I wanted to offer a brief review of The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms by Brian Webster and David Beach. It is a very simple easy to use guide to reading the Psalms.
A few comments on the authors are in order. One of my first thoughts was how useful it would be for our kids in homeschool. It’s full of glossy pictures and easy fonts. Dr. Webster himself is a homeschooling dad, so he may have had that in mind. Webster and Beach bring an interesting partnership to the work, Webster being a professor of Old Testament and Beach a licensed counselor. This collaboration is reminiscent of the work done by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman (Beach himself studied under Allender).
The book is divided into three sections: an introduction to the Psalms, quick reference charts and brief commentary on each individual psalm. Though the summary on each psalm is valuable, the most important contribution is the introduction and quick reference guides. In these sections we learn the different types of psalms along with their inherent genre characteristics that aid us in reading the psalms with greater understanding. In particular, the section on “personalizing the psalms” is very helpful, which places the psalms squarely in the relational and conversational context in which they originated.