Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: Commentary on the Psalms (Vol. 2) by Allen Ross


Allen P. Ross, professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School, has a familiar place in my life as I learned Hebrew through his “Introducing Biblical Hebrew” textbook. I have a great deal of respect for his skill and passion for the Hebrew language, so I was eager to review one of his commentaries on the Psalms. Volume 2 covers books 2-3 in the Psalter, which includes Psalms 42-89.

Audience: Hebrew students and scholars, potentially pastors; expository thrust takes aim at equipping preachers with some skill in Hebrew.

Format and layout of how each Psalm is handled:


Text and textual variants (translates and comments on the form of the text)

Composition and Context (basic overview of Psalm with a view to how it relates to other Psalms within the Psalter)

Exegetical Analysis (brief summary and outline of the text)

Commentary in Expository Form (thematic outline and commentary, providing thought for application and experience)

Message and Application (summary of the overall message with a view toward contemporary relevance

Strengths: Ross has undeniable skill in the Hebrew language and bears this out in his outlining and summarizing. Textual issues are handled with care and precision, giving the reader assurance that the original text is being portrayed in a timely and accurate fashion.

Weaknesses: The technical nature of the commentary does not lend itself easily to actual Christian practice of praying the Psalms, which is their purpose. The warmth and vivacity that are at the heart of the Psalms seem (to this reader at least) to be obscured by all the technical jargon. Thus, it’s use seems to be for a fairly limited audience and would need to be supplemented by other commentaries that help round it out.

Also, the volume lacks an introductory section. Volume 1 contains all the introductory material, so unless the reader has access to that volume, Volume 2’s usefulness is quite limited.

Overall, a fine volume, but with limited capability of conveying the power and vitality of the Psalms as they call us to share in their experience of Yahweh.

Thanks to Kregel Academic for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Daily Covenant Prayer

In addition to my daily prayer for 2014, in the past 4-5 months I’ve also come to find great daily benefit in John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. It was designed by Wesley to help Methodist believers regularly renew their covenant relationship with God. I’ve expanded it a bit, to express what I’m learning and seeking (underlined portions are my additions). For resources on the original prayer, see the links at the end of this post.

Abba, I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,

exalted for you, or brought low for you;

For you Jesus,

let me be full, let me be empty,

let me have all things, let me have nothing:

For you Abba,

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal. I let it all loose.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit – my habitation, sufficiency and joy,

you are mine and I am yours.

I am My Beloved’s, and He is mine.

So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.


There are two powerful ideas in this prayer that help me the most. The first is the focused practicality of the surrender being offered – “rank me with whom you will . . . put me to doing, put me to suffering,” and shockingly, “let me be employed for you, let me be laid aside for you.” This kind of surrender offends my ego and scandalizes our current Christian culture of affluence seeking. I don’t know very many leaders willing to pray things like this; perhaps that tells us something of the state of the church today? Such surrender can be offered “for Jesus.”

The second idea that grips my imagination is how the prayer ends by enfolding the will in the very center of the Trinitarian life. Abandonment to the sufficiency of the Trinity is at the heart of the Christian life. It is the Christian life, and it is what Jesus died to provide us. I’ve added “my habitation, sufficiency and joy” to help me see and experience this. Wesley’s covenant comes down to this: “you are mine and I am yours.”  I am my Beloved’s and He is mine (Song of Solomon 2:16); this is what it means to walk with God day by day, and we can seek it and experience it. This is the good news.


“A Covenant With God,” from the The Methodist Church in Britain

A Study on the Methodist Covenant Prayer

a .pdf copy of the original text