April 7 Book Reviews

Psalms for You

Psalms for You

Christopher Ash

Reviewed by: Larry E. Wilson

Psalms for You, by Christopher Ash. The Good Book Company, 2020. Paperback, 288 pages, $16.40 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP minister Larry E. Wilson.

Christians have long loved the Psalms. Well, at least some of them. Well, at least some parts of some of them. Do you find it hard to connect with all the parts of all the psalms when you read, pray, or sing them? Me too. Psalms for You by Christopher Ash is a welcome resource for us. Ash—writer-in-residence at Tyndale House, Cambridge, United Kingdom—offers a first-rate exposition of selected psalms in the context of the whole Psalter and the whole Bible. He does so within a framework of sound Reformed doctrine and robust biblical theology. His expertise and hard work are evident, yet he presents its fruit in a highly readable, instructive, devotional, and pastoral manner, reflecting a love for the Psalms and the Lord they point to, as well as for the church.

Ash doesn’t cover all one hundred and fifty psalms in this book. He selects thirty-five specific psalms and puts them into sixteen groups to represent various types of psalms from each of the five books of the Psalter. Of each psalm, he asks questions like: Who is the speaker? What did this mean for the original hearers? What did it mean for later old covenant believers? What did it mean for Jesus? What does it now mean for the exalted Christ and for us who are in Christ? This approach guides new covenant believers in learning how to read, pray, and sing all the psalms in Christ.

Ash’s approach really shines when he tackles challenging psalms like 109, 137, and 139, often called “imprecatory psalms.” He explores these psalms in both the old and new covenant contexts with skill and sensitivity. He also offers five compelling reasons to include them in our new covenant prayers and songs (204). He emphasizes that these are not really imprecations (curses) but rather prayers that ask God to make things right. As such, they align with the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Your kingdom come”) and leave vengeance to the Lord (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:19).

Psalms for You shows us how to use the Psalms, not by focusing only on the parts of Psalms that resonate with us, but instead by letting whole psalms from the whole Psalter reshape us so that we learn to resonate with the godly thoughts, feelings, and desires they express. I especially love how this book consistently points us to Jesus, highlighting the importance of interpreting the Psalms the way the New Testament interprets them—as songs and prayers written in the old covenant and fulfilled in Jesus. This approach helps us see how all the parts of all the psalms center around Christ (thanks to the Spirit of Christ who inspired David and the other authors). The Psalms are full of truth, full of emotion, full of Christ. It’s no wonder they’ve played such a prominent role in Christian piety and worship throughout most of church history.



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