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What Resources are Good for Help Preaching the Psalms?

Along the way I have lamented the lack of great resources for help in preaching the Psalms. There is a general problem of Bible commentaries getting bogged down in details and seeming to forget this is the word of God to the people of God. But this is particularly aggravated with the Psalms. At least two things contribute to this. One, the sheer length of the Psalms often limits or prohibits the type of depth of reflection given them. Just look at the number of pages given to commentaries on various NT books and then look at the commentaries on the Psalms. In the NICNT series the volume on the Pastoral Epistles (letters which often get less attention) has 934 pages whereas the NICOT on the Psalms has 1050 pages.

Secondly, with restricted space the academic pressures (or interests) typically push commentators to give their space to critical details. These details can be helpful, but the absence of further reflection is especially painful and problematic on the portion of Scripture which is designed to teach us to pray and to praise. Of all places, here we need the reflection of believing churchmen who from years of experience in laboring with the church and their own souls (in addition to academic work) can give us guidance on why God gave us these specific texts (I am deeply grateful for Ray Ortlund’s regular question to those of us in his Hebrew exegesis class, “Why did God give us this text?).

Good resources do exist (I think of Kidner’s 2 volume gem), but we need more. Often the liveliest books on the Psalms are books which approach them generally or collectively. These are wonderful, but in the work of preaching we need some that examine each Psalm individually. So, I have decided along the way as I teach or preach on certain Psalms to record here what I found in the various resources I used. I can’t use every source each time, but my plan is to vary my usage in order to find which ones are most useful in the actual work of preaching the Psalms. I have previously written a post like this on Psalm 128 and have more planned for the future.

2 Comments

  1. Ray says:

    Hey Josh,
    The newest of these posts is now up. I hope you’ve seen it. I’ve seen Wilson’s NIVAC but haven’t yet used. I hope to soon.

  2. Josh Philpot says:

    I completely agree with your frustrations, and I’m looking forward to these posts. A few years back I taught through Psalms 1-70 one at a time at a small church, and I basically stuck with a few resources. I found Wilson’s NIVAC helpful for preaching, and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on that one.

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