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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: "The Way of Righteousness" by Dale Ralph Davis

The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12 by Dale Ralph Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this 144 page paperback, Dale Ralph Davis walks the reader through the first twelve Psalms. He approaches the Psalms along the lines of Gordon Wenham in his book "The Psalter Reclaimed" (see my review of that fine work). Davis follows more of a canonical-redemptive flight pattern in interpreting the Psalms. Each Psalm is where it is for a reason, and that helps to unpack the meaning of the passage. But beyond that technicality, this is a delightful morsel to feed on, especially for weary, worn, watery-eyed souls that feel that their faith is becoming rice-paper thin."

"The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life" is truly what they title says. On the one hand, there are loads of reasons for God's covenant-love recipients to take heart. The God whom we love, not only loved us first, but continues to keep our plight in mind, guiding, sustaining, helping; "There is a sense in which Yahweh saves you again and again in your troubles and dangers. Some of you can point to having been 'saved' in that sense even this last week. We shouldn't forget this sense of 'salvation.' Maybe some of us are in arrears in the gratitude department as we haven't been remembering this" (48).

On the other hand, Davis doesn't hold back any punches when it comes to applying the good news of these Psalms. He draws believers into the punchy counsels of the Psalms, for example when writing about Psalm 5, "There is a difference between prayer and drivel. I do not want to advocate eloquence in prayer, but I want to reject thoughtlessness in prayer" (63). Similarly, he rubs the noses of the wicked in the gracious grit of the psalter. When commenting on Psalm 5, verses 5 and 6, Davis notes; "Verses 5b and 6b sort of blow up the myth about God 'hating sin yet loving the sinner.' He does not hate the evil done but the evildoers (5b); he doesn't detest merely bloodthirsty deeds but bloodthirsty men (6b). What holy, praise-worthy hatred" (64)!

"The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life" is a book for God's children, wherever they are in the muddy, muddled, messiness of life. I warmly recommend it.


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