Book Review: In the Lord I Take Refuge

My Rating: If you are looking for something

Level: The devotions are short and easy; ESV is somewhat awkward for Psalms; long (400+), but meant to be read over 150 days

Summary

A full Psalm, then a short (usually less than a page) devotion/commentary follows. There is a short introduction, but I do wish it was longer, and went into a little more depth how to use the Psalms or the different types, etc. 

My Thoughts

For thousands of years Christians (and Jews, thousands before them) have used Psalms for devotions, prayers, songs, and meditations, so you have find dozens of devotionals like this on the market. Honestly, this one is kind of odd. You may notice the subheading ‘150 daily devotions through the Psalms’ and remember that there are 150 Psalms. If you are like me, you may think, surely it’s isn’t a one to one ratio. Some Psalms are only a few lines, while Psalm 119 is longer than some other books in the Bible. However, that is what they have chosen to do. The actual devotion is relatively similar in length, regardless of the length of the Psalm, so if you are setting time apart each day to read, it will vary wildly. 

The devotions seem to have a bit of a theme with in each of the five books, but maybe that was just my mind looking for a pattern. Ultimately, it is always going to be interesting to get someone else’s thoughts, as one line may have stuck out to you, but the author has chosen something else to focus on. Ortlund seems to go a little more narrow/specific, while other devotions will speak of the Psalms (or portion) as a whole. This isn’t necessarily bad or good, but I did catch myself sometimes not even remembering the line he decided to write on and having to go back and read it. This can be helpful, as it teaches you something you missed, but I had the sense, reading through this, that it might have been better to have the notes first. I don’t think I’ve seen that done, so maybe it isn’t a good idea. That would work for more of a commentary, but these devotions are more on the reflective side. They are well written and often insightful and certainly comes from a strong pastoral mind/heart. 

The book is published by Crossway, so it uses the English Standard Version (ESV). I’m not a big fan of the ESV for Psalms, as it is often too literal, while at other times still attempts to use ‘traditional’ or poetic language. I’ve heard rumors that Crossway is going to write an independent Psalter, which I think would be incredible, but until then, I think there are better options than this translation. 

Overall, I’d highly recommend any devotional on the Psalms, or just reading them all the way though in a month (the various Book of Common Prayer editions out there have reading plans in them, or just search). As I mentioned, I found the one to one Psalm/devotion to be an odd editorial decision, one I wouldn’t really recommend. However, most of the devotions are strong, and if you’ve read many of the others, and are looking for something, this would be an edition to add to your list. 

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