In this work, Daniel Estes introduces you to the Old Testament poetical books—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Each chapter explores one of the five poetical books. Estes first summarizes some of the book’s key issues. He then devotes the main portion of the chapter to an exposition of the book, interacting with major commentaries and recent studies. Each chapter concludes with an extensive bibliography, allowing for further exploration.
Within his given format Estes approaches the introductory material straightforwardly, while slightly tweaking his expositional format. He provides full treatments of Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, but changes slightly the presentation of the Psalms and of Proverbs. In Psalms he identifies 10 types of psalms and treats each one according to its form and typical contents. Similarly in Proverbs, Estes identifies topics and synthesizes them into a coherent exposition on the books contents.
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“A second approach regards the imprecations as the strictly human and sinful expressions of the psalmists.” (Page 172)
“When Song of Songs is interpreted literally as a unified song cycle, a recognizable purpose emerges. Song of Songs, in a manner evidenced only infrequently in the biblical text (cf. Prov. 5:15–19), extols the richness of human erotic love as a gift from God.” (Page 401)
“If, however, 4:1–5:1 represents the wedding of the couple, then a strong exegetical case can be sustained for Song of Songs being a celebration of sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage—a position in agreement with the rest of the Bible. Erotic love within the marriage relationship, then, does not lie outside the sphere of God’s intended blessing; rather, it is God’s gift to be received and enjoyed.” (Page 401)
“As expressions of the heart in worship, the psalms are written in poetry, because poetry is better suited to accomplish their purpose than is prose.” (Page 144)
“One recognizable purpose for the book is to challenge the mistaken assumption that personal sin is always the cause of suffering.” (Page 23)
This is an eminently readable and useful book for the study of the wisdom books and Psalms. . . . this work opens up ways of studying and understanding them that will take most Christians much farther in their appreciation of these compositions and of the Psalter in which they are found. Estes also skillfully leads readers into a new appreciation for the wisdom books, which are often misunderstood and underappreciated. Students, pastors, and even highly motivated laypeople will find much to treasure in this book.
—David M. Howard Jr., professor of Old Testament, Bethel Seminary
In this engaging and helpful survey of the types and themes of wisdom literature, Estes . . . provides a generous introduction for readers interested in the interpretation of these books. . . . Estes’ survey represents all major positions on introductory matters in judicious fashion. . . . Estes’ book joins the other volumes in this series in providing significant introductions to the literature of the Old Testament.