Signposts

Tidball wrote Signposts at a time in his life when he was in intense need. The book offers a map, as he says in the introduction, ‘to help you find your way, watch out for points of interest and make connections between one place and another’, a purpose which it excellently fulfils.

The one-page comments on each Psalm provide a brief indication of the context, which Tidball calls Orientation, a Map to indicate the way through, and a section called Signpost, which applies what has been studied. This is a book for study and reflection with the Bible in one hand and the book in the other.

Let me give just three examples of the way the author deals with the material. Psalm 3 is located (the Orientation) at the time of Absalom’s rebellion; then the Map identifies (i) the valley: the enemies he faced (vv1-2), (ii) the mountaintop: the God he trusted (vv 3-7), (iii) the plateau: the faith he expressed (v 8). The Signpost highlights that even in a time of great stress, David was able to sleep, and asks whether we can leave so trustingly with God the things that trouble us. The Map for Psalm 13 identifies (i) a cry of desperation: the problem stated (vv1, 2), (ii) a cry for transformation: the problem staunched (vv3, 4), (iii) a cry of expectation: the problem solved (vv5, 6), and the Signpost talks about our impatience, and God’s timing. Psalm 96 is placed at the time when the Ark of the Covenant goes to Jerusalem; the Map identifies ever-widening circles of God’s sovereignty, with a call to the nations of the earth to praise God. The Signpost refers to the slogan ‘think globally, act locally’ in terms of environmental challenges, but applicable also to the interconnectedness of God’s people throughout the world. For each Psalm, the sections are briefly expanded, using never more than one page – a superb example of scholarly and succinct writing.

Between each block of 5 Psalms there is an informative page on subjects such as the justice of God, Covenant love, Zion and the temple, personal lament, community lament, psalms of vengeance, the Psalms and the Messiah, the Psalms and the cross of Jesus, the Psalms and Revelation and many more.

The scholarship in this book shines through but does not daunt. There are references to commentaries, but the book flows easily. Finally, in the Afterword, amongst other helpful ideas, Tidball offers the suggestion of a local church holding a Psalmfest in which the Psalms could be presented through artwork, music, drama, testimony and guided meditation. What a brilliant idea! This book would furnish a wealth of material to use in such an event. It has brought the Psalms to life for me and I warmly recommend it.

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