Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review--The Word of Promise: The Gift of Psalms

The Word of Promise: The Gift of Psalms is a selection of fifty of the most popular Psalms with accompanying devotionals. The book includes a three CDs which contain audio recordings of thirty of the Psalms and devotionals read by famous actors. Jason Alexander, a.k.a. George Costanza, even makes his voice heard.

The Psalms have always played an important role in the liturgical life of the church. It was once a requirement for ministers to memorize all of the Psalms and they served as the earliest book of "hymns." The Psalms give expression to a wide range of human emotion and show that fear, joy, depression, and anger are normal parts of the Christian life. Hopefully this book will introduce some Christians who have only been exposed to happy-clappy, Jesus is my boyfriend, hymns and praise choruses to the richness of the Psalms.

The translation used is the NKJV, which is my favorite all-around translation. The readings were a mixed bag. How the Psalms should be read (at least in a non-liturgical setting) is highly subjective. In my opinion, there were a few good readings of the Psalms but none that were really outstanding. There were a number of truly horrible readings that made me cringe.

The accompanying devotionals were really very horrible. The Lamb of God tells us that all of Scripture is about the Lamb of God. There is no real distinction to be made between Messianic and non-Messianic Psalms. They are all Messianic Psalms. The devotionals (with one or two exceptions) were not centered upon Christ even when they accompanied what most evangelicals would call Messianic Psalms. The devotionals were centered around me and what I need to do--study the Bible, be ready for assignments from God, have an impact on the world, try my best, etc. The majority of the devotionals could have been written with little or no change if Jesus had never been born and died for us.

I found the audio recordings of the devotional recordings extremely irritating. They're all read by the same guy in the generic voice of a worship leader/minister who is always trying to sound very emotional and passionate about what he is saying. The recording also suffers from some editing errors. Some of the sentences in the devotionals repeat themselves even during some of the prayers. The constant references to chapters and verses of other Bible passages as well as the occasional references to abbreviations for other Bible translations were also irritating.

My advice is to not spend you money on this thing. Wait for someone to release a recording of the Psalms chanted in Byzantine or Gregorian style with Christ-centered and cross-focused accompanying devotionals. Or if you can't wait, dust off the Alexander Scourby.

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