"What you need to know, when you need to know it." This Bible companion text is an excellent tool for referencing and applying the Psalms to our lives today.
The first section works as an introduction to the Psalms in general. We see the different ways the Psalms can be used (songs, ceremony, prayer, the book of Psalms) as well as the different types of Psalms (hymns of praise/thanksgiving, laments, etc.). There is also a brief discussion on the superscriptions which begin some of the Psalms. There are further discussions on the poetry devices used, but what may be the most important part of this section is the part that discusses ways we can use the Psalms and apply them to our lives today.
Part 2 is filled with charts for quick reference, including one that lists the types of Psalms, giving you all the Psalms that fall into that category. This makes it very easy to find the type of Psalm you are looking for, especially if you are using the Psalms as a form of prayer.
Part 3 is where the discussion of the individual Psalms begins. Each Psalm is covered by one page of information, with the exception of Psalms 42 & 43, which are covered together on the same page. This page is broken down into seven sections:
1) Theme: gives the main idea of the Psalm
2) Type: gives the type of Psalm (hymn, lament, etc.)
3) Author: if the author is known
4) Background: the story behind the Psalm (if known)
5) Structure: looked at more from the poetic side. Talks of stanzas and lines and how they are broken down.
6) Special Notes: any unfamiliar words will be defined here. This area also lists other places in the Bible where the Psalm is referenced.
7) Reflection: gives us things to think about as to how we can apply the Psalm to our lives today. This area may also include additional scripture references.
The use of color and pictures on every page really draws you in, and the organization is wonderful. This is a great tool for an introductory study of the Psalms.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Zondervan.
"The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms" helps the reader better understand the purpose and meaning of the Psalms. I've never really understood why people liked the psalms. Yes, there are some nice ones, but overall it seemed like David wrote one every time life turned bad so he could vent and complain, though he always did end saying he really does trust God. I know God had final say on what was put into the Bible, but it almost seemed like the only reason so many similar Psalms (usually by David) were included was because he was king, and who's going to tell him that he can't put all of his compositions in the psalm book. ;)
In any case, I figured I was missing the point of the Psalms. I was thrilled to win this book, and I'd say this truly is an "essential Bible companion." I found the information at the beginning the most eye-opening, as it finally helped me understand the purpose and form of the psalms. You do need to read the beginning sections before the specific psalm entries to best appreciate what's said in those entries. So, especially if you view the psalms as I did, I'd highly recommend this book.
The book started off with several sections giving background and cultural information about the psalms in general. It talked about how the Psalms were used (songs, ceremonies, prayers, etc.); the types of psalms (hymns, praise, thanksgiving, etc.); who wrote them; how to understand the Hebrew style of poetry found in the psalms; and how to personalize the psalms.
Then there were several quick reference charts. Then each psalm had a page with the following information: theme of the psalm, type, author, background information, how the psalm is structured, special notes (like if the verses from this psalm are quoted elsewhere in the Bible), and reflection on the psalm. Each entry also had a full-color photograph that was loosely related to the theme of the psalm.