Psalms

Article excerpt

Psalms. By James Limburg. Westminster Bible Companion. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000, 509 pp., n.p. paper.

The commentary forms part of a series written to "help the laity of the church read the Bible more clearly and intelligently" (p. xi). Included are a six-page introduction, commentary on each psalm (Psalms 9-10 are considered one), and a short bibliography. There are no indexes or footnotes. Samples of titles given to individual psalms are "The Way to Go" (Psalm 1), "The Plotting Politicians" (Psalm 2), "A Mighty Fortress" (Psalm 46), "Rock Music" (Psalm 60), "From King David to Duke Ellington" (Psalm 150). Translations of each psalm, including the ancient superscriptions where they exist, precede introductory remarks, the latter consisting typically of personal incidents from the commentator's life, discussion of its role vis-a-vis previous psalms, suggestions regarding an ancient life-setting, and observations on the psalm's structure. General summaries follow according to paragraph divisions.

The approach is predominantly form-critical, although the canonical method is given due regard. Psalms is categorized as "The People's Book" because in it are songs, reflections, and advice for all of life's experiences, and so it is a "collection of 150 psalms" (p. xiii). Summarizing statements such as "lament and praise are the two fundamental themes running through the Psalms" and "a majority of the Psalms arose out of two fundamental situations in the lives of God's people" (p. xiv), confirm the governing approach. The basic theme is praise, since "the name of the book of Psalms in its original Hebrew form is one word: tehillim" (p. …