Judges – Dale Ralph Davis
Such A Great Salvation
by Mary Frances McCullough
I’m not a great reader, I’m one of those people who starts something, puts it down, starts a second book, puts it down & goes back again to the first. I usually have a couple (well maybe 3) of books on the go at once and it takes me ages to finish them. When I go to our book shelves I go to the ‘safe’ sections of biographies, devotionals, small study guides, and the how to pray, read or study books – I choose familiar authors Begg, Piper, Packer, Lewis & Stott. Dale Ralph Davis was a writer who’s books I’d seen on our shelves, or on my husband’s bedside cabinet, he wasn’t someone that I’d really heard about before. He is now in my ‘loved’ section and definitely one I will go back to time and time again. A former pastor and professor, author of numerous books and commentaries, husband, father and grandfather.
I don’t know about you but Bible commentaries are something I thought were only for Pastors, theology students or nerds like Jack (my husband). They weren’t really a genre of Christian literature that I would have considered. I would have only used them to scavenge around for the original meaning of a word, to find out who someone’s mum or dad was, or to look into the background of some enemy of Israel. I thought commentaries were big, fat, hard backed boring books with big words (that I needed to look up the meanings off) definitely books I would walk past on our book shelves. How wrong was I? I had simply not found the right commentary or author yet.
I have to admit that I was not particularly thrilled when my Bible study group chose Judges as their next book to work through. Judges was one of those books I’d avoided or skimmed past for many years. I quickly learnt that it’s one of those books that the Church itself doesn’t overly concentrate on a lot either. With its gruesome violence, Israel’s continuous cycle of disobedience, distress and deliverance and of course the heart breaking recurring line “in those days there was no King in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. It wouldn’t be up there in the list of top ten or twenty most preached about books.
Dale Ralph Davis however, opened up Judges to me in a way that I will be eternally indebted to him for. With his humour and down to earth language he not only explains confusing verses, but leaves vivid stories and sections in my mind that will never be forgotten. His quirky chapter themes make it easy to remember great lessons from the Lord on His judgement, His long suffering and undoubtedly His love & grace. A history of Israel during a time of rebellion and restitution, explained simply and succinctly, in a quick 227 pages. Ehud the lefty (hand not politics) who stabbed Eglon while he was on the loo, Gideon’s constant need for reassurance, we all know the fleece story but what about the separating of the army by watching them lap up water like dogs? Samson’s strength and his love for the ladies! The gruesomeness of war, destruction, disobedience and consequences, all these characters and stories brought to life in a way that not only honours the Lord but entertained me leaving me wanting more and for the first time ever not being able to put the book down. At times I had lumps in my throat at the heart break and devastation, then tears in my eyes as I laughed out loud at the retelling of different events. I would most definitely recommend this commentary on the book of Judges, it is expository teaching at it’s very best. This commentary gripped me, excited me, it challenged me, but most of all it blessed and encouraged me in the Lord and His unceasing rescue plan for us, His beloved, wayward children.
We all want to leave our children with a rich heritage in the Lord, a deep love for the Lord and His people, and a desire to follow in His ways. An old pastor friend used to talk about gathering up great Christian books in the home, a family library of books that everyone can come to time and time again, books that cut across generations and abilities. Most of Dale Ralph Davis’s books are on our shelves (his 1 Samuel commentary is currently at my bedside) and I would whole heartedly recommend a book or two of his on the shelves of your family library too.
P.S. you can also download some of his sermons, and the good news is he preaches how he writes with humility, insight and humour.