The Lord Reigns A Theological Handbook to the Psalms

Issues pertaining to the relationship between God and human beings have
always drawn a lot of controversy and interest. This is especially
considering the differing interpretations of the bible, which may be
influenced by the varying experiences through which individuals go.
Nevertheless, numerous literary works have been written in an effort to
explain God, and how reality can be understood. This is the case for
James Mays’ book, “The Lord Reigns: A Theological Handbook to the
Psalms”. This book comes as a statement of faith, as well as a
presentation of the worldview that God exists, and every other form of
reality can only be comprehended in line with God and his sovereignty.
This book presents a better way of comprehending the relationship that
exists between God and his creation through addressing crucial nature of
language that relates to the reign of God as shown in the book of
Psalms. This book offers a considerable proposal pertaining to the
theology of the Psalter and is divided into varied parts (Mays, 1994).
In this book’s preface, Mays postulates that the volume can come as a
supplement to the commentary he offered in the interpretation series,
while also stating that the volume has been organized around issues
pertaining to the use of psalms as a scripture and a liturgy and not
around questions that are usually attached to or that usually relate to
critical scholarship. It is worth noting that the target audience, in
this case is the clergy, as well as theological students. The volume is
perfectly fitting to its subtitle as a theological handbook that comes
up with crucial articulations pertaining to Psalms’ appropriation by
the church. Mays brings across a careful argument, which deserves to be
read in a careful manner irrespective of the fact that the handbook, in
some instances, enumerates items in a style that seems a tad
In Part 1, the book introduces the proposal that The Lord Reigns comes
as liturgy and theological center pertaining to the psalms. The writer
states that the statement Yhwh malak (which means, The Lord Reigns)
comes as the organizing center or root metaphor of Psalms, while
interpreting it with regard to God’s sovereignty (Mays, 1994). God, as
a sovereign, has a special place, people and person. Of particular note
is the fact that it acknowledges that the lives of special people are
ordered by the sovereign via the law.
In Part 2 and 3, Mays explores the Psalter’s prayers and praise with
regard to this theological center. Mays states that prayers make up the
insistent pleadings that the lowly make to the divine. Prayers encourage
Psalter’s readers to speak about the finitude through which they go,
as well as the worst pertaining to their lives. On the same note, they
examine issues pertaining to suffering, with Chapter 5 exploring the
question on the manner in which believers may pray these prayers (Mays,
1994). Mays comes up with a way of prayer that is not only
autobiographical, but also Christological, corporate, individual, as
well as typical rather subjective. He sees the Psalms prayers both as
prayers and scriptures. The issues formulated in this case are extremely
precise, in which case it is imperative that they are read with care. On
the same note, praise is also treated as a scripture, with Mays stating
that the psalms instruct or guide the offering of praise by people to
the divine king.
In part 4, Mays sees David as a Messiah and a Psalmist. Mays
particularly explores David’s portrait as incorporated in the Psalms,
Chronicles and Samuel, with Chapter 10 articulating the messianic
vision of the Psalter with special attention to varied Royal Psalms.
In Part 5, May examines the shape of Psalms as a book. He sees the
Psalter as an instructor or guide to the reading of psalms while paying
special attention to the place that David occupies in the Psalter. On
the same note, the penultimate chapter examines the place that torah
psalms occupy in Psalter, while the last chapter presents a canonical
analysis pertaining to psalms 118.
This book comes across as extremely well written and comprehensive in
its explanation of the psalms. Indeed, it incorporates some extremely
creation portions especially in part 4 & 5, pertaining to the shaping of
the Psalter. The attention of the writer pertaining to the importance of
figure David in the Psalter, as well as the manner in which he treats
the Psalter as an instructor to the reading and comprehension of the
psalms is extremely eye-opening and makes a real contribution.
However, the reader, in the final analysis, may not be convinced about
the writer’s proposal for the central theme or the organizing center
pertaining to the theology of the psalms, which is “the Lord
Reigns”. The writer is aware of this difficulty especially as he
acknowledges on P. 7 that the statement or phrase “Yhwh malak” crops
up in considerably few psalms. Mays has undoubtedly put up a spirited
argument pertaining to seeing the reign of God as the predisposing
factor in the different dimensions pertaining to the psalmic speech.
However, it goes is worth noting that the theory of the Psalter goes on
pushing beyond a single center (Mays, 1994). This may be seen, for
example, in the manner in which prayer literature is treated in part 2.
The writer presents the insistent pleadings as functioning from
confidence of the lowly in the reign of God. The lamenter’s
declaration of innocence, expression of immense pain in texts like
Psalms 88, as well as words imprecation comes as a challenge to God’s
Kingship. Prophetic theology and creation theology incorporated in the
psalms come as alternative dimensions that should be given further
attention. Mays has immensely come up with and articulated a single pole
of theology pertaining to the psalms. It is, of course, not doubtful
that the Psalms come as the liturgy pertaining to the Kingdom of God
(Mays, 1994). On the same note, it is understandable that the
articulation is a reflection of the theological perspective of the
writer as shaped by his own experiences and the knowledge that he has
obtained in his journey as an academician. However, it seems doubtful
that the Psalter could only include a single theological perspective as
the writer tends to insinuate. Indeed, varied perspectives would be
incorporated as far as the reading and the interpretation of the psalms
is concerned. This, however, does not undermine the immense contribution
that the book makes as far as the interpretation and comprehension of
the psalms are concerned. On the same note, the proposal that May’s
makes are bold especially in the theology pertaining to the Psalter.
Mays, J. L. (1994). The Lord reigns: A theological handbook to the
Psalms. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press.