The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms


This work by Nancy L. DeClaisse-Walford, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner is the most complete and detailed one-volume commentary available on the Psalms. Significantly, the volume reflects the combined insights of three superior (younger) biblical scholars.

DeClaisse-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner offer a succinct introduction to the Psalter, a new translation of all the psalms that takes special account of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and individual entries on each psalm unit. Throughout the book they draw on state-of-the-art research on the canonical shape and shaping of the Psalter and evidence a nuanced attention to the poetic nature of the psalms.


Martin Luther captured how central the psalms are to the life of faith, when he wrote that the Psalter

Might well be called a little Bible. in it is comprehended most beautifully
and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible. It is really a fine enchi
ridion or handbook. in fact, I have a notion that the Holy Spirit wanted to
take the trouble himself to compile a short Bible and book of examples of
all Christendom or all saints, so that anyone who could not read the whole
Bible would have anyway almost an entire summary of it, comprised in
one little book.

One of the reasons that the psalms are so beloved is that they express the full range of human emotions before God. the hymns of praise shout out the soaring joy of those who bear witness to God’s faithfulness. the prayers for help give voice to the groaning pain of those who long for — but cannot find — a faithful God in their suffering. the poems of trust express the confident inner faith of those who trust, in spite of the quaking external realities all around. the songs of thanksgiving ring with the renewed song of those who have passed through a dark valley of crisis. the instructional psalms pass on the wisdom of those who have gone before to generations yet unborn. the imprecatory psalms cry out for justice against those who oppress. and the royal psalms bear witness to the mystery that God has chosen human beings as the agents through which God is at work in a broken world. Because the Psalter draws on the full range of human experiencing and emotions, William Brown has said that “the Psalter is … Scripture’s most integrated corpus.”

This great diversity of emotion and perspective is the source of the

1. “Preface to the Psalter,” trans. C. M. Jacobs, rev. E. T. Bachman, in Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1960), p. 254.

2. Seeing the Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), p. 1.

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