Review of ‘The Psalms, ESV’

the-psalms-esvThe Psalms, ESV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014). Hardcover

The Psalter is the prayerbook of Israel and the Church. Unfortunately, many American evangelicals do not make regular use of it in their personal and corporate worship. Some years ago, I began using it for morning and evening prayer, and I have found my faith in God enriched through the practice.

A few months ago, I discovered that Crossway had published The Psalms, using its English Standard Version. The ESV is a good translation, though it is not the translation I use most regularly. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the beauty and utility of The Psalms and decided to use it for personal worship.

What makes The Psalms helpful?

First, it presents the psalms in a single column, removes explanatory subheads and notes, and moves the chapter and verse numbers to the side so that they do not intrude on the reader’s vision. This has the effect of emphasizing the poetic structure of the individual psalms and concentrating the reader’s attention on their words. The Psalms is a beautiful presentation of the Psalter’s beautiful prayers.

Second, The Psalms is well constructed, with a leather-like cover over hard board. (A top-grain leather edition is also available, as well as a standard hardcover edition.) Its pages are thick–unlike the onion paper of most Bibles–and hence durable for daily use. Finally, it fits easily into the hand, large enough to accommodate pages with a good-size font (11 point, in fact), but not so large that it is unwieldy. This is a prayer book-sized Psalter, easy to hold and small enough to fit into a suit pocket or purse.

Finally, though the ESV is not my preferred translation, as noted above, I find its translation of the psalms very helpful. The word-for-word (or formally equivalent translation) retains much of the language of the King James Version (and its English successor translations) without being antiquarian.

Obviously, if you don’t use the Psalter daily, there is no special need to purchase The Psalms in any translation–let alone the ESV–when you can simply read them in your Bible. On the other hand, if you do use the Psalter as a daily prayer book, The Psalms is an option that you should look into.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.


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