Monday, October 6, 2014

Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko

book cover
Songs of a Suffering King
by J.V. Fesko

ISBN-13: 9781601783103
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Released: April 21, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
A devotional exploration of Psalms 1-8 with the premise that David, as the suffering king, prefigures Jesus Christ and that the psalms are ultimately about Christ.

My Review:
Songs of a Suffering King is a devotional-style look at Psalms 1-8. In the actual devotions, he gives a mini-sermon about the psalm and then showed how Jesus ultimately fulfills--and helps us fulfill--the verses.

I'd agree that you can find parallels between Jesus' life and David's life and that some psalms do have messianic references. However, the author seemed to feel that "righteous" and "blameless" in the Old Testament refer to someone who is sinless. Since only Jesus was sinless and some psalms claim that the speaker is righteous or blameless, the author seems to conclude that only Jesus can ultimately be the one saying the words of all the Psalms. However, several people were called righteous and/or blameless in the Old Testament, including Noah (Genesis 6:9), Job (Job 1) and Abraham (Genesis 15:6). Those words seem to be more about acting out their faith in God and being in right standing with Him than about never sinning.

The author's approach changed reading the psalms into a deeply theological study. His conclusions sometimes required fancy footwork to make them sound okay. For example, since only Jesus was sinless, only he can pray that his enemies be destroyed--and he only meant the ones who won't repent, of course. In Christ, we are also sinless and so can also pray that our enemies (in general) be judged/destroyed. But I don't think that's what Jesus meant by "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) even with the provisos the author threw in.

I was in a group that studied through the psalms, and we finally decided that those passages showed how our desire for justice creates a human reaction but we ultimately need to remember God's role and take comfort in His character. I felt like the author's premise almost put the psalms beyond the reach of the layman. While his devotions were decent overall, his underlying premise made the psalms feel less readable rather than more meaningful to me.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

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