Fearn: Christian Focus, 2016

This volume is designed to take the reader through the whole Psalter in 73 days. Dr Motyer has provided his own translation, has added some analysis and notes, and given a ‘pause for thought’ at the end of each section. The result will greatly enhance any reader’s grasp of the 150 Psalms that God has given us.

At times the translations are rather unmemorable, or even clunky. Instead of ‘the fool has said in his heart “There is no God”, we have ‘the spiritually unprincipled person’. Psalm 16:2 has ‘You are my Sovereign One; my good is not additional to you’, which at first was something of a struggle for this reviewer to grasp. Worse still is Psalm 145:7, ‘The remembrance of that abundant thing, your goodness, they will pour out, and shout aloud of your righteousness.’ ‘Godlets’ in Psalm 96:5 requires commentary, which it gets, but as it stands, it reads rather oddly.

The explanations and commentaries are usually very helpful, but occasionally one might demur. Should David have fled from Saul? Dr Motyer thinks he should not have (see Psalm 11), but my conscience is not so tender. The imprecatory conclusion to Psalm 137 is bypassed, although other imprecatory Psalms are tackled.

There are suggestive comments, notably ‘There can hardly be a psalm in the whole collection that speaks so plainly to the world of the twenty-first century as Psalm 52.’ Psalm 92 draws the felicitous summary: ‘The world’s ambition is to “stay young”; the Bible’s to grow old fruitfully.’ The ‘pauses for thought’ – all 73 of them – are very worthwhile. Almost at random, one could mention the one attached to Psalm 37, which is incisive in its simplicity and insight. For anyone wishing to work through the Psalms, arm yourself with your favourite translation, use this volume, and prepare for a feast.

Psalms by the Day

A New Devotional Translation

Alec Motyer | Christian Focus

Available at Reformers Bookshop