les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book review - Songs for a Suffering King (The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1 - 8), by J V Fesko

This is a book with many strengths. Fesko believes that the Bible is God's word, given by the Holy Spirit through the agency of many human authors. He believes that the Bible is authoritative and relevant for the life of the Church and of the Christian today. And he writes from these convictions, giving his book a direct and helpful character.

Another great strength is Fesko's evident conviction that, as Jesus taught, the psalms all speak of Christ. He looks for Christ in each psalm, and aims to communicate the grace of Christ to his readers. How good that is! What is the point of opening up the Bible if you don't direct people to Christ?

The book has eight chapters, one for each psalm, entitled:

Song of the Righteous Man
Song of the Lord's Messiah
Song of Deliverance
Song of Hope
Song of Protection
Song of Forgiveness
Song of Vindication
Song of Majesty

Incidentally, seeing Christ in Psalm 8 reminds us of the delicacy of the task of Bible translation - "What is man, the son of man" - if we translate that as "What is mankind, human beings" we put a linguistic tank trap on the road that takes us to Christ and to Hebrews 2. It's a pity, and bravo to the Segond 21 which has kept "le fils de l'homme".

Weak points? Yes, a couple.

Firstly sometimes Fesko comes across as being angry, "many people do this", "some people say that". I'm not sure it was always appropriate or persuasive.

Then there are occasional lapses, of good sense or of good style.

Good sense, well he writes, "In the words of Scripture, made famous by Handel's Messiah: "The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15)"

Does he really think this text lurked in obscurity for 1700 years until Jenner chose it and Handel set it and suddenly it took its rightful place? Of course he doesn't! And I thought of the millions of Christians all over the world who will never hear Handel's Messiah, but who have heard or read this text and rejoiced. This sort of silly lapse, well we all make them, but before books are printed editors have to find them and get rid of them.

Good style? Well authorise me, genteel lecteur, to propose the consideration that less complicated words should be selected in preference to more obscure. For example, don't say "explicate" when "explain" is better.

But these are minor, nit-picking faults, and perhaps more to be blamed on the editors than on the author.

How many books do you have that show you Jesus Christ in the Psalms? Well here's one. Buy it and read it.

I was given a copy of the book in electronic format free of charge in return for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.


Martin said...

To be fair to him, Handel's Messiah does bring those words to many who would otherwise not know them.

I suspect too, that many of those who hear that other great work, "Israel in Egypt" would otherwise not hear these words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N8TtzSZ0uk

Alan Davey said...

To be fair I published your comment, though I still think that the book of Revelation is read and has been heard read by multitudes that will never hear anything by Handel, and only a scientific survey conducted worldwide over several centuries would convince me otherwise!