,” a place to water and feed His people (438).

The Chocolate Milk

He doesn’t allow himself to fall into the mire of despair, that swamp of gritty details and mindless facts. Kidner is brief and crisp. He takes conservative views on the Psalms. Discussions about the Hebrew text are usually placed in the footnotes.

You’ll have to look elsewhere if you want in-depth word studies, structure of the psalm(s), literary analysis, reading the Psalms as a canonical unit, or opposing views. Although some will want to look for other commentaries on the Psalms, not everyone wants all of the extra analyses. These volumes are especially helpful for the pastor, the student, and as a morning devotional (with some extra details).

Kidner’s volume works best if you have both volumes. Volume 1 has the Introduction and exegesis of Books I and II. Volume 2 continues on the page number where Vol 1 left off (so Vol 2 starts on page 285). So a reference back to “page 12” means page 12 in Vol 1. There is no Bibliography in Vol 2, so I assume its in Vol 1. Nevertheless, you really ought to own both.

Lagniappe

  • Author: Derek Kidner
  • Series: Kidner Classic Commentaries (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (October 5, 2014)

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(Special thanks to IVP Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book).

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