Book: Songs of a Suffering King
Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1-8 by J.V. Fesko takes those Psalms and examines their Christological concepts and unity. This is a small book, 124 pages in a 5x7 paperback. There are the expected intro/conclusion chapters and then one chapter for each Psalm.
Fesko first makes the case for the Psalms as an intentionally organized unit. His view is that the arrangement, including the order, of the Psalms is meant to tell a holistic story. This story foresees the Messiah, starting with Psalm 1.
From that point, Fesko examines the first 8 Psalms. He points out how they speak of Jesus, and each chapter is followed with discussion questions. These serve the reader well, reviewing material and driving application ideas.
It is important to note that Fesko’s work here is intended as devotional and not academic. To that end, some of his conclusions are not fully developed in the text. For example, his conclusion that the term “righteous” must only apply to Jesus is questionable in the Old Testament context. Given his scholarly work, I expect that Fesko has developed why this is the case, even with the references to Abraham or Job as “righteous.” A longer work with this information would be beneficial, though I understand that this is not the point.
An additional feature of each chapter is that the Psalm in view is presented at the end in metrical format. I am not musically versed enough to fully utilize the metrical information, but I can match it up with songs in the hymnal that I am familiar with. This is a great start toward utilizing the Psalms in worship.
Overall, I do not think that Fesko has presented the only possible way to understand these Psalms, but the idea he gives is excellent. Further, this work sparked my thinking. I find his take on Psalm 1 especially helpful, given that this Psalm presents a consistency of blessing that none of us see this side of the realized Kingdom.
In clarification, I’d like to have seen Fesko give a little more information on whether or not the “pick a collection” method of sorting Psalms is valuable or not. In the opening chapters, he specifically points out problems with not reading the Psalter as a straightforward collection, but in later chapters he points out which sub-collection some of the Psalms belong with. Again, this is likely a feature of the shorter length of the devotional treatment.
I have no qualms about suggesting this for a short-term Bible study if you need one. It allows a look at Jesus and the Psalms without ignoring the context of the latter.
I did request and receive this book for review without cost to me.