A nonfiction debut offers an exhaustive explication of one of the most famous psalms of the Bible.
Alexander’s work is a book-length, line-by-line guided tour of Psalm 37, which some readers will recall as rolling in the great, long cadences of the King James translation, urging the faithful of ancient Judea to “Trust in the Lord, and do good;… so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” The author tends to prefer the modern clarity of the New American Standard translation, but this volume isn’t for biblical scholars in any case. Rather, it’s a combination of church group elements: lively discussion, close textual reading, personal anecdotes, and workbook-style discussion questions with space for readers to write in answers. And the overriding theme of Alexander’s interpretation is the note struck repeatedly in the psalm: trust. The faithful must place their complete trust in God, regarding every aspect of their lives, rather than hedging their bets. “Our lack of trust doesn’t keep us safe; it makes us useless in the Kingdom of God,” Alexander writes with typical quotable directness. “Trust is the bedrock of obedience.” The subject of justice comes up quite often in the poem, for instance, with the writer assuring listeners that the wicked only prosper for a little while and that God’s sense of fairness remains absolute and persistent. Alexander illustrates this and many other points with stories from her many years working actively in Christian communities, and these tales go a long way toward humanizing what would otherwise have been only a long work of exegesis. But Alexander brings everything back around to trust, even going so far as to write: “Father, it surely means more to You for us to say, ‘I trust you,’ than for us to say the words, ‘I love you.’ ” The strength and clarity of these glosses should make this a valuable work for Christian study sessions.
A careful, heartfelt textual deconstruction of Psalm 37 that reassures its readers: “He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.”