Davis, Dale Ralph. Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24.
I was introduced to Dale Ralph Davis by Ray Van Neste and Chad Davis during my time at Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson, TN. There are many things about them and that time for which I am thankful; this recommendation is second only to my appreciation of Ray’s Jedi-mastery of puns (“these are the groans you’re looking for”).
At the time, we were preaching through Joshua, and I was given Dr. Davis’ No Falling Words from the Focus on the Bible series as a commentary to help with sermon preparation. The way in which he clearly explained the text and pointed the heart and mind to Jesus from it was water in the wasteland of youthful ignorance for me.
With that experience in mind, I eagerly picked up his small book of sermons on Psalms 1-12: The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life. Later, I was only too excited to find that another volume on the Psalms was available: Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24.
I’ve interacted with a bit of Dr. Davis’ take on Psalm 18 and “Lead On, O King Eternal” previously on the blog. I hope the respect for his teaching was as evident in that post as it is in this one; I really did wrestle with whether or not to scrap the song from our music at Grace based on that chapter. I can hardly pay a higher compliment to a teacher than to say, “I really had to think hard and investigate what I do and think based on what you say.”
For each psalm, Dr. Davis combines an agility with Hebrew, biblical theology, and passion for Jesus with a preacher’s cadence and clarity. In many cases the style reminded me of Adrian Rogers, who in my mind is a preacher par excellence. For example, see the alliterative splendor from Psalm 19:
What We Must See: God’s Silent Splendor
What We Must Hear: God’s Clearest Speech
What We Should Say: God’s Prayerful Servant
or those from Psalm 21:
God’s people remember a particular deliverance
The king enjoys an indestructible stability
The people anticipate a final triumph.
The language is lyrical, metered–truly a preacher’s cadence. It flows. It’s poetic and creative, but not contrived. Aside from the many instances of showing me a splendor of the text, I am indebted to Dr. Davis for teaching me about preaching. It’s far, far more than information delivery; it’s far, far higher than showboating or mere oration. It’s engaging the heart and mind with the beautiful, painful truth and showing Jesus as greater and higher than anything else.