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A Favourite Author – Dale Ralph Davis by John Watkins

A Favourite Author – Dale Ralph Davis by John Watkins

John Watkins explains why an American pastor, preacher and theologian is one of his favourite writers.

Old Testament narrative can be hard to get to grips with, particularly the history books. Getting beyond David and Solomon and the obscurities of the later kings of Israel and Judah can seem overwhelming. In addition, we find it hard to know what spiritual lessons we can draw from a lot of the characters and events. I came upon author Dale Ralph Davis when looking for  commentaries to bring light into some of these dark corners of Scripture.

Davis has credentials on a number of fronts: now retired, he was Minister in Residence, First Presbyterian Church, South Carolina; previously he had been pastor of Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Hattiesberg, Mississippi and Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. 

I first started on his work by reading my way through the series of Focus on the Bible commentaries published by Christian Focus Publications. He starts with Joshua and in six volumes works his way to the end of 2 Kings. A commentary can sound like a dull, dry technical work. These are far from that. A customer bought I Samuel from the CLC shop I was working in and came back a week later for 2 Samuel saying “It reads like a novel”. He tackles each chapter with grace and a dry sense of humour while avoiding technicalities. He explains the structure of the passage to bring out the meaning. He obviously had a keen interest in and a wide knowledge of American history particularly the civil war and American presidents. He frequently uses stories and anecdotes to bring out the meaning of the text. His sense of humour? The chapter heading for 1 Samuel 17, David and Goliath, is “Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth – Thud!” And talking of David’s reliance on God rather than weaponry says “...there was ‘no sword in David’s hand’ v.50. That’s why he had to borrow Goliath’s – without permission – to finish off the giant v.51”.

Above all though these commentaries are rich in spiritual application. He doesn’t just use the accounts as a series of object lessons on living the Christian life but shows us how the narrative fits in with God’s plan and purposes for Israel and through them the church today. No chapter goes by without a challenge to our thinking and presumptions.

I would wholeheartedly recommend these Focus on the Bible commentaries to anyone who wants to get to grips with these Old Testament books. The chapters are short enough to be used on a daily basis. Before you know it you will have worked through a large section of the Bible.

However if they sound overwhelming – which they’re not – there are some shorter volumes I would recommend. These include two books of mediations on the Psalms: The Way of Righteousness in the Muck of Life deals with Psalms 1 to 12, and Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness covers Psalms 13 to 24. The publisher tells me there is a third imminent. I shall rush out and buy it! Again, these can be dipped into or worked through on a daily basis, stimulating our thinking and praying as we see David interacting with his God and ours.

Two other short stand-alone volumes are Faith of Our Fathers – Exposition of Genesis 12-25 and Stump Kingdom – Isaiah 6-12.

All the titles I’ve mentioned so far are published by Christian Focus Publications, but Davis has also written for other publishers. IVP publish his book on Daniel in the Bible Speaks Today series and Evangelical Press his book on Micah in the EP Study Commentary series. These too are written in the style I have talked of – readable, informative and heart-warming. 

Apart from the biographical details mentioned above I know nothing about the author apart from what can be gleaned through his writings. Perhaps that is for the good as it keeps God and his ways and purposes centre stage. It’s the content which makes him a favourite author of mine. All booksellers should have authors they appreciate and recommend. One of the best ways of selling books is by word of mouth. The books of Dale Ralph Davis can be easily overlooked so draw the attention of the customers, particularly those who preach and teach, to the content.

Yes he is an Old Testament specialist but William Mackenzie of Christian Focus Publications tells me this talented author is currently working on a book on the Gospel of Luke. The publication date is yet to be finalised but I await it with eager anticipation.


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Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Slogging Along In The Paths Of Righteousness (Paperback)
Dale Ralph Davis
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Stump Kingdom (Paperback)
Dale Ralph Davis
Retail price: £8.99
Your price: £8.99