My birthday was this past summer, and Kregel Academic gave me the opportunity of choosing a book to review (as a gift to me for my birthday). A good few books caught my eye (like Michael Shepherd’s new commentary on the Book of the Twelve), but I finally landed on Allen Ross’ third volume of his Psalms commentary. We have his first volume, and I’ve been wanting to get all three. (The second volume review is here.) I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to help with my collection. His first volume is excellent, so I had no doubts about this one. The commentary proper (excluding the index and bibliography) is about 950 alone. His commentary on Psalm 119 is 138 pages! This is probably the longest commentary on the Bible’s longest chapter (unless there are any monographs on it, though I’ve never seen any).
He begins each chapter with his own translation of that particular Psalm, providing plenty of footnotes on Hebrew or Greek textual variants, either noting a literal translation or something different in the LXX. Next he gives the composition and context of the psalm. He looks at different views on when a psalm could have been written (pre- or post-exilic), but it is hard to be certain. Rather, he looks a bit at where it sits canonically. When it comes to Psalm 150, Ross writes, “It is possible that the psalm was not intended for this conclusion, but had been written earlier and was found to be an appropriate conclusion to the collection” (962). Since it was used as part of the temple liturgy, we see that it was “in that use it focused on the meaning of the whole Psalter, the praise of God. Here we find the purpose and the outcome of the psalms” (962). He then outlines Psalm 150:
- vv. 1-2: Introduction: praise God for his great and mighty acts
- vv. 3-5: Praise God with music and dance
- v. 6: Climax- everything that has breath, Praise the Lord!
“The psalm then calls for universal and elaborate praise for the LORD God for his greatness” (963).
Next comes the exegetical analysis. Here Allen summarizes the psalm and gives a further, more detailed outline. After this Ross dives into the psalm, giving a commentary in expository form. Ross notes that “praise” summarizes this psalm and the Psalter, as “praise” occurs in this short, final psalm 13 times! Ross defines words on what different instruments would be, or what it would mean to “dance” for the Lord. Ross provides many cross references to other psalms to help draw connections in the theology of the psalter. Finally, Ross ends with the psalm’s message and application, saying that the psalm specifies who is to be praised, and where, why, and with what means he is to be praised. Instruments and dancing, “all part of Israelite culture, were to be put to use in the praise of God, even if they were not officially designated for temple service” (969). We now have more instruments then they did then, and the greatest way to use them would be to praise God.
Psalm 115 reminds us that those who follow idols become just like them: deaf and blind, “empty and degraded” (Isa 44:19). Yet though believers live in a world mocked and despised by others, “God is sovereign, omnipotent and loving, and he will rescue his honor when he pours contempt on those opposed to the faith and redeems his people” (419). People make their own gods, but they want their gods to serve them. Jesus came and served, but he also makes demands of us. Yet this God who is beyond greater than us is the only one who can save us, care for us, and bring us to glory.
If you’re a pastor, teacher, or layperson, these commentaries are excellent. They are long, but the Psalms need long exposition. Too many commentaries are quite short, and this is very understandable. Who has time to read (or even write) almost 3,000 pages with the Psalms? Thankfully, if you’re studying the Psalms, there is someone you can turn to to get a thorough treatment of the Psalms (pair Ross with Kidner’s succinctness and Hamilton’s canonical understanding when you study too). Allen’s volumes will aid you well for a long time.
- Author: Allen P. Ross
- Hardcover: 1024 pages
- Publisher: Kregel Academic (April 27, 2016)
- My review of Volume 2: Psalms 42–89
Buy it from Amazon or Kregel Academic!
Disclosure: I received this book free from Kregel Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.