Saturday, October 11, 2014

A review of Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko

A review of Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko:

Publisher's description:

"Our Lord has wisely given the Psalms, the songbook of the Bible, for the benefit of the church. But for many people, the Psalms’ contents are mysterious because they no longer have a place of prominence in the church’s worship. Author J. V. Fesko hopes to awaken the church to the majesty, beauty, and splendor of the Psalms through a devotional exploration of Psalms 1–8, a “grand Christ hymn,” in which David, as the suffering king, prefigures the king of kings, Jesus Christ. To encourage readers to come to a greater appreciation for the Psalms, the author includes with each chapter questions for further reflection and study and a metrical version of each psalm. He also recommends Internet resources that provide digital files of the tunes."

This is a short book (only 122 pages long) that guides us through Psalms 1-8, a group of Psalms that Fesko calls a "grand Christ hymn". That is the main theme of this book, that these Psalms, though written by David, prefigure Christ.  Here we hear the prayers of our Suffering King to His heavenly Father.  Here we get an idea of the types of things Christ may have prayed.

This is a devotional book, not a commentary, but it did give me a greater understanding into the Psalms in general.  I have always seen the Psalms as devotional, reading them when I was distressed or struggling, and though I knew there were messianic passages, it wasn't something I reflected on.  This book helped me do that, I see Christ in the Psalms like never before.  As Fesko comments in the introduction (a helpful overview of the entire Psalter), "the entire Psalter is connected to the person and work of Christ."

The introduction also shows us that unlike my previous understanding of the Psalter, there is a specific organizational structure to the entire thing, a five-fold structure.  The introduction is a very helpful overview of the Psalter, and I commend it to you.

From there, we have eight chapters, working through Psalms 1-8.  I won't go into an in depth description of each chapter, but as I mentioned above, this is a devotional work.  However, don't let that lead you to think that there is no rich theological truth here, there is.  An example I found helpful in chapter two was that Paul identifies the resurrection of Jesus as His royal enthronement (comparing Psalm 2 to Acts 13).  That's just one quick example. Then helpfully, at the end of each chapter there is a conclusion for reflection and study questions.

My main point?  This book exalts our suffering King, our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and opened up these eight psalms to me like never before.  For me, this book did exactly what the author intended it to do, it has given me a greater appreciation for the entire book of Psalms. 

Finally, at the end of each chapter there is a metrical version of each Psalm, which you can use for personal or family devotions.  The author also includes links so you can download the music for each hymn.  I think these metrical hymns would also make great prayers to be read in private devotion or in a study group.  Which leads to my last point, this book is perfect for private studies or devotional times, or public.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

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