"In The Presence of My Enemies" by Dale Ralph Davis. A Review

What do you give someone to help them through seasons when they are smeared and railed against? Where do you point those who are fretting over the suffocating rise of evildoers in their life? The book of Psalms is a good start! And Dale Ralph Davis, one-time Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, and pastor of several Presbyterian congregations throughout the years, has added another installment to his series on the biblical Psalter. In this newly published 224-page paperback “In the Presence of My Enemies: Psalm 25-37” Davis has amassed a short, scholarly, insightful and engrossing volume that aids readers to interact with these Psalms. The author joins hands with the sacred songwriter in beckoning us to employ our grittiest grief, formidable fears, principle praises and staunchest certainties as we pour out our hearts into the bosom of God. Older teens, twenty-somethings, tricenarians and beyond will find this a very approachable volume.

Each of the Psalms is printed out and placed before the chapter that covers it. The translation is Davis’s own, based on his extensive knowledge of Hebrew. They are not faddish ditties, but serious attempts at being faithful to both the mother-tongue and English-receivers. But the real beauty comes out in the author’s explanations of the respective Psalm. Here, not only does the writer take on studious details, but he draws out the importance for those lumbering through life under the heavy hand of tormentors.

It is especially those who feel the crushing grind of jackbooted thuggery who will find hope in hopeless situations as they pour over these pages. For example, when Davis unpacks Psalm 28, he reminds the brokenhearted of the importance of prayer, and that sometimes “believers must pray prayers that have hair on their chests” (71). Or earlier, while he tackles Psalm 26, he shows why David desires Yahweh to judge him, because enemies “or pseudo-friends may critique, berate, or condemn him, but David appeals beyond them to Yahweh for a true verdict (and probably one that would be unmistakably clear to onlookers).” Then a few lines later he boldly announces, “Jesus’ assessment will be far more accurate than men’s and, quite likely, much kinder” (30-1)! That will surely lift the spirit of one being falsely slandered and lied about!

“In the Presence of My Enemies” is a handy codex, and a hearty collection. This work is ideal for preachers and parishioners in their studies, but even more, in their devotions. And if you are trudging arduously before the oppressive presence of evil and darkness, you will find this book a true friend. You will be re-fortified as you wait “for Yahweh, and in the meantime as the wicked are running around loose remember that Yahweh is your ‘safe place in time of trouble’ (212). I highly recommend the volume!

You can purchase a copy here: In the Presence of My Enemies


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