Saturday, October 11, 2014

John V. Fesko, Songs of A Suffering King

This is a brief devotional book that deals in sequence with the first eight Psalms. The treatment of each psalm follows the same order. First, Fesko presents the psalm in its original context: “What was occurring in the life of David to occasion the psalm?” Second, he considers the connection of the psalm to Christ: “In what way does the psalm speak of Christ?” Finally, he considers the connection of the psalm to the church. In this last section he primarily considers the application of the psalm to the individual believer, as can easily be seen by reading the conclusion to each discussion. Fesko also provides each devotional with some questions for further study, and a metrical version of the psalm so that it might be sung.

For the most part, it is a helpful set of devotions. I do have some concern with a statement he makes in the Introduction. He says, “First, the entire Psalter is connected to the person and work of Christ” (2). He defends this by an appeal to Luke 24:44. Such an appeal (and it is common among Reformed thinkers today) strikes me as reading too much into Jesus’ statement. Jesus is not saying here that each and every passage in the Old Testament refers to Christ, though that seems to be how Fesko takes it. It’s also the reading that David Murray in his book Jesus on Every Page takes. The result of such an approach, however, tends to produce a certain amount of fanciful exegesis in pursuit of the goal of finding Jesus in every text. Fesko effectively admits this, for example, in his comments on Psalm 3. In drawing parallels between David and Christ in this psalm, he says, “The parallels are not precise—they usually are not—but it was Jesus who was the  Messiah, and throughout his life there were those who sought to kill him” (41). The fact that the parallels are usually not precise should caution us about an undisciplined eagerness to find Jesus in each and every Old Testament text. 

I can give this book a limited recommendation, urging the reader to read with care. 


Kurt Scharping said...

Yes. What is true of the whole is not necessarily true of all the parts. I may not be able to lift an airplane. But that doesn't mean I can't lift a cushion on the plane.

Vaughn Hathaway said...

Cutting to the chase: when I see Fesko's name attached to something, it immediately is suspect to me.