Psalms 120-134 are known as “Songs of Ascent.” They were sung by Hebrew pilgrims as they traveled the road to Jerusalem, the highest city in Palestine, for the great worship festivals. Eugene Peterson uses each of these songs to describe a portion of what takes place along the walk of faith, as we travel upward toward God. The chapter titles include: Repentance, Worship, Service, Security, Joy, Perseverance, Humility, Community and more. I love Eugene Peterson! He never fails to engage and enlighten me.
In the updated edition, Peterson uses his modern version of the Psalms, from his translation, The Message. Many will like this, but I preferred to go back and read from the NIV, as I enjoy the familiarity. His goal is to encourage people to once more pray the Psalms, as an encouragement to pray all their emotions, good, bad and messy. We can take it all to God, in fact we must if we want to progress in the Christian life. According to Peterson we won’t change overnight: it takes “a long obedience in the same direction.” This is not a popular idea in our “give it to me now” culture.
“There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.”
This book was recommended to me in a comment by my friend, Nancy, and I heartily recommend it as well. It’s not a difficult read, and the chapters could easily be read one per day, as part of a devotional practice. Has anyone else read this book, or others by Eugene Peterson? If so, let us know what you think, we’d love to hear.
P.S. Check out the archives for another Peterson book I reviewed, Eat This Book.