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The Psalms as Christian Lament: A Historical Commentary

James M. Houston & Bruce K. Waltke

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Eerdmans; 1st edition (June 6 2014)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802868096
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802868091
Item weight ‏ : ‎ 476 g
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.6 x 2.08 x 23.39 cm

About the Book

Informed historical-theological- pastoral insights into ten lament psalms The Psalms as Christian Lament, a companion volume to The Psalms as Christian Worship, uniquely blends verse-by-verse commentary with a history of Psalms interpretation in the church from the time of the apostles to the present. Bruce Waltke, James Houston, and Erika Moore examine ten lament psalms, including six of the seven traditional penitential psalms, covering Psalms 5, 6, 7, 32, 38, 39, 44, 102, 130, and 143. The authors — experts in the subject area — skillfully establish the meaning of the Hebrew text through careful exegesis and trace the church's historical interpretation and use of these psalms, highlighting their deep spiritual significance to Christians through the ages. Though C. S. Lewis called the "imprecatory" psalms "contemptible," Waltke, Houston, and Moore show that they too are profitable for sound doctrine and so for spiritual health, demonstrating that lament is an important aspect of the Christian life.

Table of Contents 

Prologue xi

1 The Psalms as the Christian's Lament 1

I The Importance of Lament in the Psalter 1

II The Loss and Gain of Lament in Our Western Society 2

III Lament in a Post-Critical Culture 3

IV Biblical Causes for Lament 5

V The Old Testament Context for Lament 7

VI The Penitential Psalms 14

2 Psalm 5: A Royal Petition for Protection from Malicious Liars 18

Part I Voice of the Church 18

I Introduction 18

II Lament of the Scholar Monk. Jerome 19

III Jerome's Interpretation of Psalm 5 21

IV The Continuing Influence of Jerome 22

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 23

Part III Commentary 24

I Introduction 24

II Exegesis 28

Part IV Conclusion 42

3 Psalm 6: Pursuit of Moral Excellence 43

Part I Voice of the Church 43

I Gregory of Nyssa 43

II The Analogy of the Eighth Day 44

III The Pursuit of Excellence 46

IV Gregory's Interpretation of Psalm 6 47

V Conclusion 49

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: translation A Royal Petition for Vindication by Salvation from Death 51

Part III Commentary 52

1 Introduction 52

II Exegesis 55

Part IV Conclusion 68

4 Psalm 7: A Royal Petition for Cosmic Justice 71

Part I Voice of the Church 71

I Introduction 71

II The Words of Cush the Benjamite 71

III Literary and Contemporary Assassinations of David 72

IV The Exemplary Pastoral Theology of John Chrysostom 73 V. Chrysostom's Commentary on Psalm 7 75

VI Charlemagne (c. 742-812) 77

VII Alcuin (735-804) 77

VIII Alfred the Great (c. 849-899) 78

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 79

Part III Commentary 83

I Introduction 83

II Exegesis 87

Part IV Conclusion 97

5 Psalm 32: Forgiveness for the Justified 98

Part I Voice of the Church 98

I Introduction 98

II Augustine's Hermeneutic of Divine Grace 99

III The Augustinian "Paul" in Psalm 32 101

IV Augustine's Exposition of Psalm 32 102

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 104

Part III Commentary 106

I Introduction 106

II Exegesis 110

Part IV Conclusion 119

I Doctrine of Sin 119

II Doctrine of Punishment 119

III Doctrine of Forgiveness 120

IV Doctrine of Double Agency 121

6 Psalm 38: 'The Dance between Deserved and Undeserved Suffering 122

Part I Voice of the Church 122

I Introduction 122

II Ambrose as a Mystagogical Interpreter 123

III Augustine (354-430) as Interpreter of the "Whole Christ" 124

IV Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-429) 125 V. Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-460) 125

VI Cassiodorus's Use of Job in Psalm 38 126

VII Medieval Penitential Commentaries 128

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 131

Part III Commentary 133

I Introduction 133

II Exegesis 136

Part IV Conclusion 147

7 Psalm 39: The Lament of Silence in the Pastoral Theology of Erasmus 149

Part I Voice of the Church 149

I The Hermeneutic of Lay Nourishment 149

II Erasmus as a Pastoral Theologian 150

III Erasmus' Use of Psalm 39 as a Pastoral Theology 151

IV Erasmus' Commentary on Psalm 39 153

Part II the Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 156

Part III Commentary 160

I Introduction 160

II Exegesis 164

Part IV Conclusion 173

8 Psalm 44: Lament in National Catastrophe 175

Part I Voice of the Church 175

I Introduction 175

II Origen (c. 185-254) 176

III Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274) 177

IV Martin Luther (1483-1546) 178

V John Calvin (1509-1564) 180

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 182

Part III Commentary 185

I Introduction 185

II Exegesis 190

Part IV Conclusion 208

9 Psalm 102: The Prayer of an Afflicted Person 210

Part I The Voice of the Church 210

I Introduction 210

II Catholic or Traditional Repentance 210

III Reformed or Evangelical Repentance 212

IV Courtly Repentance 216

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 218

Part III Commentary 220

I Introduction 220

II Exegesis 224

Part IV Conclusion 236

10 Psalm 130: Lament of the Sinner before the Triune God of Grace 238

Part I Voice of the Church 238

I Introduction 238

II Lament before the Triune God 239

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 244

Part III Commentary 246

I Introduction 246

II Exegesis 250

Part IV Conclusion 258

11 Psalm 143: 'The Lament of the Justified 259

Part I Voice of the Church 259

I Introduction 259

II The Voice of Totius Christi According to Augustine (354-430) 259

III Late Medieval Penitence and Denys the Carthusian 261

IV The Reformation Commentary of John Calvin 263

Part II Voice of the Psalmist: Translation 266

Part III Commentary 268

I Introduction 268

II Exegesis 273

Part IV Conclusion 282

Glossary 283

Index of Authors 289

Index of Subjects 291

Index of Scripture References 299

What Others Say About the Book

Stone-Campbell Journal

Review of Biblical Literature

John Walton
Wheaton College

Gordon Wenham
Trinity College Bristol

Tremper Longman III
Westmont College

J. I. Packer
Regent College

Haddon Robinson
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Richard S. Hess
Denver Seminary

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

Haddington House Journal

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament

"Excellent resource for graduate students and pastors."

"What is striking is that the authors draw out of each psalm unique pastoral and philosophical insights into lament, so that one might garner enough insights from this commentary to begin building a comprehensive biblical theology of lament. . . . Serves both academy and church well."

"The poignant lament psalms have often given voice to the confession and penitence of God's people through the centuries, but these psalms have also at times been a source of confusion. . . . Readers will find in this volume a treasure trove of wisdom from reliable scholars who know the obstacles inherent in the Hebrew text but also have long experience distilling biblical insights for the benefit of the church. . . . Drink deeply and find hope as you join with the psalmists in their intense interactions with God and their expressions of dependence on him."

"Often neglected, the lament psalms are some of the most pastorally valuable parts of Scripture. This great commentary on ten of these psalms unpacks their riches by drawing on the interpretations of early Church Fathers and leading Reformers and coupling their insights with a detailed modern exegesis of the Hebrew text. Students of the psalms, preachers, and worship leaders will find this a splendid resource."

"Too many Christians, including ministers, ignore the crucial spiritual resources of the lament psalms. As a result, the church does not know how to pray in the midst of suffering. The Psalms as Christian Lament helps rectify this lack by careful analysis of significant psalms read in the light of the interpretation of the early church. I highly recommend this book to all who love the psalms, but I hope ministers in particular will read this book and preach on the lament psalms to the benefit of the church."

"In this volume Bruce Waltke, James Houston, and Erika Moore cover a selection of psalms that strikingly combine sadness and sorrow with faith and hope. . . . Masterful exegesis here blends with luminous theological perspectives and pastoral insights."

"If you plan to preach on these hymns of hurt and confusion, this book is a good place to begin. Each psalm is translated in a helpful way, which is vital for preaching these psalms well."

"Here is the finest of guides to laments in the book of Psalms. The authors recover a cogent interpretation of personal sin that forms the basis of the need for God's redemption. The cry of lament begins in the heart of the psalmist -- and of his readers — and proceeds to express complete dependence on God. Journey on this ancient path of laments that bring us into God's presence as no other texts of Scripture do."

"The Psalms as Christian Lament admirably mixes history of interpretation with exegesis. Every interpreter is situated in place and time, and thus studying history of interpretation uncovers blind spots for modern interpreters. In addition to Houston's helpful history of interpretation sections, Waltke's and Moore's exegetical work helpfully describes and interprets the Hebrew Psalms. . . . This work will serve pastors who want to think critically about the text and how the text has been used through the centuries, as well as interested readers who want to understand the Psalms and their use of lament."

"Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke brings to the table over six decades of Hebrew exegetical expertise. Combined with James Houston's specialties of spiritual and historical theology, this distinctive commentary provides the best of current exegesis with the often-ignored voices of the Church's ancient heritage. . . . Serious expositors should consider adding The Psalms as Christian Lament to their collection, as it embodies the most up-to-date biblical scholarship by world-class specialists from an evangelical, devotional perspective."

"A welcome addition to the growing literature on the book of Psalms, particularly those focused on lament."

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