Over the years I’ve spent so many hours with Christians, in pastoral situations, in general conversations and in conversations about what they’re reading (both in terms of Bible books and other reading materials). One of the books that isn’t read much is Deuteronomy, if Leviticus is the place Bible reading plans go to die, those that power on, might fall flat at Deuteronomy. The other book that isn’t read much, or is misused a fair bit, is Nehemiah. Here are three helpful resources that can help you understand and use both Deuteronomy and Nehemiah properly as you desire to grow in your faith and understanding of the Bible.
Deuteronomy, A Mentor Expository Commentary by Douglas Kelly
Let me kick off by saying that if you’re a pastor or Bible teacher, you might not think of this book like a commentary. Most commentaries take you through a verse by verse exposition, unpacking academic arguments and evidence for certain things and dive into the original language of a particular text. This book doesn’t really do that, so I wouldn’t call it a commentary really. The chapters are very short and based off of Kelly’s sermons given in two different churches. I’m not sure what category I’d put it in, but commentary probably isn’t one of them.
Having said that though, I do think that this is a helpful book. Kelly unpacks what can be a very confusing book, and genre, for people. Instead of simply looking at what the passage meant to the original audience, which is massively important, he also helps Christians today see the importance message of Deuteronomy for the Church.
Kelly draws on his experience as a theology professor, a preacher and a man with a heart for God’s people. He helps you understand how to apply Deuteronomy today and how it tackles some serious issues that the church should be fighting against (legalism and antinomianism, etc.).
Kelly is a Presbyterian so there might naturally be things that you don’t agree with him on, I know that I didn’t agree with all of this book. However, the points that Kelly draws out, sometimes from smaller chunks and other times from larger chunks of Deuteronomy, are helpful and will make you think. Whilst the book doesn’t major on application it can certainly be a tool to aid a preacher and get him thinking about how to apply a particular part of the text.
If you’re looking for an easy to read overview of Deuteronomy (that’s long enough to give you something to chew on), a book that will give you an overview of Deuteronomy and a book that will encourage you and help you see Jesus in the text, this certainly will do all three of those things. Check it out for yourself and let me know how you find it.
Nehemiah For You by Eric Mason
Nehemiah is a wonderful book of the Bible that can teach us so much about God, His plan for the world and His plan for His people. Nehemiah is much more than just a historical account of the walls of Jerusalem being built. Sadly some of these Old Testament historical narratives get skipped over (for example, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah), but they have so much to teach us. But at the same time, sometimes Nehemiah is misused and only ever on the preaching schedule during a building project or renovation. Nehemiah is about much more than bricks and mortar.
Mason takes you through the book of Nehemiah in chunks that help you get enough depth, without overwhelming you. He draws out helpful insights and applications of how we can understand and use the book of Nehemiah today in our own lives and in the church. At the end of each chapter there are also reflection questions for the reader to consider.
This book could be used as a devotional commentary by any Christian and as a non-academic commentary for a preacher who wants to think more about the application of the book of Nehemiah. I enjoyed reading it, as I do with most ‘… For You’ books that The Good Book Company produce. you can also buy a guide to Nehemiah in addition which is more designed for study, with insights and comments but mostly dedicated to questions. These questions are designed to help the reader understand, be challenged by and apply God’s Word. I’ve used them in small group settings before and they’ve been very helpful. Get your copy of the devotional commentary here and your copy of the guide here.
*** I received these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. This does not change the way I rate the books. My views are my own. ***