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The Psalms can be very helpful, but they can also be hard. Following on from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life and Slogging Along the Paths of Righteousness, Dale Ralph Davis delves into Psalms 25 to 37. Using his own recognisable humour and razor–sharp observations these expositions help us to engage with the conflict in these twelve psalms.
Rawderson_Rangel | Mar 1, 2023 |
PGWilliams71 | Jan 31, 2021 |
Any preacher who has read Ralph Davis' commentaries on the Old Testament historical books, or heard him preach, will be in no doubt that he is a man who has that rare combination of exegetical thoroughness, no-nonsense application, warm-hearted pastoral concern, and not a little dry humour to boot. It is a brave preacher who will preach from a passage in Joshua - 2 Kings without at least consulting Davis first.

The logic of Davis' exegesis is usually so compelling, that the preacher can often be left asking himself the question, Why couldn't I see that? This makes this new book (full title: The Word became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts) extremely appealing.

After an introductory chapter on the right approach to the Old Testament, Davis deals with seven different ways in which Old Testament writers get their readers' attention and make their point. Each chapter is full of brief, but pertinent, examples from Scripture, which makes one wish a Scriptural index of the passages discussed had been added.

Of course this little book (150 pages) cannot contain all the answers. That is not its intention. But what it does, it does remarkably well. It opens our eyes to the riches of the Old Testament, and the skill and insight of those responsible for its content (both human and divine). It reminds us that exegesis is truly a hard work. This book makes clear that there is no magical formula that will make our sermons just fall into place. Davis' wisdom has come through years of patient study. This book may speed things up for us, but it won't make endeavour unnecessary. This in turn reminds us of our great need for the Spirit to help our study. But, just as importantly, this book fills us with enthusiasm for the Old Testament. I wanted to preach a sermon every time I turned the page! As I read the book with an open Bible, what I learned was too good not to share (just ask my wife!). Davis' intention was that the book is to be `an exercise in reading the Old Testament for fun and profit'. It is certainly that.

With this book, Ralph Davis has rescued us from any excuse to fear or neglect Old Testament narrative, or to put it out of the reach of our congregations through shoddy workmanship. If you can buy only one book on preaching this year, put this one at the very top of your list.
mark_read | 2 other reviews | Aug 13, 2020 |
Well thought out, expertly written and calling on many, many sources both biblical and historical. The writer draws on his own experience as well as that of many Christian and none Christian experts. A worthy read for anyone interested in what is very much the bibles 'Game of Thrones ' history of the israelite kings.
spooks101 | 3 other reviews | Dec 4, 2018 |
I am constantly on the hunt for solid commentaries - especially from the Old Testament. Like a lot of preachers, I can be guilty of focusing on the New Testament, a "sin" that my Hebrew professor called building a "canon within the canon."

I recently taught through 1 Samuel. In preparation, I read through 1 Samuel by Richard D. Phillips. I found that commentary, from the Reformed Expository series, to be extremely helpful. One of the more helpful authors he frequently quotes was Dale Ralph Davis. So I naturally ordered Davis' commentary on 2 Samuel.

I was not disappointed. Davis does an amazing job of giving historical context to the book, providing enough technical insight to equip the teacher without bogging down in superfluous details, and applying the text to contemporary life. I know little about Dale Ralph Davis. But I can vouch for this commentary. It is one that I will use frequently in the future and recommend heartily to those, like me, who are searching for solid OT resources.
RobSumrall | May 14, 2016 |
1 Kings is a continuation of a narrative of the history of Israel which begins in 1 Samuel and continues through into 1 & 2 Kings.While we so often struggle with the events and issues of the book of 1st Kings, Ralph Davis helps us to see how it we can apply to the contemporary settings of the 21st century. As usual Ralph Davis uses pastoral application and laces it with his own sense of humour. He is noted for tackling scholarship head on.
1 vote
Paul_Brunning | 3 other reviews | Apr 26, 2016 |
2 Kings provides a fast-paced narrative of insight into the history of Israel under its monarchy. This book is a continuation of the narrative begun in 1 Samuel, and continued through 2 Samuel and 1 Kings. Ralph finishes it off with a captivating and rewarding journey through 2 Kings.Written between 561 BC and 538 BC, 2nd Kings gives us a warning about the consequences of sin, especially the catastrophic repercussions of Israel's love affair with idolatry. Despite struggling with other problems, we see that the Jewish people learned from their experience. They never made a mistake of this enormity again.Through prophets such as Elisha and Elijah we see God's compassion for his people and the opportunity for repentance. An opportunity spoilt by Judah, climaxing with the subjugation of the kingdom by the Babylonians.Illuminating, accessible and laced with his unique sense of humour, Davis' practical devotional expository applies events to the contemporary reader providing parallels to alert us in the 21st century.
Paul_Brunning | Apr 26, 2016 |
This is a wonderful book, putatively about the task of preaching from Old Testament narrative texts, but written with such clarity, insight and freshness that I find it has much to offer anyone who is called to preach God's word to God's people.

Davis believes that there is a prejudice, occasionally spoken but primarily inferred, against preaching from the Old Testament. The biases include the way God can be so easily be perceived as a God of vengeance, the admitted difficulty of wrestling with stories that seem to have little relevance to our day, and the fact that the Bible's hero, Jesus, is at best a hidden actor in the Old Testament. And after acknowledging the validity of these objections, Davis calls preachers to jump feet-first into the waters of the Old Testament, for there are indeed riches to be found there if we would but take the time and make the effort to learn how to handle the narratives well.

Davis deals with the basics of Old Testament narrative interpretation in nine easy-to read chapters. He is not esoteric in any way but is always firmly anchored in the text and practical in method. Rather than stretching for an interpretation, one which may or may not be accurate and relevant, he teaches how to dig a bit more deeply and how to ask penetrating questions of the text, to find the riches God has provided for his people. His book is filled with generous examples and his prose is wonderful to read, using a style that is informal and yet highly informative. I highly commend this book for all preachers of God's word.
BradKautz | 2 other reviews | Apr 23, 2014 |
I found this to be a delightful little book and very enjoyable to read. Its primary help in preaching would probably be as a commentary on individual passages of Scripture, but there is plenty of help in knowing how to approach different kinds of Old Testament narrative literature. (With his insights, I preached one sermon covering the entire book of Exodus.) The answer is not to sanitize or allegorize the stories but to emphasize how the “chemistry of divine providence takes the sludge and crud and confusion of our doings and makes it the soil that produces the fruit of his faithfulness” (41). Indeed, that is the theme that keeps popping up: “God takes the deepest depravity and the grossest messes and makes them conduits of his grace” (67).

Though this would be a good read even for non-preachers, there is plenty of good, practical advice for those who are trying to preach these texts. For example, “we must remember that there’s a huge amount of stuff that we study that we don’t bring into the pulpit” (130). This may cause a problem for some. “Of course, if you don’t give full coverage to, say, Naaman’s leprosy, you’re sure to have some character come up to you afterwards who has always had a special interest in biblical ‘leprosy’ and biblical diseases and who has read a 1982 article by a gynecologist in Tasmania whose hobby is ancient dermatology and who proposes a hitherto unproposed proposal about, of all people, Naaman’s disease.” What’s to be done in such a case? “There are some people who need to be ignored” (ibid.).

Unfortunately, there is no Scripture index in the back. However, if you are careful to create your own as you read, you will have a very helpful, unique, reference to use when preaching Old Testament texts.½
trbixby | 2 other reviews | Jul 26, 2011 |
Davis' commentary is down-to-earth and devotional. Exactly what i was looking for in a treatment of 1 Kings.
1 vote
SwampIrish | 3 other reviews | Oct 3, 2010 |
An exceptional commentary. An absolute must for anyone studying the book of 1 Kings.
1 vote
stephendr | 3 other reviews | Oct 7, 2009 |
I'm not one who generally buys Bible commentaries. Nor am I one who generally buys books of any kind by an author I have never heard of. The reason I bought this particular commentary (from an author I had never heard of) is because I have a slight addiction to heavily discounted books.

This commentary by Dale Ralph Davis will, I'm afraid, only further my addiction. Its value far exceeds what I paid for it.

Davis uses fresh, succinct, and insightful language to convey the meaning of each passage and to draw out its pastoral implications.

Allow me to share a couple snippets.

Speaking of Israel's infidelity and Yahweh's wrath in Judges 3, Davis says,

"Yahweh's wrath is the heat of his jealous love by which he refuses to let go of his people; he refuses to allow his people to remain comfortable in sin. Serving Cushan-rishathaim may not sound like salvation to us — and it isn't, but, if it forces us to lose our grip on Baal, it may be the beginning of salvation. We must confess that Yahweh's anger is not good news nor is it bad news but good bad news."

And again, regarding the incident of Samson and the lion in Judges 14:

"The mangled lion is meant as Yahweh's sign to Samson. It shows him what Yahweh can and will do through him...

We must not ignore such previews. David argued that if Yahweh made him able to wipe out the lions and bears that attacked Jesse's sheep, he would also give him guts and skill to knock off the King Kong of Philistia (1 Sam. 17:34–37). Mark suggests that if the disciples had understood the feeding of the 5,000 they would not have been astounded at Jesus' presence on the lake (Mark 6:51–52). No, you needn't expect lions to come roaring out of vineyards; but you should notice this pattern in God's ways. He will, by some smaller episode of deliverance or provision, show you how adequate he is so that you will be encouraged to rely on him in upcoming and possibly more demanding circumstances."
1 vote
peterp6 | 1 other review | Sep 6, 2008 |
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