The Psalms possess an enduring fascination for us. For frankness, directness, intensity and intimacy, they are unrivaled in all of Scripture. Somehow the psalmists seem to have anticipated all our awe, desires and frustrations. No wonder Christians have used the Psalms in worship from the earliest times to the present. Yet the Psalms cause us difficulties when we look at them closely. Their poetry is unfamiliar in form. Many images they use are foreign to us today. And the psalmists sometimes express thoughts that seem unworthy of Scripture. Tremper Longman gives us the kind of help we need to overcome the distance between the psalmists' world and ours. He explains the various kinds of psalms, the way they were used in Hebrew worship and their relationship to the rest of the Old Testament. Then he looks at how Christians can appropriate their message and insights today. Turning to the art of Old Testament poetry, he explains the use of parallelism and imagery. Step-by-step suggestions for interpretating the psalms on our own are followed by exercises for further study and reflection. Also included is a helpful guide to commentaries on the Psalms. Here is a book for all those who long to better understand these mirrors of the soul.
Tremper Longman III
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The psalms are a microcosm of the Old Testament message. They are poetry. They are hymns. While many are uplifting and inspirational, some are dark and mysterious--and even shocking. (Reading Psalm 137:9: "Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks"--is always cringe-inducing.) And in many cases, the psalms are just downright confusing to modern readers.
In this book, author Tremper Longman III explores how Christians should read the Psalms, especially focusing on how the coming of Christ affects our understanding of these hymns and laments. Specifically, he shows us how the Psalms anticipated Jesus and his work, suffering on the cross and divine glory.
While parts of this book are truly fascinating and helped me understand more of the "why" behind the psalms, much of it is like reading a graduate-level paper for an English class--analyzing the psalms like one would a poem. Longman examines genre, imagery, similes...
I first met Tremper Longman's brilliantly simple (I choose the dual descriptors carefully) introduction to reading the Psalms back when I needed it most. I was preparing to teach the Psalms for the first time in a burgeoning Latin American seminary and was appropriately scared stupid.
Since then I have taught the Psalms many times and in many locations. I've yet to find a better English-language introduction for the serious reader of the Psalms that this work.
The strength of HOW TO READ THE PSALMS, in my view, is the careful attention to the various genres or sub-genres of the psalms. It gives readers a doorway into an otherwise confusing morass of 150 poems. It draws on the best technical Psalms scholarship but it comes across to the reader as a helpful mentor rather than a technical geek. Longman also gives carefully selected and therefore helpfully illuminating examples from the Psalms themselves.
In my experience and that of many students, one...
How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman III is a helpful and accessible guide for pastors, students, and lay persons desiring to study the Psalms. The book, divided into three parts, begins with an invitation to study the Psalms. Recalling Calvin's words that the Psalms are "an anatomy of all the parts of the soul," Longman urges us to read the Psalms, because they "appeal to the whole person . . . they inform our intellect, arouse our emotions, direct our wills, and stimulate our imaginations."
Part one of the book focuses on "The Psalms Then and Now." The first chapter discusses the genres of the Psalms, dividing the psalms into seven types: the hymn, the lament, thanksgiving psalms, psalms of confidence, psalms of remembrance, wisdom psalms, and kingship (or royal) psalms. Chapter two examines the origin, development and use of the Psalms, including some helpful reflection on the titles, authorship, and historical events behind some of the psalms. Chapter three...
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