Shalom in Psalms: a book review

Shalom in Psalms is a sort of devotional commentary. The words to each psalm are printed out, from the Tree of Life Version ( a Messianic Jewish translation from the Jewish Family Bible Society), followed by a brief devotional reflection. These are generally two or three pages long, though a short psalm like Psalm 117, only warrants a paragraph and a long psalm like Psalm 119 has 9 pages of devotional notes. The authors comment on the text, make canonical connections with Torah and to Jesus the Messiah, and to the contemporary Messianic community.

9781493406456The three authors, Jeffery Seif, Glenn Blank and Paul Wilbur take turns writing the reflections for each psalm (often Seif or Blank, with some Wilbur).  The three men bring together linguistic scholarship, pastoral concern, and insight into worship. Wilbur is an artist and worship leader. Blank is a pastor, the Rabbi of Beit Simcha in Allentown, and a  Bible translator. Seif is the project manager for the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Project.

There is a lot to like about this book. The translation and notes are designed to reflect both the Jewish particularity of the Psalms and to highlight ways that the text points forward to Jesus the Messiah. They handle the text and the various genres well (i.e. lament psalms, psalms of praise, royal psalms, psalms of thanksgiving, wisdom psalms). They deal difficult themes (like the baby bashing in Psalm 137) with pastoral sensitivity. The explore the setting of life in the Psalms and draw connections to today. Wilbur especially shares stories from his songwriting and the worshipping community.

As a devotional commentary, this is pretty good. The Bible nerd in me wishes they discussed their translation method and their text-critical decisions for particular verses (i.e. ‘kiss the son’ or ‘kiss his feet’ in Psalm 2:12 is one text critical passage where modern translations are divided. The TLV follows the BHS with ‘kiss the Son’ but it would be fun to see how they weigh the textual evidence).  I realize this is a devotional pitched at non-scholars so text criticism is outside of their purview. But with the TNV translation, some textual notes would be a nice addition.

This is a nice devotional to delve deeper into the world of the psalms and what they have to teach us about the life of prayer (from a Jewish Christian perspective). I give it four stars.

Note: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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