Foundations for Expository Sermons in the Christian Year
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016
Pbk, xx + 595pp, £28.99
Sidney Greidanus is the Emeritus professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids. He has long been concerned with preaching Christ from the Old Testament. His concern dates back over 30 years. After preaching a sermon from Ecclesiastes a member of the congregation came up to him and asked a provocative question: ‘I like your sermon … But could a rabbi have preached that in a synagogue?’ Was Greidanus’ sermon a Christian sermon? This question stirred him into action and the theme of preaching Christ from the Old Testament was developed in his 1989 book The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text as well as in his Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (1999). Since then he has produced books on preaching Christ from Daniel, Genesis and Ecclesiastes. And now we have the latest - and what sadly seems to be the last - on Preaching Christ through Psalms.
This book is a brilliant fusion of hermeneutics and homiletics. The opening chapter takes an overview of the issues of preaching from the Psalms - including examining some objections others have from preaching the Psalms. As always with Greidanus there is much wisdom and excellent advice. The rest of the chapters examine different Psalms in detail (ones covered include Pss 122, 72, 146, 80, 96, 29, 2, 51, 32, 121,95, 23, 130, 118, 22, 118, 47, 104, 8, 100). Greidanus has followed the Revised Common Lectionary in selecting these Psalms from year A and has linked them to the Christian feasts.
He looks at ways of seeing Jesus in the text; these include redemptive-historical progress, promise-fulfilment, typology, analogy, longitudinal themes, New Testament references and contrast. These approaches have been explained and justified more fully in his Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Obviously, not all these are applicable all the times to great variety of Psalms
The remaining chapters, each of which looks at a different Psalm, all follow a similar structure:
- Text and context
- Literary interpretation - including parallelisms, imagery, repetitions and structure
- Theocentric interpretation
- Textual theme and goal
- Ways to preach Christ
- Sermon theme, goal and need
- Liturgy, scripture reading, sermon outline and PowerPoint
- Sermon exposition
As can be seen from the structure of each chapter, his approach is one that grapples with the text, its structure and purpose before seeing how a Christological approach arises from it. There is also lots of practical advice, including suggestions for PowerPoint slides. In the sermon exposition, we are shown the fruit of this digging down would look like in a well-crafted sermon (at the end there are even examples of a prayer and song to use). Also included in the Appendices are examples of sermons on Psalms 72 and 80 by a former student of Greidanus, Ryan Faber.
The Bible is often compared to a stick of seaside rock with Jesus’ name written all the way through it. Here, Greidanus breaks open the Psalms and shows us Jesus written all the way through it. This book will be an invaluable resource for any preacher who plans to preach from any of the Psalms and do so in a way that brings glory to Jesus. Greidanus’ Preaching Christ through … books are all a wonderful gift to preachers and to the institutional church.